Corales Puntacana Championship Betting Tips: Two 100/1 shots for Dominican test
We have our second opposite-field event in the space of three weeks on the PGA Tour this week, as we head to the Dominican for the Corales Puntacana Championship. An event taking place opposite the WGC-Matchplay in Texas this week.
Originally taking place as a Korn Ferry Tour event in 2016 and 2017, the event was upgraded to the PGA Tour in 2018 and has taken place every year since.
Corales Puntacana Championship Tips
This Tom Fazio design is a huge 7670 par 72. Open and exposed with generous fairways that rank as the 4th easiest to hit on tour, and tricky, undulating putting surfaces that are much tougher to find, ranking above average for GIR.
There is a huge amount of sand around the course, in the shape of bunkers and waste areas, with water also in-play on around six holes.
As a course so generous off-the-tee, your instinct is to heavily favour bigger hitters, and whilst the last two winners, Joel Dahmen and Hudson Swafford in 2021 and 2020 respectively, certainly got it out there, the two previous winners, Graeme McDowell in 2019 and Brice Garnett in 2018 certainly did not. Showing any type of player can contend around here.
Success in Punta Cana has been very much engineered by a quality week on the greens. Garnett and McDowell both ranked 1st for putting average and putts per GIR. Whilst Dahmen ranked 2nd and 3rd in the respective categories and Swafford was 5th and 10th.
Aside from putting, solid green hitting has been important, with none of those four winners ranking worse than 26th in greens in regulation and with greens being tough to find at times, particularly if the wind gets up, it’s no surprise to see scrambling also bearing some importance. With three of those four winners ranking 21st or better in getting it up and down for the week.
The most obvious correlating course, as we described a couple of weeks ago is between this Corales course and Grand Reserve Golf Club, home of the Puerto Rico Open. Both in the Caribbean on the coast on long, exposed, open courses. Ranking very similarly in difficulty on tour right across the board, from driving accuracy to scrambling.
2017 Corales winner, Nate Lashley has twice played the Puerto Rico Open, recording finishes of 8th and 7th. Whilst 2018 winner, Brice Garnett hasn’t missed a cut in six visits to Puerto Rico, finishing 5th and 7th on the two most recent renewals.
Two time runner-up here in the Dominican, Sam Ryder finished 3rd in Puerto Rico in 2020. With plenty more form-ties amongst those runners-up here, as Robert Diaz has finished 10th there, Blake Adams 9th, with Chris Stroud possessing two top 10s and Rafael Campos has finished in the top 10 in Puerto Rico three times, including a 3rd place finish in 2021.
Andrew Putnam, Chase Seiffert, Chesson Hadley and Emiliano Grillo amongst a bunch of players adding further support to this correlation.
I’m also very keen on the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Though the three-course makeup at that event asks more demanding questions around the greens, they both rate of similar difficulty in ball-striking, ranking almost identical in driving accuracy, greens in regulation and penalty for missing fairways. Not to mention wind is very much a factor in both events.
Nate Lashley has a good record at Pebble, finishing 5th there last year, with finishes in the 20s either side of that. Though I’m not keen to draw on Graeme McDowell’s US Open win at Pebble, such is the difference in setup, he also possesses a good record in the Pro-Am. With four top 20s in six appearances, two of them top 10s. Last year’s Corales winner, Joel Dahmen strengthens the link further, having never missed a cut in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, producing his best finish there to date this year, when finishing 6th.
Chris Stroud has two top 10s at Pebble, whilst 2020 Corales runner-up, Mackenzie Hughes has finishes of 10th and 16th. With Keith Mitchell and Roberto Diaz both possessing top 20s.
Andrew Putnam and Chesson Hadley once again backing up the correlation. With Sean O’Hair and Trey Mullinax adding to it.
A few other courses I like are the Golf Club of Houston, host of the Houston Open before 2020. Both courses asking similar questions and playing to a comparable difficulty from tee-to-green, with wind play also a factor in Houston.
