Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2021 Palmetto Championship Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from Congaree.
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2021 Palmetto Championship: Field
156 Players | Top 65 & Ties Make The Cut
First Tee: Thursday, June 10
Defending Champion: New Event
For the second straight year, the world’s third-oldest national championship has been replaced on the schedule by a course in South Carolina. Being Canadian, it sucks losing the only event in your country. Not really a national pride thing, but I did look forward to a PGA TOUR event happening 20 minutes from my front door. Experiencing that level of convenience was just never meant to be.
I wasn’t too bummed out a year ago when The Heritage took this spot on the schedule as the second tournament out of the restart, as The Heritage is my favorite event. I kind of enjoyed that. But this year? Some random course sponsored by a Woody Harrelson/Elisabeth Shue erotic thriller from 1998.
A flick I remember very well. 1998 was the year of adolescent Pat Mayo sneaking into any movie which appeared like it may include a moment of nudity. Obviously, Wild Things also came out that year. Who knew that the money “Palmetto” could have used on better effects and an actual story was actually locked in a vault for the sole purpose of sponsoring a replacement golf tournament 23 years later to ... create awareness for an upcoming VOD release? On the one hand, I respect the prescience of knowing this very specific opportunity would arise over two decades later. However, they had a total lack of foresight on this genre of movie going extinct the moment dial-up internet became wildly available beyond computer labs at schools and colleges.
The area between Charleston and Savannah has morphed from “Southern Charm” filming location to PGA TOUR hot spot in 2021. Harbour Town and Sea Island are always on the schedule, but this year has seen the influx of the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island and a Canadian Open replacement at Congaree Golf Club. Usually, Canadians wait until the winter to migrate to the Southern United States, but here we are.
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They lucked out in terms of field, too. Although a bunch of top players played The Memorial over the weekend, with the U.S. Open commencing in a week, some of the other top-end talent actually decided to show up to get some reps in before the year’s third major championship. If not, this event would have the field strength of the Korn Ferry Championship. Bryson Brooks Koepka is back in action for the first time since becoming a meme lord at the PGA Championship. He’s joined by Tyrrell Hatton, Sungjae Im, Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and local kid Dustin Johnson, who also happens to be the No. 1-ranked player in the world.
NOTE: Charley Hoffman, Si WOOOOO Kim, and Doug Ghim have already pulled out of the event. The field is no longer great. Additionally, with US Open qualifiers this week, different names in the field may head to Torrey Pines early if they qualify for the year’s third Major and WD from this field. So be on the look out. Branden Grace is out now too.
Beyond Ian Poulter,
Branden Grace, Erik van Rooyen, Danny Willett, Paddy Harrington and the resurgent Rafa Cabrera-Bello, there’s a decent international contingent with a few of the U.S. Open qualifiers from the European Tour filtering over a week early. It’s the young South Africans you need to watch out for. Garrick Higgo, 22, makes his first American non-major start after an impressive showing at Kiawah last month. Meanwhile, 21-year-old Wilco Nienaber will make his first start on American soil as a professional. I can’t speak to what he’s done in his spare time. While Nienaber took down a Challenger/Sunshine Tour event in May, it’s Higgo who you should be watching.
Now up to No. 52 in the world rankings, Higgo has won at every level so far in his very short career. Three years ago, he won on the Sunshine minor league tour, then on the real thing. Last season, he claimed the Tour Championship in South Africa then notched a European Tour/Challenger win in Portugal coming out of the restart. This year, he’s already taken down two European Tour events, hence the rise to 52nd-ranked player in the world.
Seven-time college winner/Ben Hogan award winner John Pak and 2020-21 SEC Player of the Year Davis Thompson are making their professional debuts, while the amazingly named University of Texas standout Cole Hammer and Doc Redman’s former Clemson teammate and local product Bryson Nimmer are all in the field too.
2021 Palmetto Championship: Key Stats
Strokes Gained: Approach
Strokes Gained: Around The Green
Sand Saves Gained
Strokes Gained: Off The Tee
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
2021 Palmetto Championship: Course
Course: Congaree Golf Club
2021 Palmetto Championship: Past Winners
2021 Palmetto Championship: Notes
Not a ton is known about how Congaree Golf Club is going to play during a professional setup. It’s incredibly long, featuring two par 4s measuring well over 500 yards, and there is a ton of natural sand scattered across the ground. Players will be able to ground their clubs in the hazards this week like they were able to do at Kiawah Island a few weeks back.
A Tom Fazio design (Shadow Creek, Firestone, Corales, Pinehurst No. 8), in the absence of rain, will play incredibly fast, both on the fairways and greens. And with relatively little rough on the course, if it remains baked out, it appears like any style of player will have an opportunity to compete. If rains come through the week, a lean toward bombers would be the prudent move. It does appear as though there will be some thundershowers in the forecast leading up to the event, but it’s unclear whether or not they’ll be flash storms or if they’ll generate enough rain to really dampen the course. It’s always best to check back with the weather on Wednesday to get a better sense of what effects it is likely to have.
Lucas Glover is an ambassador for the course and he says: “If it remains fast and firm (meaning little or no rain), you’ll see different styles of play. You’ll see the bombers hitting over the trouble, shorter hitters running it between the problems.” — The GLOVE
Since the weather is a mystery, the best way to approach it is to compare it to courses we’ve seen over time. It’s essentially going to play like desert golf, with the ability for a lot of styles to compete. That sounds a lot like the Desert Swing and the end-of-year events on the European Tour. And with its shaved greens and ability to fly the ball or keep it grounded (or putt!) from the green side, I’d throw in Royal Melbourne and some of the Scottish courses as well. Basically, if it doesn’t pour rain, expect craft Euros and International players to have a better idea of how to navigate this layout.
Despite its length, the course is completely flat, thus why shorter hitters can generate a lot of rollout on drives and approaches, and if it’s set up the right way, the par 4s — No. 3 and No. 15 — could both be drivable for the field. If this is as challenging as the reports indicate, event organizers may need to create a few spots for the field to generate some easier birdie looks. It is funny that Congaree was selected as the Canadian Open fill-in event leading into the U.S. Open, despite being on the other side of the country and having no rough. Not exactly a great tune-up event.
As there’s a lot of mystery surrounding the course, for DraftKings lineups, it’s best to pick a lane and roll with it. Package similar style players together and hope you pick right. Now, you’ll likely be wrong, but what really makes that different from any other week?
2021 Palmetto Championship Picks
Tyrrell Hatton ($10,200)
Slowly piecing his game back together as he tries to cling to his Top 10 world ranking, Hatton fits the bill of shot-making European player I think can handle the different looks this course is going to provide. He notched a victory in Abu Dhabi earlier this year and has generated Top 3 finishes in the other Middle Eastern events over the past few years (DP World Tour Championship and Dubai Desert Classic) along with wins at the premier Scottish courses in the Alfred Dunhill.
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Danny Willett ($7,900) The former Masters champion is starting to even out his game again. He’s now made three of four cuts and continues to be carried by his touch around the greens, which will go a long way if this event sees a very low greens in regulation percentage. Plus, like Hatton, he’s been pretty successful with hot, dry golf over the years. Of his six career wins, two have come in the Middle East — the 2018 European Tour Championship and 2016 Dubai Desert Classic.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Danny Willett has withdrawn from this week’s tournament.
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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was a finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
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