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Cox Classic players to watch

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Cox Classic players to watch

Ben Martin is second on the Tour money list this season. He's won twice with three other top-six finishes in his previous six starts.

Jeff Shain, a correspondent, sizes up the field for each week's Tour event and provides a top-five power ranking for that tournament.

The Tour's regular season comes down to its final week at the Cox Classic, where anyone looking to move up the rankings needs some deep-red numbers.

Champions Run has ranked as the easiest course in each of the past two Tour seasons, and hasn't been outside the top six since 2005. Last year, the par-71 layout produced a scoring average of 68.76 — nearly a half-shot easier than any other venue.

Ben Kohles matched the Classic's scoring record with last year's winning total of 24-under 260. It marked the seventh time in the past eight editions that the winner has reached at least 20 under.

1. Ben Martin

Before taking a two-week break, Martin merely had won twice with three other top-six finishes in his previous six starts. And he tied for 14th in the other one. We'll see if he's gathered any rust, but he's mentally fresh for a run at No. 1.

2. Jamie Lovemark

Also back from two weeks off, Lovemark finally is showing the form that made him the tour's top player in 2010. The California native has fared especially well in go-low events, winning in Kansas City with top-10s in Utah and Boise.

3. Russell Knox

Hopping between the PGA Tour and circuit, Knox has broken 70 in 18 of his past 22 rounds with top-20 finishes in five of the six events. That includes recording just the fifth 59 in competition.

4. Peter Malnati

The Tour's newest winner faces a tall order to go back-to-back. Then again, it was a pretty tall order for Malnati to go from zero status at midseason to a string of five top-25 finishes in just six starts.

5. Matt Bettencourt

Last week's share of runner-up honors continued a strong closing kick for the South Carolina pro, who has broken 70 in each of his past nine Tour rounds. The tour's top putter also ranks No. 3 in birdie conversion.

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