The Corales Puntacana Championship began its life as a professional golf tournament on the Korn Ferry Tour back in 2016. The event was won that season by Dominic Bozzelli–who is in the field this week–and lasted one more year as a Korn Ferry event before graduating into full fledged PGA status in 2018.
Normally, the Domincan Republic-based event is held as an opposite field tournament in late March, giving players who don’t make the elite 64-man field of the WGC Match Play a chance for some extra FedEx Cup points. This year though, the event gets a new date and takes on full event status, featuring a 154-man field with lots of FedEx Cup points and prize money attached.
While the event still hasn’t managed to attract that many stars it’s not short on intrigue. Henrik Stenson, the 43rd player in the OWGR is in attendance and he’ll be looking to find the same kind of magic on these greens that another veteran found here last season in 2019 winner Graeme McDowell. McDowell’s win here last season was his first since 2016 and he was the second veteran in a row to find the winner’s circle at Puntacana, with journeyman Brice Garnett winning the inaugural event in 2018.
The open nature of this field has also attracted many hungry, young players in search of their first big break on the PGA. Last week’s surprise finisher at the US Open, Will Zalatoris comes in with some scorching hot recent form and he’ll be looking to punch a full-time ticket to the PGA this week. Sam Burns, a player who I’ve featured here numerous times of late, and who finished T7 at the Safeway Open two weeks ago, is also here. Burns and Zalatoris will lead a young crew of players who could, in theory, light up this resort-style venue, but they’ll have to deal with a crowd of crafty veterans, like McDowell and Garnett, who have done better at solving this coastal venue the first two years than their younger counterparts.
The Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship course details
Corales Golf Club
- Par: 72, 7650 yards
- Greens: Paspalum
- Design: Tom Fazio (2018)
- Past Champions
- 2019 Graeme McDowell (18-under par)
- 2018 Brice Garnett (18-under par)
- Both Garnett and McDowell led the field in Putts per GIR during the week of their win
- Both ranked inside the top-30 in driving accuracy but also outside the top-50 in driving distance
- Both men went 10-under par on the Par 5’s for the week of their win
Corales Golf Club is a typical PGA resort venue that features easier to hit fairways and receptive greens that shouldn’t run too fast on the stimpmeter. The field here hit over 70% of the fairways last season so don’t expect off the tee play to be a huge decider. Length will still be an advantage–especially on the back-nine where there are two Par 5’s that measure in over 600 yards and multiple long Par 4’s–but this event will be decided by those whose irons give them the most birdie looks and whose putters run the hottest.
The greens here are Paspalum which is typical of most tropical courses and tends to play softer, overall, which should make these greens easy to hit. The course does play long at over 7,600 yards but length hasn’t been the deciding factor here in any of the previous events it has hosted. The last two winners here have averaged well under 290 yards off the tee for the week of their win and both still managed to play the Par 5’s in 10-under par the week.
It’s worth noting though that the fields the last few years have been completely devoid of top end talent. This season will likely give us a better idea of whether or not Corales can actually be overpowered as we have a few more elite “bombers” in the field who can both drive the ball long and putt at a decent rate. There are longer holes to deal with on the back nine as two of the final Par 4’s come in at well over 450 yards and are along the coast. This gives the course some correlation to many of the other coastal venues we see on the rotation and venues like Hilton Head and Pebble Beach are likely solid correlators this week.
Corales played as just the 30th-toughest venue on Tour last season (out of 49) and with wind expected to be fairly moderate again this week, we should expect solid scoring conditions and be focusing more on players who can take advantage of these softer conditions to put up some low numbers.
2020 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship betting discussion and picks
From an odds perspective, here are where the last two winners of this event generally went off, from an outright perspective, pre-event for the year of their win:
2019-Graeme McDowell +3300
2018-Brice Garnett +5000
The first two years of this tournament saw it played as an opposite field event so field strength was quite limited. Veterans have been dominant here though and thus far players with solid experience coming in, with average to above average recent form, have closed out wins here. The course seems likely to allow a big variety of players to compete, although it’s worth noting that both winners weren’t too far down the board in terms of odds. Both Garnett and McDowell had made the cut in their previous start on Tour, making solid showings against tougher fields before prevailing here.