Garnett, Ryder, Mitchell and Campos all have top 10s there, as does 2020 Corales champion, Hudson Swafford. Sean O’Hair, Jhonny Vegas and Chesson Hadley adding extra form-lines.
The John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run is another event where fairways are easy to find and plays to a similar difficulty level tee-to-green as Corales, for all it’s a little easier to find greens there.
Last year’s Corales winner, Joel Dahmen has finished 2nd there, as has Sam Ryder. With Chris Stroud picking up two top 5s and Keith Mitchell possessing a 7th place finish there.
Vegas, Mullinax and O’hair appear again here. With other players like Adam Svensson and Kevin Tway adding further substance to the correlation.
In addition to these it’s worth looking at form at other coastal venues, particularly when looking at some of these players who’ve plied their trade on the Korn Ferry Tour over recent years. Form in Central or South America should be a positive, though I particularly like looking at the Bahamas Exuma and Bahamas Abaco Classics. Just like this week, both events take place on a windy island nation in the Caribbean and are typically a good guide to players who can play windy conditions when they step up to the main tour.
The forecast is predicting a moderate breeze throughout the four days, with the chance for some rain on Wednesday/Thursday but dry from there on in. Meaning we should get some nice golfing conditions. Though as is often the case with this part of the world, things can change quickly and it wouldn’t surprise me if the wind, gusts at least, are a little stronger than the forecast suggests.
After the withdrawal of Maverick McNealy, young Dane, Nicolai Hojgaard is now the top ranked player in the field at #77. He’s joined by twin brother, Rasmus, as well as two others from inside the world’s top 100, Jhonny Vegas and Hudson Swafford.
The strong European Contingent is added to by Aaron Rai, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Victor Perez and Thomas Detry. All amongst the top ranked players in the field.
There’s little that appeals to me at the top end of the market on prices. I do like Adam Svensson’s chances as someone who has won in the Bahamas but 33/1 doesn’t quite do it for me. Instead I’m going to start a little further down at 50/1, with David Lipsky, whose strong start to the season is going a little under the radar.
In eight starts this year, Lipsky has missed just two cuts, finishing 26th or better on three occasions. His best effort was a 14th place finish in the American Express. Though I’m equally as encouraged by his 24th at Pebble Beach, a correlating event and 26th in the star-studded Arnold Palmer Invitational in difficult conditions speaks of the place his game is in right now.
All parts of his game appear to be in a good place, with him looking particularly good around-the-greens and in approach so far this year. He’s also driving it well enough, where accuracy is very much his bag. Lipsky is a streaky putter, which is no bad thing on a week like this, providing he’s on one of his going weeks.
He’s played here once before, in 2019 and put up a really encouraging 22nd place finish, firing an excellent 66 in round three. I’m also delighted with how well he putted these tricky greens that week, as he ranked 4th with the putter.
Lipsky has been a winner everywhere he’s been. From the Asian Tour, to the DP World Tour and on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020. The signs have been there that he can continue that winning habit on the big one and this type of low level event provides an ideal chance for him to do so.
I originally had Chase Seiffert down a few weeks ago in Puerto Rico, before an ever reducing price scuppered my intentions. He started well there, leading after round one, though fell backwards as the week progressed. Despite that I was surprised to see him back out at this kind of price on another course he’s shown potential, and I think he looks good value this week.
His year has been a little short on golf so far and he started it with three missed cuts. He responded positively to that, going well in the Honda Classic, finishing 25th and then followed it with that encouraging, although eventually disappointing 41st place finish in Puerto Rico.
Seiffert’s asset is very much with the long game, his irons to be exact. Though he has shown plenty of form with the short-game so far this season, in the Honda Classic and even in his missed cut at the Sony Open. Ranking 15th in scrambling so far this season.
He’s played here twice before, making the cut both times. Following a debut effort of 41st with an 18th place finish last year. Further to that he has a good record in Puerto Rico and his career best performances are littered with form in coastal events. The standout of them a 3rd place finish in a windy Honda Classic last year.
He’s still winless as a professional but is lightly raced for a 30 year-old, with just over 100 career starts. If he can marry his typically excellent ball-striking with the quality he’s shown with the short-game over recent months, Seiffert can once again improve on his previous performance in the Dominican.
