Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship
Prior to jumping into this week’s event (which is essentially the equivalent of a minor league golf field), we should at least touch on the dominance that was Bryson DeChambeau at the US Open. He has been a popular topic of discussion over the past few months with regards to his body transformation and his new ability to hit the ball a mile. Some people, myself included, didn’t think he would be able to relay that quick of a switch to immediate success. He wasn’t really on my radar heading into last week’s open but here we sit following the event and he won by six shots. He was the only player under par for the week and did so by not only hitting it far but by piecing together an impressive all-around game. It appears as if no course is safe from the “bomb and gouge” strategy and this may lead to a whole new young crop of golfers who train for nothing but hitting the ball as far as they can. It’s hard to argue with results and Bryson certainly has proven that his new style of play is up for the match of any course or field.
- Anyways, onto this week’s tournament.
- Field: 144 golfers
- Course: Corales Golf Club
- Greens: Paspalum
- Length: 7,600
- Par: 72
- Defending Champion: Graeme McDowell
This week the golfers head to the Dominican Republic for the Corales Championship. The past two years this tournament has been played the same week as the Dell Match Play but with the modified 2020 schedule it is for the first time a stand alone event. The strength of the field is down due to it being the week after a major and the majority of the star names will be taking a much needed week off after the mental and physical test that was Winged Foot. Even though this week is void of the top golfers in the world, there are still plenty of young guys looking to make their name in the world golf scene.
Some of the more recognizable golfers in attendance are Henrik Stenson, Corey Conners, and defending champion, Graeme McDowell; all three of which just missed the cut at the US Open.
There isn’t too much else to touch on when it comes to the field this week. We will break down a few of these young golfers trying to make a name for themselves a little later on. October will be a month that a lot of the top golfers in the world take some time off as they prepare for the November Masters.
Corales Golf Club is a par 72 golf course that stretches over 7,600 yards. Located in the Domincan Republic, it offers photo-worthy views of the oceans and surrounding palm trees that are natve to this area. There have only been two PGA Tour events held here in the past but from those two tournaments we can see that it played fairly easy compared to other tour stops. The cut line has been Even par and -1 and the winning score was -18 in both years. The fairways are wide which leads to driving accuracy percentages that are well above the PGA average. Scrambling percentage is also easier than other tour events which, combined with the ability to hit fairways, should lead to a birdie fest and a winning score somewhere around -20.
One of the main challenges that this course has is the four par-3s are all over 200 yards with one of them stretching upwards of 260 yards. They rank as some of the more challenging holes the golfers will face this week. The par-4s are a little shorter than normal with the majority of them falling between 400 – 450 yards and the four par-5s rank as the four easiest holes even though two of them are over 600 yards.
The greens are soft which makes it easier to hold approach shots but irons that are a little off line will find greenside bunkers and some run off areas which will put an importance on their short game. With how easy it has been to hit greens at this course, it typically turns into a putting contest so the golfers who find the fairways and give themselves the best chances at birdies typically will come out on top.
In summary, golfers who are consistent off the tee, solid with their irons, and dominate par-5s should find their way to the top of the leaderboard this week in Corales. We will definitely look at some key stats but more than anything we are looking for all-around solid golfers who will have an extra motivation to perform well, and not just look at it as a trip to the Dominican. These are the types of weeks that can springboard a young golfer’s career moving forward.
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
- Par 5 scoring
- Proximity Approach 200+ yards
- Birdie of better percentage
Will Zalatoris +1400
We should begin this breakdown by talking about the golfer getting the most hype heading into the event. Zalatoris just posted a top-10 finish at the US Open last week which certainly got all of the golf betting enthusiasts talking. He has been a staple of the Korn Ferry Tour and has been talked up for quite some time now about when he will break through into the PGA Tour. Well, with last week’s finish, he potentially is gaining some momentum and trying to take that to Corales this weekend. These types of events are so important for someone like him as he tries to capture full-time status on the PGA Tour moving forward. It will certainly be a fun story to follow throughout the week but he enters as the betting favorite and I think that is a bit of an overreaction to last week’s performance. I’ll pass on the odds at +1400 but he is incredibly talented and definitely a name we will see moving forward on tour.
Sam Burns +1800
Outside of the Northern Trust, Sam Burns hasn’t missed a cut on tour since June. He has finished in the top-30 in five of his past seven events including a 7th place finish in his most recent start, the Safeway Open. His recent success has been fueled by tee-to-green numbers that are lapping the field. Over the past five starts, he has gained 4.1 strokes: tee-to-green which speaks volumes to how solid his all-around game has been. Historically, the biggest struggle for Burns comes around the green but since the fairways and greens should be easy to hit this week, that won’t necessarily be a key element to success.