Betting favorites to win the 2019 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship
Zalatoris is coming off a massive week at the US Open where he landed himself a T6 in his first ever major championship start. The 24-year old ranks first on the Korn Ferry Tour in points and has incredibly finished T6 or better now in nine of his last 12 starts, overall. Despite this being just his second PGA start since 2018 (the first was last week) he’s the overall betting favorite here. It’s hard to lay off someone playing this good but the venue this week will likely bring more of the field into play and for all his top finishes he’s only closed once in his pro career.
Hughes had a great run at the end of the 2019/2020 season, making his first ever Tour Championship start. The Canadian finished T2 at this event last season and certainly should be brimming with confidence after landing top-15 finishes in three straight playoff starts. He ranks first in the field in SG: Putting over the last 50 rounds and profiles as the type of player who should excel on this wide open setup. He deserves to be one of the favorites but his inconsistency tee to green means this kind of short price offers no value.
Conners missed the cut at the US Open last week and has now missed the cut in three of his last five PGA starts. Despite that, he remains one of the betting favorites here which does speak to how weak the field is, overall. Conners has remained steady Tee to Green but has lost strokes putting now in five of his last six starts. He’s likely to challenge for a top-10 position but is likely going to have issues making enough putts here to compete for the win.
Everything that I wrote about Conners also applies to Grillo. The Argentine gained over +8 strokes in the tee to green department his last time at the Safeway Open but has now lost -2.5 strokes or more putting in each of his last three starts. He finished T50 here in 2018 and likely makes for a solid top-20 bet given how consistent his ball-striking is. He’s nearly double the odds of Conners in the outright market so he does make for a more attractive target there but there are better values down the board.
Stenson is an interesting figure in this event. The Swede took a lot of time off after the restart and is only making his fourth start on the PGA since June this week. He hasn’t looked great in either of his two major championships starts though and missed the cut by a couple strokes last week. Still, he’s the only top-50 player in the world in attendance and feels like a great value considering both his pedigree and the fact we’ve seen solid veterans like himself come in and win this event the past two seasons.
Favorite bets (each-ways and outrights)
For more info on types of golf bets available each week, be sure to check out more info here. Each way bets refer to bets that include a bet to win and a bet to place (usually to at least top-5 but sometimes are available up to top-8 or more).
Burns let us down a couple of weeks ago at the Safeway Open, taking a 36-hole lead and turning it into just a T7 finish. The 24-year-old is clearly trending well right now though and still makes for a great outright bet for me here at a smaller price. Burns ranks 2nd in scoring opportunities gained in the field over the last 50 rounds and also ranks first in strokes gained on Par 5’s over the same time frame.
The venue change from a tighter West coast venue to a more resort style setting should also favour Burns who finished T12 at Corales back in 2019. He shot 66 to close that event and has typically excelled in scoring-fests on the PGA throughout his career. Burns posted a T6 finish at 19-under-par at the Barbasol (in just his fourth ever PGA start) back in 2017, a T3 at the Sanderson Farm event (15-under-par) in 2018 and a T6 earlier in 2020 at the American Express (19-under-par). With four scorable Par 5’s in play and more favourable driving conditions for the long but sometimes inaccurate hitter, he rates out as the best play for me among the favorites and very worthy of a bet at these prices.
Xinjun Zhang +4000 or better (each way)
Zhang’s the type of player who should really benefit from the drop down in field strength this week. The 31-year-old has done his best work on the PGA in the Fall and opposite field events and has again started to show some form late in the year. He gained +4.8 strokes on his Approaches in his last start at the Safeway Open–a performance that produced a T14 finish– and has now collected top-15 finishes in three of his last six starts on the PGA.