Barring an excellent 9th place finish in the Honda Classic, John Huh’s year so far has been underwhelming results wise. Though despite the missed cuts there has been plenty of good golf and I think he can take advantage of this weaker field to win his second PGA Tour title, almost 10 years after his first.
Other than that 9th place finish in Florida, Huh has missed three cuts and finished 66th last week at the Valspar. Despite this, almost every part of his game has shown life this year. No doubt the putter has been the biggest positive, which should bode well this week but he’s produced solid displays in approach and around-the-greens, with the driver looking the least inspiring part of his game currently.
Huh hasn’t played here before but has some decent correlating form courtesy of a 7th place finish in the John Deere and two top 20s in the Houston Open (pre-2020). In addition to this, we can also draw confidence from that solo PGA Tour victory to date. When he won the Mayakoba Classic in 2012, on similar paspalum greens that the players will encounter this week.
Huh’s results haven’t quite reflected the solid golf he’s playing this year. In this weaker field I expect him to go well this week if able to transfer the strong putting performances of late, to these tricky paspalum surfaces.
After a poor start to the year that saw big hitting Brandon Hagy miss his first 7 cuts on the bounce, he wasn’t really on my radar for this week. That was until he came to life in the Valspar Championship last week.
He finished 21st there, finding something on the greens that had eluded him for most of the season. Though also produced his most consistent tee-to-green performance of the year, putting up positive, albeit small, strokes gained numbers in every area.
In truth Hagy’s tee-to-green performances haven’t been that bad this season. He started off hitting his irons reasonably well, while he started to look good around-the-greens in starts previous to his visit to Innisbrook last week. With the driver, a big weapon of his on a good week, showing enough signs of life.
He’s played here three times before and missed the cut every time. Having said I do think it is a place he can go well at. With the generosity off-the-tee it should suit this bomber. I suspect it’s often been about those other areas of his game not quite being up to scratch but we only have to catch him on a good week in those areas, much like last week and he suddenly looks an obvious type.
He bettered Seiffert’s 3rd in the tricky Honda Classic of last year, finishing 2nd and has a generally good record at that windy, coastal venue. In addition he’s also in possession of top 20s in both the Puerto Rico Open and John Deere Classic.
Hagy often goes through these poor runs of form but has also shown an ability to keep it rolling for a few weeks once he finds it. I very much hope that is the case this week, a week after such a promising performance at the Valspar.
It’s been a long time since the once highly rated Sean O’Hair picked up his fourth PGA Tour title, 11 years to be exact. Coming through a tough couple of years in which he’s suffered multiple injury setbacks, he’s made some positive noises recently and can take another step in the right direction this week.
He started his year struggling in the Bahamas on the Korn Ferry Tour but came to life four starts ago at Pebble Beach, picking up a 16th place finish. He followed that with a further encouraging performance, finishing 6th in the LECOM Suncoast Classic back on the Korn Ferry Tour. Before two missed cuts on his next two starts, in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Valspar Championship.
Having said that, his game looked in decent shape last week at Copperhead, as he gained strokes in every area besides approach and fired a strong 67 in round two, to unfortunately miss the cut by just the one shot.
His short-game has been the standout this year and that’s actually the case if we go back to last year too, which often proves decisive here. He ranks 50th in putting and 69th in scrambling on tour this season.
O’Hair made his one and only appearance here last year, with an promising 14th place finish. Opening with two rounds of 67 to be right in contention at the halfway point, before fading over the weekend.
In addition to this he’s a past winner of the John Deere Classic, although you have to go all the way back to 2005 to find that. However he did perform well there last year too, finishing 11th, showing that setup still favours his game. Further to this are multiple top 20s at Pebble Beach and he’s also recorded a top 10 in Houston.
It’s been a long time since O’Hair won but the signs are there that he may not quite be finished. With his game looking in good shape he can improve on that 14th place finish here last year and re-enter the PGA Tour winner’s circle for the first time in over 10 years.