Out of the Rough: The Corales Puntacana Championship
As the top 64 golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) take to Austin Country Club for the World Golf Championship (WGC) Dell Technologies Match Play, the rest of the Tour will head to the Dominican Republic for the Corales Puntacana Championship.
Although the second designated alternate event of the season, the field is much better than what we saw at the Puerto Rico Open as that played opposite a full field event in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Chad Ramey is the defending champion of the event as he used four consecutive birdies in his final round to come from behind and ultimately win by one shot.
He’s back this year to defend his title and look to become the event’s first ever back-to-back champion.
Ben Martin returns this year after a heart-breaking tie for second after failing to hold off Ramey’s run a year ago.
Other former winners of the event in this year’s field include the 2021 winner Joel Dahmen, 2018 winner Brice Garnett and Dominic Bozzelli, who won the first installment of this event in 2016 when it was part of the Korn Ferry Tour.
Other past Tour winners joining the past winners and are part of this year’s field include Ryan Brehm, Tyler Duncan, Jim Herman, Erik van Rooyen and Richy Werenski.
Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker, and Geoff Ogilvy are teeing it up this week as well as former major champions of the PGA Tour.
Thomas Detry is the highest-ranked golfer in the FedEx Cup standings in this year’s field of 120 players.
There will be plenty of Korn Ferry Tour graduates teeing it up this week as well as they seek valuable FedEx Cup points.
Corales Golf Club plays as a par 72 at over 7,6000 yards, making it one of the longest courses on all of the Tour.
Corales Golf Club is a thing of beauty as it features six oceanside holes and an endless display of natural beauty.
The course is very open off the tee and combining that with the long distance of the course makes it for a bomber’s paradise.
The Paspalum greens, seen just twice prior this season (most recently at the Puerto Rico Open,) are where this event is often won.
The green complexes are very difficult and will cause players fits all event long. Being able to navigate these tricky Tom Fazio designed putting surfaces will be the difference between winning and losing this week.
If we take a look at the past two champions of the event, Ramey and Dahmen, they both finished in the top-three in putts-per-round to put into perspective the importance of putting this week.
Corales Golf Club’s closing three-hole stretch, known as ‘The Devil’s Elbow’ will once again be the spotlight this week. The par-four 18th hole features a force carry of the Bay of Corales.
Wind will be a factor as the course is coastline. The coastal winds at these type of events always come into play
As for weather this week, highs are set for the low 80 degrees with up to a 20-percent chance of precipitation. Wind speeds are set for 15-to-16 miles-per-hour across all four days. With the wind expected, conditions seem to be ideal this week.
Important statistics to consider this week include:
Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT)
Birdie or Better Percentage
Par 5 Scoring Average
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Average Driving Distance
Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)
Sand Saves Percentage
Wyndham Clark ($10,500) is both the betting favorite and the most expensive golfer in DFS this week and that’s for good reason. He’s currently seventh on Tour in average driving distance, 30th in par five average scoring, 37th in SG: PUTT, 40th in birdie or better percentage, 52nd in SG: OTT, 61st in SG: ATG, 64th in GIR%, 72nd in scrambling, 83rd in sand saves and 87th in SG: PUTT. In other words, he’s above average in each of the statistical categories we’re taking into consideration this week. He’s been playing some phenomenal golf as of late as well. In seven events on the calendar year, Clark has made the cut in all of them. Most recently, last week at the Valspar Championship he placed fifth. Prior to that he placed tenth at the WM Phoenix Open a few weeks back. Clark played this event a year ago and placed T22nd. When I placed my bets earlier on Monday he was at +1100 but as of the time of writing this he’s made his way down to +1000. I’ll be putting three units on him this week.
The choice in this price range is a name I have recently featured in multiple editions of this series in Thomas Detry ($9,600.) Prior to a missed cut at The Players, Detry made the cut in all ten tournaments he played on the season, excluding a withdrawal from the Honda Classic after the opening round of play. He started the calendar year with four straight made cuts. His run of form has been highlighted by a T24th finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational a few weeks back. Detry has played in this event the past four years placing T15th in 2022, T13th in 2021 and T33rd in both 2020 and 2019. He has a proven track record at this event and is ready to make that breakthrough. He’s currently 12th on Tour in scrambling, 14th in sand saves percentage, 26th in average driving distance, 33rd in SG: ATG, 34th in birdie or better percentage, 71st in SG: PUTT, 75th in SG: OTT, 100th in SG: APP, 120th in GIR% and 140th in par five scoring average. At +2200, he’ll be receiving two units on my behalf.
I’ve been down this road in the past and it’s bit me, but I’m back in on Cameron Percy ($8,300.) Percy has played some of his best golf of the past few seasons at this event. He placed T4th a year ago and placed T8th in 2020. We last saw Percy on Tour a week ago at the Valspar Championship where he placed T16th. The aforementioned play of Percy that bit me happened back at the Puerto Rico Open where he missed the cut. Prior to that he went T12th at the Honda Classic. We can hope he plays as well as he did at the Valspar Championship or Honda Classic than he did at the Puerto Rico Open this week. Percy is currently 13th on Tour in scrambling, 22nd in SG: PUTT, 32nd in SG: OTT, 39th in sand saves percentage, 75th in GIR%, 86th in SG: APP, 119th in par five scoring average and 147th in SG: ATG. He places very low (181st) in average driving distance which is understandable for someone who is 48 years-old. He’s also near the bottom of the Tour in birdie or better percentage (204th.) It’ll take something out-of-the-ordinary for Percy to keep pace this week but like I previously mentioned, he played very well at the Valspar and Honda Classic, why can’t he do it again this week? Percy is currently at +3100 to win. With the way he ranks in our model, despite the placement in average driving distance and birdie or better percentage, I’ll have a few dollars on him this week.
I played Dylan Wu ($7,700) a week ago at the Valspar Championship in the $6,900-and-under price range. He played some good golf heading into Sunday at three-under before shooting a seven-over and finishing four-over. Wu is currently 21st on Tour in GIR%, 65th in SG: OTT, 69th in birdie or better percentage, 78th in SG: APP, 79th in par five scoring average, 83rd in SG: ATG, 92nd in scrambling, 133rd in SG: PUTT, 137th in average driving distance and 140th in sand saves percentage. Wu has made five consecutive cuts heading into this week. The highlight of that stretch of made cuts was a T10th at the Honda Classic. He also placed T35th at THE PLAYERS which doesn’t seem that impressive but in a field of the Tour’s best, that is an accomplishment. Wu played in this event a year ago where he made the cut. Let’s hope for a repeat and then some this year. He’s currently at +4500 to win.
Austin Eckroat ($6,900) is the choice in this final price range. If we’re going off of run of form, this isn’t the pick to make. Eckroat has missed the cut in six consecutive events. However, we recently saw Chad Ramey, who missed three consecutive cuts, tie the course record at TPC Sawgrass two weeks back at THE PLAYERS. I’m not saying the same will happen this week but what I’m saying is, anything is possible. This will also be the first year that Eckroat plays this event. He is currently 43rd on Tour in SG: OTT, 73rd in scrambling, 81st in SG: PUTT, 106th in average par five scoring, 107th in birdie or better percentage, 108th in sand saves percentage, 117th in SG: ATG, 121st in SG: APP, 134th in GIR and 158th in average par five scoring. He sits at +10000 to win and since we’re talking about him, why not throw a dart at that number?