Zhang collected a T5 at this event in 2018, shooting a 66 in round one that year in windy conditions and ranks out 12th in Birdies or Better gained in the field over the last 50 rounds. More important than recent form though, Zhang’s been a winner at every level thus far in his career, picking up a victory on the PGA China in 2018 and two wins on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019. He’s unlikely to be intimidated by this sort of field and should be confident after a good start to his Fall swing. Even at a reduced price, his proven ability to close on several Tours makes him a solid target for me here.
Chris Kirk +6600 or better (each way)
With veterans taking the first two iterations of this tournament, there’s a lot of reasons to like Chris Kirk for me this week. The four-time PGA winner has battled back from an extended break due to an alcohol addiction and even posted a win in mid-June on the Korn Ferry Tour. His starts on the PGA Tour haven’t borne as much fruit yet but positive signs are starting to show.
Kirk actually ranks out quite well in this field in several areas and is second behind Burns in strokes gained on Par 5’s and is also 10th in the field in SG:TTG stats over the last 50-rounds. He’s gained strokes off the tee and on approach in both of his last two starts and flashed some upside a couple of events back in Detroit where he was up near the lead after a second-round 65. Given the last two winners here, it wouldn’t shock me in the least to see him get in contention in this weaker field, that bears out very similarly to the one he defeated at The King and Bear Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour in June. He’s worth the each-way investment for me here given the price and progression his game has shown of late.
Kurt Kitayama +8000 or better (each-way)
There’s a huge range of outcomes on Kitayama this week, but it’s hard to ignore his upside in this field. The 27-year-old hasn’t produced any significant results yet on the PGA Tour but its possible the move down to a weaker field is the boost he needs to get going. The California native has collected two wins already over on the European Tour, where he’s plied his trade for most of his career, one of which came at a coastal venue much like we’re going to see this week in Oman.
The easy to hit fairways and less penal nature of Corales should play into his hands as he’s not the straightest hitter off the tee but seems unlikely to be penalized much for it this week. While the recent form looks uninspiring, it’s worth noting that his second win over in Europe came off the back of three missed cuts. This is a player who posted three top-5’s last Fall against elite fields in the Euro Tour playoffs, so I can’t help but think that taking advantage of this price against such a thin field is a good idea. A small investment on double-K at big prices feels like a good way to round out an outright card to me this week.
Martin Laird +800
Laird disappointed us at the Safeway Open in this spot a couple weeks ago, shooting a round one 68 but following it up with a round two 75 that saw him miss the cut. The Scotsman did gain strokes on his approaches in both rounds and mainly just suffered from a complete meltdown with his putter on Friday. He’s typically elevated his game quite well in weaker events like the one we’re getting at Corlaes and landed a T6 earlier in the season in Puerto Rico; and top 10’s last year at both the Barbasol and Barracuda events. Long-term, Laird has outperformed this price against fields like this so I don’t mind giving him at one more shot at nail a solid week given the odds.
First-round leader bets
Howell and Long have had fairly similar results over the last month or so, but Long’s been a touch more consistent and beat Howell badly on the weekend at the US Open, finishing T13 at to Howell’s T30. Neither player has played this venue on the PGA but Long did play here on the Korn Ferry Tour back in 2017 and finished T8. Long also leads Howell in opportunities gained and strokes gained tee to green stats by a comfortable margin over their last 50-rounds. Long deserves to be favoured here and still feels like a solid play at that price.
First round leader bets
Seamus Power +8000 (each-way)
- Playing venue for fourth time in competition this year–T8 in 2016 (KF Tour), T5 in 2018 (PGA Tour)
- Ranked 12th in first round scoring last season and has opened with 68 or better now in last three stroke play events
- Early tee time on Thursday that should avoid afternoon winds forecast
JJ Spaun +9000 (each-way)
- Popular player to target this week, but perhaps better for the first-round leader market than overall win
- Showed up with a solid week out of nowhere at the Safeway, gaining over +8-strokes tee to green
- Not a consistent putter, but can get hot for one round and has a big price and early Thursday tee time.