The Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship is the next event on the PGA TOUR, and while there’s a lot of great, young talent in this tournament, it’s a far cry from last week’s U.S. Open. Puntacana isn’t going to garner the same interest as a major. It should still be considered more than what it was in previous years with it being a full FedExCup event. The winner will get the full FedExCup points along with all the accolades and exemptions that come with winning a PGA TOUR event.
2018 was the first year this event was a PGA TOUR sanctioned tournament. In the previous two years, Corales played on the Korn Ferry Tour, and this is how we should be approaching this tournament. Ball-strikers and birdie makers usually do well in most tournaments (not a surprise), but they’ll have a field day at this course with easy to hit fairways and not much wind to contend with this week.
The RSM Classic at Sea Island Resort is a leaderboard correlation, but the Puerto Rico Open and OHL Classic at Mayakoba are two courses with similar course conditions. Both are played in tropical settings and have similar greens (paspalum).
In 2018, Brice Garnett was +6600, and Graeme McDowell registered at +4000 last season. Both shot 18-under par.
Long was tremendous at the U.S. Open, finishing in the top 15 while gaining 5.3 strokes tee-to-green. Long finished runner up at the 3M Open back in July and has made six straight cuts. He has lost strokes with his irons in only one of those events (BMW Championship). Long’s ball-striking could lead him to success, and his putting will only help. Sam Burns at +2000 is another player we should be looking at in this range.
Both Garnett and McDowell had fantastic putting in their respective wins, and we’re going to stick to this trend with Denny McCarthy. McCarthy ranks 12th in SG: Putting over the previous three months and has played well on similar courses with an eighth at the RSM Classic in 2019 and a fourth at this event back in 2018. The ball-striking has gotten better over the last five events, gaining an average of 2.7 strokes, and he was able to record a top 10 back in August at the Wyndham Championship. McCarthy also ranks third in birdie or better gained since the restart, so we know he can compete when this becomes a birdie fest.
Kizzire struggles with accuracy off-the-tee but should find it easier at Corales with some of the easiest to hit fairways on the PGA TOUR. Kizzire is a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, and both have come at coastal courses (OHL Classic at Mayakoba, Sony Open in Hawaii), where missing the fairway isn’t as penal as other events. His length with the driver and his ability on the greens, ranking 26th in putting since the restart, could work well here.
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