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This is the second PGA Tour event this week, alongside the WGC Match Play
Corales Golf Club, a lengthy par 72, plays host once more
Chad Ramey is one five past winners taking part
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While the world’s top players fight it out for glory at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, we have a second PGA TOUR offering this week.
This is one of the schedule’s ‘additional events’ and takes us away from the US mainland to the Dominican Republic.
The tournament started life as a Web.com event but gained full PGA TOUR status in 2018 when Brice Garnet shot 18-under to win by four.
Graeme McDowell became the first, and so far only, overseas winner in 2019, again firing 18-under 270.
Since then, Hudson Swafford (2020), Joel Dahmen (2021), and Chad Ramey (2022) have kept the trophy in American hands.
Four of the five winners shot either 17- or 18-under. The exception was Dahmen, who fought windy conditions to triumph with 12-under.
Corales Golf Course at the Puntacana Resort and Club was designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 2010.
It’s a lengthy par 72 measuring 7,670 yards but has generous fairways.
Six holes are played along the ocean which makes it open to strong winds. The forecast suggests it could gust at 20mph all four days.
The final three holes are known as The Devil’s Elbow.
The greens are Paspalum, a strain shared by courses used for the Worldwide Technology Championship in Mexico and the Puerto Rico Open.
Wyndham Clark is the clear favorite this week but despite his credentials - top five at the Valspar last week and 22nd here on his course debut last year - is anyone out there really going to take +800 on a player still looking for a first PGA Tour win?
Those are Jon Rahm/Scottie Scheffler/Rory McIlroy type of odds and, although this is a weak field, backing Clark at a single-figure price makes no sense.
Second favorite Thomas Detry has a pair of top 15s here on his last two visits but, again, odds of +1800 on a non-winner look hard to stomach.
The Belgian has talent but he hasn’t even won on the DP World Tour, never mind the PGA TOUR.
Joel Dahmen - one of the unlikely stars of the Netflix ‘Full Swing’ series - won this event in 2021 despite being in no form at all.
He was, however, a course horse after making the top 15 in all three previous starts in the event.
Canada’s Taylor Pendrith is another non-winner although he did play his way onto the Internationals’ Presidents Cup team last year.
Pendrith was seventh at Pebble Beach but hasn’t made the top 40 in his last four events.
Strokes Gained numbers aren’t recorded at this event but looking at traditional stats highlights the importance of putting.
On the season-long Putting Average stats, the highest-ranked player in the field this week is Harry Higgs at 9th.
That immediately puts him in the crosshairs but Higgs starts to flash brighter when noting that he tied seventh in Puerto Rico just two starts ago.
He putted well there (18th for PA) and, as noted, Puerto Rico is another coastal event played on Paspalum putting surfaces.
That brings us to Higgs’ finest hour as a golfer: his fourth place in the 2021 PGA Championship.
That event was played at Kiawah Island, another seaside course with Paspalum greens. The clues are starting to mount up.
Higgs also has a top 20 at The American Express and tied 21st at the RSM Classic in his last eight starts and, in a field like this, he’s capable of getting into the mix.
It’s his first time at Corales Golf Club but past form suggests it should suit and odds of +6600 with bet365 give him plenty of appeal.
For this week’s 72-hole match bet I’ll take Adam Long to beat Andrew Novak.
Long’s thunderclap moment on the PGA TOUR came when holding off Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin to land the 2019 Desert Classic at La Jolla.
But he’s also been a proven performer in this event and on similar tracks.
Long closed with three 67s to post eighth place on his second start here in 2017 and improved that to fifth in 2020 after middle rounds of 65-64.
Let’s hope that the three-year cycle continues this week.
Long also has a second (2019) and a third (2020) at the World Wide Technology Championship at El Camaleon so that’s quite a bank of form on Paspalum courses.
A top 20 at the Valspar Championship last week suggests he should be in the mix here again.
Novak has decent course form (11th last year) and current form (27th at the Valspar) but it’s just a grade down on his rival’s.
Long holds the aces, so back the Jupiter resident to win their 72-hole match at -120 with DraftKings Sportsbook.
Scott Harrington has been sniffing around the top 20 mark in recent weeks, finishing 26th in the Honda Classic and 29th in Puerto Rico.
He has course form too: a 4-for-4 slate, including 14th in 2020 and 25th and 28th when it was played as a Korn Ferry event.
In short, if he repeats current form and past course form, it’s only going to take a shot or two here and there for Harrington to get in the money.
Back Harrington to claim a Top 20 at +400 with DraftKings Sportsbook.
Tournament: Corales Puntacana Championship
Location: Corales Golf Club, Puntacana Resort & Club, Dominican Republic
Date: THURSDAY MAR. 23 - SUNDAY MAR. 26
How to watch: THURSDAY-FRIDAY 10.30 a.m.-1.30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). SATURDAY-SUNDAY 2 p.m.-5 p.m. (NBC). And all four days on Sky Sports.
Matt Cooper has been a sports journalist since 2009 with his work appearing at ESPN, Sky Sports, NBC, Sporting Life and the Planet Sport Network among many others, in addition to guest appearances on the BBC and CNN. Although a specialist in golf, who has traveled the world to cover the sport, Matt has also covered rugby, cricket, football and the Olympics. Email: [email protected]More info on Matt Cooper
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