The PGA TOUR heads south from Mamaroneck, NY, to the Dominican Republic for the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. The course will play as a par 72, measuring 7,666 yards with paspalum greens.
The course, coverage and field will be slightly different from the U.S. Open but will feature a ton of young talent ready to make their mark on the PGA TOUR. Will Zalatoris ($10,900), Sam Burns ($10,100), Henrik Norlander ($8,600), Xinjun Zhang ($8,400) and Will Gordon ($7,600) will join past winners Brice Garnett ($7,900) and Graeme McDowell ($7,800) on what should be a more straightforward test of golf compared to Winged Foot. 2021 will be the first year the tournament will offer full FedExCup points to the winner, which might be the reason we’re getting Henrik Stenson ($9,500) in the field for the first time in his career.
Corales Golf Club was a course played on the Korn Ferry Tour (KFT) from 2016-17 and then became a PGA TOUR event in 2018 where Brice Garnett shot a 63 on Thursday and no worse than 70 the rest of the week. McDowell also played well here last season, shooting back-to-back rounds of 64 on Friday and Saturday.
Corales recorded some of the highest fairways hit in regulation, measuring 73 percent in 2018 (second to Trinity Forest) and 72 percent last season. Greens hit in regulation is similar to the TOUR average. We also see a higher amount of scrambling over the TOUR average, which may be due to these tricky green complexes, potential wind and paspalum greens. Paspalum greens are on two other TOUR courses — El Camaleon GC for the Mayakoba Golf Classic and the Grand Reserve CC for the Puerto Rico Open.
As mentioned earlier, we should treat this course similar to the events we see on the Korn Ferry Tour — ball-strikers and birdie makers win. Both Garnett and McDowell had at least one round of 64 or better the prior years and that’s what it’s going to take at Corales. One of the reasons the scores aren’t closer to 25-under is the wind. The course hugs the coast on the Eastern tip of the island and is susceptible to coastal conditions. In 2018, the first round was windy and scores ballooned up into the high 70s. Check the wind forecast leading up to Thursday.
Will Zalatoris ($10,900)
A Korn Ferry Tour (KFT) stud, Zalatoris did not disappoint at Winged Foot, finishing inside the top 6 in his second major, gaining 10.98 strokes tee-to-green (T2G). His T2G numbers ranked seventh last week and he’s undoubtedly feeling confident this week heading into a course where his ball-striking can reign supreme. Zalatoris will be heavily rostered this week and maybe you want to fade him based on fatigue from playing (and competing) in the U.S. Open, which is understandable. Just know what you’re potentially leaving off your roster: first in greens in regulation (GIR) percentage, second in GIR from the fairway, 30th in driving distance and fourth in birdie average on the KFT this season.
Sam Burns ($10,100)
Burns has gained strokes off-the-tee in five straight tournaments and ranks fourth in driving distance since the restart. Burns has made six of his past seven cuts and most recently finished with a top 7 at the Safeway Open, where he gained 7.5 strokes tee-to-green. Burns has been great with his ball-striking since the restart, ranking ninth in birdies or better gained and ninth in overall proximity. Burns’ distance will get him in scoring opportunities with his irons. Over the previous three months, he ranks 15th in proximity from 100 to 125 yards and third in 75 to 100 yards. With four par 5s, we should expect the green light from most of the players to go for it in two and Burns is tremendous from 200-yards plus at 17th in the field since the restart. His 12th-place finish here last season also helps.
Luke List ($8,700)
Emiliano Grillo ($9,800) and List suffer the same fate: tremendous ball-strikers, but inefficient on the greens. List has lost an average of 4.2 strokes on the greens in his past five starts but has only missed the cut in one of those events. He’s gained 3.6 strokes tee-to-green in the same timeframe and just won on the Korn Ferry Tour at TPC Sawgrass back in June. List can make birdies in bunches and, similar to Grillo, if the putter gets to field average, he’ll return value at his price tag.
Patton Kizzire ($7,000)
Kizzire ranks as one of the Tour’s longest hitters, ranking inside the top 30 in this field over the previous three months. Kizzire struggles with his driver but he may find it more manageable to keep the ball in the fairway at Corales with some of the widest and most frequently hit fairways on Tour. The two-time winner has missed three of his past six cuts, but both of his wins have come at coastal courses (OHL Classic at Mayakoba, Sony Open in Hawaii). Kizzire is a risk to miss the cut, which is why his roster percentage should stay relatively low. Still, we’re getting a big hitter who ranks ninth in birdie or better gained since the restart and has win equity in this range, which is hard to come by.
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