We have a full field for this year’s version of the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, the first time it will be played as a non-opposite field event. Its normal place on the schedule generally falls in late March alongside the WGC Matchplay event, but this year it will serve as the only PGA TOUR event for the week after 2020’s second major. 154 golfers will be teeing it up in Puntacana and there’s admittedly not much elite star power in attendance. Henrik Stenson ($9,500) is the only top 50 player here and he’s dropped all the way down to 43rd in the OWGR.
Defending champion Graeme McDowell ($7,800) will look to go back to back this week as he took down last year’s version of this event by a stroke. More hardcore golf fans will be delighted to see younger players like Will Zalatoris ($10,900) and Akshay Bhatia ($6,900) getting starts here. Zalatoris leads the Korn Ferry Tour in points and is coming off a T5 finish at the U.S. Open—where he tied at +5 with Dustin Johnson. Bhatia is an 18-year-old phenom who recently bypassed the college route to turn pro and is coming off a T9 two weeks ago at the Safeway Open.
Corales Golf Club—Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Par 72, 7,650 yards; Greens-Bermuda
Corales will be hosting this PGA TOUR event for the third straight year. The Tom Fazio designed resort course has acted as the host for the Corales Puntacana Championship since its inception in 2018. While it plays as a rather long Par 72 at over 7,600 yards, the venue played as the 19th easiest on the PGA TOUR in 2018-2019 and saw players post a scoring average of about a stroke under par for the week.
Corales is a seaside venue with little trees, so wind can be a huge factor here. It’s simplistic in its design with the front-nine being mostly inland but still playing mostly open, like a links style setting. The back nine has a few forced carries over water and doglegs in its design and is also longer by about 300 yards. The venue features smallish Bermuda greens and compares favorably to some of the venues we see on the Florida swing in that regard.
As a Par 72, Corales does contain four Par 5’s on the course, two of which measure in at well over 600-yards. The last two winners here have played the Par 5’s in 10-under Par for the week so its pretty clear these holes will need to be taken advantage of. That said, a lack of length has not been an issue for going low at Corales. Both Brice Garnett ($7,900) and Graeme McDowell averaged well under 290 yards off the tee during the weeks of their wins and still managed to destroy the Par 5’s for the week. The fairways here are easy to hit, so solid iron play and putting have made the difference in separating the winners here thus far.
2020 Outlook: Despite the possibility of wind rolling in off the ocean and making this very open course play quite tough, it does look like the weather will cooperate for the players in 2020. Gusts aren’t expected to get much past 10 mph at all this week with afternoon winds on Thursday and Friday topping at around 8-10 mph. The temperatures look like they’ll be steady most of the week as well, as highs are expected to remain in the high 80’s, with lows not progressing past the mid-70’s. Even a small amount of wind will affect scoring on this very open course but don’t expect weather to play too much of a factor in 2020. For showdown purposes, the a.m. waves will definitely have decent advantages though as winds in the a.m. are projected, as of writing, to be significantly less on both of the first two starting days.
2019—Graeme McDowell -18 (over Mackenzie Hughes and Chris Stroud -17)
2018—Brice Garnett -18 (over Keith Mitchell -14)
- Each of the last two winners had played in a PGA TOUR event the week prior to their win and made the cut.
- Each of the last two winners ranked outside the top 50 in driving distance for the week and led the field in Putts, per GIR.
Winners Statistics and Course Highlights
Graeme McDowell 2019 (18-under-par)
Driving Distance (rank) – 53rd
Driving Accuracy (rank) – 31st
Greens in Regulation (rank) – 16th
SG: TTG – +13.5
Putts per GIR – 1st
- Fairways here were very easy to hit and not very penal if you missed either. Players did average over 70% driving accuracy here last season; eventual winner Graeme McDowell hit 73% of fairways.
- The course does contain four Par 5’s, two of which are over 600 yards in length; four par 4’s also measure over 450 yards.
- Despite the longer holes though, driving distance hasn’t been a factor here at all; the last two winners have averaged just 286 and 287 yards off the tee, respectively. Both led the field in Putts per GIR though for the week.
DraftKings Sportsbook odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value compared to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
Pat Perez +2500 and $9,100 (DraftKings)
- Sepp Straka +3300 and $9,300
- Thomas Detry +4000 and $9,400
- Kristoffer Ventura +3300 and $9,200
Mark Anderson +6600 and $7,200 (DraftKings)
- Doug Ghim +7000 and $7,300
- Beau Hossler +8000 and $7,200
- Chris Kirk +8000 and $7,400
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
1. Will Zalatoris ($10,900, Recent finishes: T6-T2-T19): Zalatoris is coming off an amazing U.S. Open where he landed himself a top-10 finish and was sixth in the field in SG:TTG stats. He’s already won twice on the KF Tour this year and looks primed to make his mark on the PGA TOUR very soon.
