Josh Culp

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Web Rankings: Grading The 25

Friday, September 29, 2017

Each year a new crop of talent leaps from the Tour to the PGA TOUR.

The first set of 25 graduates comes from the regular season money list, while the second set will earn their cards after this week's Tour Championship.

In this article, I will look at The 25 who ended the regular season inside the top 25 to secure PGA TOUR playing privileges for the 2017-18 PGA TOUR season.

With the PGA TOUR resuming next week in Napa, we should expect to see at least 35 (of 50) graduates peg it at the Safeway Open. Some of the names are familiar, but others will be making their PGA TOUR debuts.

To prep for the Safeway Open (and the remainder of the fall schedule), I've determined a quick-and-easy ranking system to grade these graduates.

When looking at Tour standard stats, I noticed some major discrepancies when comparing to the PGA TOUR equivalent. For example, if you look at raw numbers on the Tour, you'd assume that everyone on the Tour is the next Dustin Johnson in terms of distance off the tee. The Tour average driving distance sits at 303.4 yards for the 2017 season. That is more than 10 yards farther than the PGA TOUR average.

However, if you compare distance versus each field they play against, then you quickly find the numbers are inflated based on course setup on the Tour and/or the type of holes chosen for the driving distance measurement. If you are trying to grade out distance then the easiest way to accomplish that is to take a golfer's Tour Driving Distance and subtract 10 yards. Most golfers should expect their distance to "drop" 10-to-15 yards as they make the leap.

That is just one example of how traditional stats can be misleading. Instead, we can skip that whole process and just look at strokes gained against the field. This is a simple metric that determines how much better a golfer is compared to the field they face, on a round-to-round basis. It is also easy to adjust for the strength of the field, so that is a big bonus.

Using this simple stat last year, we would have found the top 8 in terms of 2016 adjusted strokes gained on the Tour were Martin Flores, C.T. Pan, Ryan Blaum, J.J. Spaun, Wesley Bryan, Grayson Murray, J.T. Poston, and Xander Schauffele

Seven of them played well enough to retain their TOUR card while the other (Poston) went 20-for-28 in cuts made. That includes four wins: Wesley Bryan, Grayson Murray, and Xander Schauffele (x2). If you played DFS last year on FanDuel or DraftKings, you likely saw these names pop up a lot.

I'm not going to guarantee a repeat of that success rate, but I will be using it as a prime factor for grading this crop of talent. The other factor is AGE. It's really that simple.

I'm going to combine Strokes Gained in 2017 (, PGA TOUR, and European Tour) with Age to rank The 25.

#1 Abraham Ancer

Strokes Gained Rank: 2nd
Age: 26

The University of Oklahoma product ranks second in strokes gained despite not finding the winner's circle. His season includes a trio of runner-up finishes and four other top 10s. The dual citizen of U.S. and Mexico also graduated from the Tour in 2015 but didn't find much success on the big stage. He was 6-for-19 with one top 25, but he appears to have used that experience to his advantage and will try to keep it rolling in the fall.  I think we could see him make some noise, early in the season.

#2 Aaron Wise

Strokes Gained Rank: 14th
Age: 21

The second-youngest of The 25 to punch his ticket. Playing on sponsor's invites, he went 4-for-6 on the PGA TOUR this year but couldn't burst into contention. However, he did plenty of damage on the lower circuit to secure his card. That included a win and five other top 25s in 16 starts. Given his pedigree as an amateur, we should expect Wise to receive a lot of hype this fall, and rightfully so.

#3 Austin Cook

Strokes Gained Rank: 4th
Age: 26

Posted five top 25s in seven PGA TOUR starts in 2015. That was definitely impressive but wasn't quite enough to secure Special Temporary Membership. Narrowly missed out on graduating from the Web last year, but made it easy this year (15th on the regular season money list). The Arkansas product brings a great mix of youth, performance, and PGA TOUR experience. Definitely, one to watch early and often when the 2017-18 PGA TOUR season kicks off.

#4 Beau Hossler

Strokes Gained Rank: 17th
Age: 22

Started with no status and tried his hand at the PGA TOUR with sponsor's invites. Couldn't piece it all together as he likely returned earlier than he wanted from injury. Playing just his second event on the Tour, a runner-up at the Air Capital Classic in June kicked off a run of five straight top 30s (two runner-ups) that helped lock up his status. May start the season under-the-radar due to mediocre PGA TOUR results last year, but he's proven that his injury troubles are now behind him. The best is still to come for the young phenom.

#5 Adam Schenk

Strokes Gained Rank: 11th
Age: 25

A less-than-ideal name for a man of his profession but the last name certainly doesn't describe the type of shots he hits. Finished 56th in the priority rank last year (regular season plus Tour Finals) to narrowly miss out on a PGA TOUR card. He kept his head down and easily secured that playing status in 2017, finishing 12th on the regular season money list. The Purdue product has posted eight top 10s in 48 career Tour starts. A tremendous ratio for a golfer who won't turn 26 until next January.

#6 Sam Ryder

Strokes Gained Rank: 7th
Age: 27

Unlike the man above, Ryder has a great given name for golf, sharing his name with the man who started the Ryder Cup. The Stetson alum belted out nine top 25s during the regular season to finish second on the money list. That included a win, a runner-up, and a third-place finish, completing the podium trio of finishes. He won in 2015 on the Mackenzie Tour (his second season on that circuit). His 2017 win on the Tour was also his second season on the WCT. Perhaps, we'll see him pick up a win on the PGA TOUR in 2019 then.

#7 Andrew Putnam

Strokes Gained Rank: 5th
Age: 28

His second time earning a PGA TOUR card (2014). Posted a 10-for-23 record in his first attempt on the big stage. Hasn't earned any PGA TOUR starts since that 2014-15 season. This year on the minor-league circuit he went 17-for-20 with four top 10s, including a win at the Panama Claro Championship. Given his win came in Panama, that might make him an appealing option at the OHL Classic, Puerto Rico Open, and/or the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.

#8 Andrew Landry

Strokes Gained Rank: 1st
Age: 30

You may remember him from the 2016 U.S. Open where he flew out of the gate and eventually finished T15. That was during his PGA TOUR rookie season where he still finished just 178th in the FedExCup standings, despite that strong finish in a major. He's feasted in 2017 (ranks first in the strokes gained department) but I'm hesitant to fully get on board since he's reached his 30s but still has less than 20 starts on the big stage.

#9 Marty Dou

Strokes Gained Rank: 22nd
Age: 20

On the flip side of that equation, we have a youngster here with less-than-excellent results in the strokes-gained department but he's still just 20-years old. In addition to his victory at the 2017 Digital Ally Open, he also has four career wins on the PGA TOUR China circuit. Five wins at his age is mighty impressive. I'm expecting some roller-coaster results on the PGA TOUR, but he's proven to have winning upside. He becomes very valuable in fantasy leagues if you start getting into long-term formats like dynasty leagues. Also, if you are looking through old results, you may see his given name (Zecheng) on the leaderboard. How does that translate to Marty? No idea, but it is a little easier to say.

#10 Talor Gooch

Strokes Gained Rank: 13th
Age: 25

The Oklahoma State product is 14-for-22 this year on the Tour. That includes four top 15s in his last five events with a runner-up and a win during that stretch. He also rattled off three straight top 15s early in the season, proving to be a streaky golfer. If he opens the 2017-18 PGA TOUR season with a strong finish, gamers should jump on the train and ride out his likely hot streak.

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Josh Culp joined Rotoworld in 2014. The DFS enthusiast from Iowa State can be found on Twitter @futureoffantasy.
Email :Josh Culp

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