Josh Culp

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Web Rankings: Grading The 25

Friday, September 29, 2017



#11 Andrew Yun
Strokes Gained Rank: 15th
Age: 26


Yun is a Washington native, a Stanford alum, and now calls Arizona home. That sounds like a recipe for success early in the season while the TOUR hovers over the West Coast. Of course, that is all just a guessing game for now, since he enters the 2017-18 season with ZERO PGA TOUR experience.


#12 Chesson Hadley

Strokes Gained Rank: 8th
Age: 30


Unlike Yun, Hadley boasts plenty of TOUR experience. That includes a win at the 2014 Puerto Rico Open. The finger-snappin' Georgia Tech product may have gotten too comfortable on the PGA TOUR, and let his game slip. However, he proved that his talent is still there, winning twice on the Web.com Tour this season. Combining his results from both circuits, he now has five wins in 140 starts (3.5% win rate). Hadley's upside is still through the roof, but he's never been a consistent cut-maker.


#13 Ted Potter, Jr.

Strokes Gained Rank: 3rd
Age: 33


A winner at the 2012 Greenbrier Classic, Potter Jr. broke his ankle in July of 2014 when he slipped on a curb at his hotel. The lefty failed to keep his card when he returned on a medical extension in 2016. His form looks just fine on the Web.com Tour, though, going 27-for-35 with 21 top 25s over the past two years. He's lower down this list because at this stage of his career we know what he is. TPJ has missed the cut in 41 (of 75) career starts on the PGA TOUR, making him a boom-or-bust option with winning upside in weaker-field events.


#14 Ben Silverman

Strokes Gained Rank: 12th
Age: 29


Gamers can consider Silverman's season a great success for Team Nappy Factor. The Canadian had his son (Jack Palmer, what a name) on July 18th. His next four events went as follows: WIN-T7-T2-T24. His lone appearance on the PGA TOUR is a missed cut at the 2014 Canadian Open.


#15 Conrad Shindler

Strokes Gained Rank: 16th
Age: 29


The Texas resident was steady all season, posting nine top 25s in 23 starts, one of those coming in the Web.com Tour Finals. His eight regular season top 25s were good enough to help him finish 17th on the money list. Shindler's results line up well with his strokes gained results, as he ranks 16th in the strokes gained department. At the age of 29, he's a bit of a late bloomer, with just two starts in his career at the PGA TOUR level (1-for-2).


#16 Nate Lashley

Strokes Gained Rank: 6th
Age: 34


From a strokes-gained view, Lashley's season is remarkable. However, the 34-year-old has just one PGA TOUR start on his resume. His run all started with a breakout 2016 on the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica circuit where he won three times. The Arizona Wildcat picked up another win this year on the Web.com Tour, proving he's not afraid of the winner's circle, by any means. I'm a little hesitant, given his age, but I am intrigued to potentially see him at the Waste Management Phoenix Open as he lists TPC Scottsdale as his home course.


#17 Stephan Jaeger

Strokes Gained Rank: 19th
Age: 28


Known for his remarkable round of '58' at the 2016 Ellie Mae Classic. He also had to deal with large galleries at that same event this year, when he got paired with Steph Curry. More impressively he won twice this season to finish 5th on the money list. However, he posted just one other top 15 all season. To me, that sounds a bit like Chesson Hadley. When his game is clicking, there is no stopping him, but he will likely be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis.


#18 Matt Atkins

Strokes Gained Rank: 24th
Age: 26


South Carolina-Aiken product who calls Palmetto GC home. I would guess that means he is good friends with TOUR pros like Scott Brown and Kevin Kisner. The youngster finished 32nd on the money list in 2016 but improved 13 spots this season to earn his TOUR card. Was just 3-for-17 during his Web.com Tour rookie season but he's 26-for-48 since then. One of the younger grads, Atkins has some upside in long-term formats but he's a bit of a long shot to make a big impact in 2018.


