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Five To Watch – 2013 McGladrey Classic

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2013 McGladrey Classic Power Rankings

Photo Courtesy McGladrey Classic Official Facebook Page

The PGA Tour returns to the United States this Veterans Day weekend, as the McGladrey Classic is set to tee off at the Seaside Course at Saint Simons Island, Ga.

As opposed to the jet lag that several players may have endured from an early-season schedule that included stops in California and Las Vegas before heading to Malaysia and China, the McGladrey Classic is somewhat of a homecoming for several of golf’s biggest stars. Tournament host Davis Love III, for instance, lives just ten minutes away from the course, and traditionally entertains many of the players and their families at his home. Others who will have the “home course advantage” this week include Lucas Glover, Zach Johnson, and Georgia Tech grad Matt Kuchar.

Of course, once the tournament begins, the only thing that matters is what players are capable of doing between the ropes. In the three years since its inception, the McGladrey Classic has posted lower winning scores each year, with Tommy Gainey setting the low mark in 2012 at -16. Much like the other events formerly to be a part of the “Fall Series”, the McGladrey now holds full PGA Tour benefits, meaning the 500 FedEx Cup points and Masters invitation are on the line again. Putting will be a key factor this week as greens are expected to be extremely fast.

All in all, the McGladrey is quickly gaining favor with top Tour pros, not only for its location and status, but also for its outreach. According to the official tournament website, the event has raised nearly $1 million in just three years, and has several promotions for both active duty military and veterans. You want to see the good guys do well, and clearly Love and his team are giving back in a big way.

With only two tournaments left before the holiday break, let’s take a look at the players who could make a big statement this week.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer for "Like" him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, and add him to your Google+ network.

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5) Charles Howell III

Christopher Hanewinckel - USA TODAY Sports

Howell comes to Georgia riding back-to-back top ten finishes in Las Vegas and Malaysia, with seven of eight rounds in the 60s. Finished T-7 last year at the McGladrey, and ranks 4th in ball striking so far this season.

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4) Harris English

Debby Wong - USA TODAY Sports

Harris English tied with Howell in Malaysia at the CIMB Classic. Like so many others, English lives at Sea Island, so he should be familiar with the track. The winner of the 2013 FedEx St. Jude Classic, English ranked 36th in total putting in 2013.

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3) Zach Johnson

Kevin Liles - USA TODAY Sports

Currently ranked 13th in the world, Johnson feels right at home this week because, well, he is at home. A pair of 70s at the Shriners Open didn’t get the season started the way he would have liked, but he ended last year with seven top tens in eight events. It hasn’t been that long, and Johnson should contend this weekend.

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2) Webb Simpson

Kevin Liles - USA TODAY Sports

One tournament, one win for Simpson in 2013-14. He’ll attempt to keep his undefeated streak going at Seaside, where he lost in a playoff in 2011. Two wins before the new year would be ridiculous, and a huge step towards the FedEx Cup playoffs already.

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1) Matt Kuchar

Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY Sports

Mr. Consistent is back. Kuchar took the entire month of October off after the President's Cup, forgoing the WGC-HSBC Champions in favor of rest and recuperation from a busy 2013 season. Ranked eighth in the world, he’s had moderate success here in the past, but I expect him to find his groove early at home.