Shotgun Start: Previewing the McGladrey Classic

It's tournament time! Only two events remain on the PGA Tour's 2012 schedule, as players on the top 125 bubble head to Sea Island, Ga., for the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island Golf Club. Here's a tournament primer to get you prepared for the week.

The course: The Seaside Course at Sea Island, site of this week's McGladrey Classic, has only hosted a PGA Tour event for the past two years, but in that short time frame, the course has garnered rave reviews from a number of players on tour -- including Stuart Appleby, who took this video of the pristine course conditions ... on the tee box.

The Colt & Allison designed layout is not only one of the toughest par-70 layouts on tour -- it ranked fourth out of 14 last season -- but one of the most picturesque. With Saint Simons Sound and the Atlantic Ocean as the backdrop for this week's event, some players may find it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand.

But with full-time status on the line, we're pretty sure they'll find a way to buckle down and go after it on Thursday. Just 7,005 yards, the Seaside Course puts a huge premium on driving accuracy and shot placement. It shouldn't come as any surprise that the two par 5s played as the easiest holes on the course last season. The seventh and 15th, which measure 582 and 565 yards respectively, are the green light holes where birdies and eagles need to be made.

Ranked as the 31st easiest course, out of 52, on tour last year, you'd probably assume Sea Island would yield a bunch of birdies. That actually couldn't be further from the truth. Aside from the fact that it had the fourth-lowest scoring average among 14 par-70 courses last year, it also came in second in putting average (1.707) on tour.

What exactly does that mean for the players in the field? If you're carrying a balky putter this week, you might as well book an early flight home.

Hole to watch: It has to be the the fourth, a 429-yard dogleg left par-4 that requires you to hit a perfect tee shot to attack the green. With marsh surrounding the hole and Saint Simons Sound in the background, it's one of the few holes on the course that's both terrifying and beautiful at the same time. It's the No. 1 handicap hole on the card and ranked as the toughest hole at last year's McGladrey Classic with a stroke average of 4.202.

The schedule: The tournament runs Thursday-Sunday. All four rounds will be broadcast on the Golf Channel from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

The field: The McGladrey Classic boasts another solid but not spectacular field that includes 2012 PGA Tour winners Mark Wilson, Ben Curtis, Zach Johnson, Ted Potter Jr., Scott Stallings and Jonas Blixt. Ryder Cupper Jim Furyk, Gary Woodland, Stewart Cink, Vijay Singh, Davis Love III, David Toms and John Daly are some of the other notables.

The video: Check out some of the memorable moments from the McGladrey Classic's history.

Your turn. Who are your picks for this week? Swing away!

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