Burns is 3rd in this field in strokes gained: off-the-tee and par-5 scoring. He is no worse that 28th in any key stat related to this week. Everything points in the right direction for a breakthrough week for Sam Burns and I’ll be jumping on the 18/1 odds for him to get it done.
Will Gordon +6600
Another young golfer looking for a breakthrough performance on tour, Will Gordon enters this week fresh and rested being that his last event was the Safeway Open back in the beginning of September. He is a driving specialist that is looking to piece together the rest of his game. He came onto the scene back in June when he posted a 3rd place finish at the Travelers gaining him exemption status for more events on the PGA Tour.
Over his past five starts he is gaining an astounding 2.7 strokes: off-the-tee and 2.4 strokes: tee-to-green. The putter and irons have let him down in the past but with how easy the fairways will be to hit this week I expect him to be in a great position to attack most of the greens. Get the putter rolling and Will Gordon could be in contention come Sunday.
Full tournament matchups
Sam Burns +120 vs Will Zalatoris
It is always fun to find the new, exciting golfer on tour and everyone is hoping that it will be Zalatoris. However, I’ll be taking the wait and see approach when it comes to betting on him. I already discussed why I like Burns so much this week but there are even more reasons to like this head-to-head matchup. Burns hasn’t played in a few weeks which some may think means he is rusty but I am looking at it as he is rested. He didn’t have to deal with the mental battle of playing Winged Foot last week. Will Zalatoris should still be on a swing of emotions after the success he had in New York and this screams of a let down spot. Yes, Zalatoris has led the Korn Ferry Tour in a countless number of key stats but that has been on easier courses against much lesser fields. Burns has shown the ability to compete with the best on tour a number of times. Zalatoris will be great in the future but I think we wait a little longer before crowning him the next big thing.
The pick: Sam Burns +120
Sepp Straka -123 vs Charlie Hoffman
Straka pops up in so many key stats heading into this week. He is 2nd in the field in both Par-5 scoring and birdies or better. He is also 4th in proximity from 200+ yards which should make him ready to take on both the par-5s and lengthy par-3s at Corales. He is also coming off a solid finish at the Safeway Open a few weeks ago and is looking for that to jump start him into a successful fall season. Charlie Hoffman tends to either be on the first page of the leaderboard or miss the cut. He really struggles off-the-tee, ranking 90th in this field and that could come as a huge detriment this week. Straka on the other hand ranks 14th off-the-tee which should lead to him being able to attack most flags. I’ll side with the ball striking ability of Sepp Straka over the inconsistent play of Charlie Hoffman. (I kind of like the outright number of Sepp Straka at 40/1 as well).
The pick: Sepp Straka -123
Corey Conners (-½) -139 vs Graeme McDowell
Corey Conners is one of my favorite golfers on tour. The young Canadien is a ball-striking machine and just can’t seem to piece it together with the putter. If you’ve been following along with the articles you know those are my types of guys. Conners is 1st in the field off-the-tee, 3rd in approach, and 1st tee-to-green. This should be a course he can destroy. He is matched up against last year’s champ, Graeme McDowell. Sportsbooks tend to put too big of an emphasis on past results on a course and not enough on recent play. I love siding with Conners for this head-to-head matchup in the first round. Lay the half stroke, as well as I, expect Conners to better McDowell by multiple shots at the end of round 1.
The pick: Conners (-½) -139
Mackenzie Hughes (-½) -133 vs Keith Mitchell
I suppose I am a fan of the Canadians in the first round this week because I also love Hughes in his given matchup. Other than last week’s challenging US Open, Hughes has finished 14th / 10th / 13th in his past three starts. And those were not some throw away events either; that stretch was the PGA Tour playoffs. His game has been a little all-around shaky but you can’t argue with results and Mackenzie Hughes knows how to fight his way through an event. He can roll the ball with the best of them proven by him being 1st in this week’s field in strokes gained: putting. He is also 1st in birdies or better which should fit perfectly at Corales. Keith Mitchell has finished 43rd or worse in 8 of his last 9 starts. Not much else to touch on there. I love Hughes this week and Mitchell seems to be way off with his game at the moment, Enough said. Lay the half stroke.
The pick: Mackenzie Hughes (-½) -133