2. Mackenzie Hughes ($10,300, Recent finishes: MC-T10-T14): Hughes missed the cut at the U.S. Open but had posted three top-15 finishes in a row prior to that. He’s ranked 2nd in SG:ATG and 1st in SG:PUTT stats in this field over the last 50-rounds.
3. Sam Burns ($10,100, Recent finishes: T7-MC-T13): Burns is coming off a solid week at the Safeway Open, where he shot 15-under par in the first two rounds. The American didn’t have a great weekend there but has now finished T32 or better in five of his last six starts. He’s playing well and seems primed to compete for the win in this weaker field.
4. Emiliano Grillo ($9,800, Recent finishes: T29-T44): Grillo has now made five cuts in a row and is coming off a T29 finish at the Safeway Open, which would have been a lot better if not for a complete implosion on the greens over the weekend. He’s a solid play in this weaker field and could challenge if he manages to putt to field average.
5. Kristoffer Ventura ($9,200, Recent finishes: T7-T37): Ventura has now made the cut in three of his last four PGA TOUR starts and is coming off a T7 finish at the Safeway Open, where he started the final round just one shot off the lead. He’s ranked 6th in SG:PUTT over the last 50 rounds but will likely need to pick up his approach game here to challenge this week.
DraftKings DFS Strategy
Cash Games: Despite not yet having full PGA TOUR membership, Will Zalatoris ($10,900) still feels like an easy target here at under $11K. The two-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour this year was sixth in SG:TTG stats last week against a strong field and won’t be intimidated by the competition here. Sam Burns ($10,100) is also a good high-tier target and finished T7 in his last start and was T12 at Corales in 2019. From lower down, both Xinjun Zhang ($8,400-see below) and Adam Schenk ($8,500) feel like solid targets in the $8K range, with Schenk coming in off of six straight made cuts. Lower down, the likes of Doug Ghim ($7,300) and Mark Anderson ($7,200) could be considered decent targets for this format this week too given their recent form and overall weakness of this field.
Tournaments (GPPs): Charles Howell III ($9,700) has started to find a bit of form, landing a T30 last week at the tough Winged Foot, but could still go under-owned here. He’s often excelled in Fall events and even found a win at one a couple years ago at the RSM Classic. Charley Hoffman ($8,900) remains a huge enigma but has landed top-15 finishes in two of his last five starts. He shouldn’t be overly popular given the recent inconsistency. Lower down, players like Kurt Kitayama ($7,100) and Akshay Bhatia ($6,900) make for solid GPP targets given their relative upside here. Bhatia is coming in off a top-10 while Kitayama has won twice over in Europe and has the ability to make a ton of birdies on a venue with four scoreable par 5’s. Other potential GPP targets here include the likes of Chris Kirk ($7,400-see below), and Anirban Lahiri ($6,800).
MY PICK: Xinjun Zhang ($8,400)
Zhang comes into this event off a solid confidence building T14 at the Safeway Open in his last start. The 33-year-old had missed three cuts in a row prior to that finish, but his long-term form looks promising if we zoom out. Zhang’s now finished inside the top-15 in three of his last six starts and looked to have found some ball-striking in Napa as he gained just under +5-strokes on his approaches at Silverado. The good week may have come at a great time too as he’ll now be going up against a much weaker field here and has typically excelled when the competition gets dialed down a bit. Zhang won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour last season and also finished T5 at this event back in 2018 on the PGA TOUR, finishing the week at 11-under par in some tough (windy) conditions. With his form showing signs of promise, he looks like the type of veteran player who could potentially challenge here and sets up as a solid upside play at under $9K in salary this week.
MY SLEEPER: Chris Kirk ($7,400)
If you look at the profile of the last two winners of this event, it really does force us to look harder into some savvy veterans who might be able to come in and profit off a hot week with the putter. Looking down the field, the one name that really sticks out in this regard is Kirk. The four-time TOUR winner is still making his way back after taking time off to deal with off-course issues, but he’s already shown that his game still has plenty of upside, as he won a Korn Ferry Tour event at 26-under Par back in early June. Kirk hasn’t exactly excelled on the PGA TOUR in 2020 but there have been signs that his game might be coming around. He comes in having made four of his last five cuts and has shown better ball-striking over his last couple of starts, gaining over +1.5 strokes on APP and OTT at the Wyndham. Kirk’s always shown the ability to elevate with his putter on easier venues and with his tee to green game on the rise I like him to potentially show up here with a big week. He’s got underrated upside for the field/venue that’s in play this week.
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