#19 Lanto Griffin

Strokes Gained Rank: 20th
Age: 29


He got the seal of approval from fan favorite, Willy Wilcox who said Griffin (and Aaron Wise) would be cash machines on the PGA TOUR next season. Griffin is 0-for-2 in his career on the PGA TOUR but he hasn't pegged it since 2011 on the big stage. The 29-year-old ranks 24th in driving distance and 14th in birdie average, making him a potential sleeper in DFS formats where birdies and eagles are worth a lot.


#20 Brice Garnett

Strokes Gained Rank: 10th
Age: 34


This is where helps us. Garnett finished the season ranked 1st on the money list but he sits at just 10th in the strokes gained department. This tells us his bad weeks are probably pretty bad. Still, he won two times this year, so there is the upside. However, we also sort of already know who Garnett is. He's played two full seasons on the PGA TOUR and never finished inside the top 120 in the FedExCup standings. Then he went 7-for-15 the following year while playing on conditional status. With just four top 10s in 75 career starts on the big stage, he doesn't leap off the page to me.


#21 Ethan Tracy

Strokes Gained Rank: 25th
Age: 27


Another University of Arkansas product (Austin Cook) to make it through the gauntlet. Tracy was not the most consistent golfer this season, entering the Web.com Tour finale with a 9-for-24 record. However, an early win at the Colombia Championship earned him $126K. That was 78% of his end of season earnings, but he still slid through in 24th position on the money list.


#22 Brandon Harkins

Strokes Gained Rank: 18th
Age: 31


Much like Lanto Griffin, Harkins could be an appealing DFS option in weaker fields this upcoming season. He ranks 11th on the Web.com Tour in driving distance and T8th in birdie average. Like I mentioned before, that driving distance will likely translate from 316.6 yards down to the 305 range next year, but that is still plenty long. The only downside is his age. I'm always wary of golfers in their 30s who are just now getting a shot at the big stage. He might be a late bloomer, but the more likely scenario is that he picks up one or two top 25s this year before finishing outside the top 125 in the FedExCup race.


#23 Xinjun Zhang

Strokes Gained Rank: 21st
Age: 30


Joins Marty Dou as the first Chinese-born golfers to earn a PGA TOUR card. While Dou brings a lot of promise as a youngster, Zhang brings some controversy. He was the leading money winner on the PGA TOUR China Series, back in 2014 before he got suspended six months due to signing incorrect scorecards. By season's end he finished 2nd on the money list, behind Hao Tong Li. After his return from suspension, he won again on the China Series (Chongqing Open in October of 2015) so he clearly has the game, regardless of his scorecard signing habits. Zhang has since moved to the Jacksonville area and plays out of TPC Sawgrass. Has two career wins and eight runner-ups worldwide, but the PGA TOUR is a big step up in competition. I will take the wait-and-see approach before investing here.


#24 Roberto Diaz

Strokes Gained Rank: 23rd
Age: 30


Likely remember him from this year's WGC-Mexico Championship where Diaz was the only golfer in the field with any experience at the course. He went on to finish T67 (of 77) that week, against some of the best golfers in the world. The South Carolina Aiken product opened his Web career with 20 missed cuts in his first 36 starts but has since gone 28-for-44. Diaz is showing signs of improvement, but he's still near the back of this class in terms of strokes gained and also in the age department (30).


#25 Kyle Thompson

Strokes Gained Rank: 9th
Age: 38


The oldest of this year's talent pool. Thompson is graduating from the Web.com Tour for the third time in his career (2008, 2011). The South Carolina product has made a living at the Rex Hospital Open, proving that course history is a real thing (with three of his five wins coming at TPC Wakefield). Surprisingly, he finishes outside the top 50 at that event in 2017, but had already hoisted a trophy at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic (first start of the season). With a golfer like Thompson, we already have a 55-start sample size on the PGA TOUR (13-for-55 with just two top 25s). It would be a bit surprising to see him finally break out on the big stage, as he approaches 40.



The final event of the Web.com Tour Finals is going on as I type this, with Sam Saunders torching the course on day one. I will provide an update to the strokes gained rankings after this event, and also add another column ranking The Finals 25. Stay tuned as that will be published before the Safeway Open kicks off next Thursday.

 

 



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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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