For practical purposes, additional events on the PGA TOUR present playing time for the rank and file who don't qualify for the marquee events contested concurrently – four World Golf Championships and The Open Championship to be precise. The Puerto Rico Open specifically opens the third phase for Korn Ferry Tour graduates who were reordered at the conclusion of The Genesis Invitational. Those near the bottom of the category will struggle procuring tee times regularly for a couple of months.
Baked into all if it is the mainstream understanding of opportunity. In fact, that's the billing for all five of these tournaments. And turn back the clock no further than the last one when Brendon Todd emerged from career darkness to raise the trophy in the sunshine at the Bermuda Championship. He parlayed the form into victory in his next start at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. His early season's body of work then yielded a return to the country for this week's WGC-Mexico Championship. He's the story of 2019-20 thus far.
A field of 120 has gathered at Coco Beach Golf & Country Club for the 12th edition of the Puerto Rico Open. More on the course and what it takes to succeed on it can be found beneath the ranking of projected contenders.
POWER RANKINGS: PUERTO RICO OPEN
OTHERS TO CONSIDER
• Tom Lewis … In a sense, his season begins now. The Englishman opened 0-for-3, and then fulfilled his obligation on the European Tour where he's done very well, including a T3 in Dubai four weeks ago. This week's field in Puerto Rico is similarly as strong as the field that he took down to win the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.
• D.J. Trahan … He's shown enough signs of life to suggest that serendipity is in the salty air. Last year on Past Champion status, the renown ball-striker placed T16 without his A-game tee to green.
• Chris Couch … While he's a regular in opposite events via Past Champion status, he's enjoyed a fruitful year since a T66 in his debut at Coco Beach. All told, he's won nearly three dozen times on the Open Golf America Tour. Nothing like a PGA TOUR start to see how his game truly stacks up.
Before digging into the details, a subtext of the tournament is that PGA TOUR rookie Rafael Campos is not competing for the first time in its history. The native of Puerto Rico is sidelined indefinitely with soreness in his left elbow.
Campos' experience at Coco Beach will have to come in handy another time, but it's not a prerequisite for success. Three of the last five winners were first-timers in the tournament. (The event was canceled in 2018 due to the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria.) That is more of a by-product of the construct of the field that turns over considerably every year than it is the customary narrative attached to sites impacted by the wind.
Hard against the ocean on the northeastern shore of the island, there is no shelter from the elements. Martin Trainer prevailed by three strokes last year with an aggregate of 15-under 273, and he did so in steady breezes of 20 mph with gusts touching 25-30 mph.
Overall, the course surrendered a scoring average of 71.966, slotting it one-tenth of one stroke harder than Augusta National Golf Club where par also is 72 but also where 15-under 273 would've won eight of the last nine Masters.
The wind is forecast to challenge similarly in the opening round this week, but it might abate for the remainder. Hitting the sizeable targets will be the premium, but paying off the scoring opportunities will be just as valuable.
En route to his breakthrough title, Trainer ranked fourth in greens in regulation (75 percent) and second in putts per GIR. He also slotted third in putting: birdies-or-better, first in par breakers (23 birdies) and co-led the field in par-5 scoring.
Coco Beach remains unchanged as it preps for the conditions. The paspalum greens on the 7,506-yard test are governed to run no longer than 11 feet on the Stimpmeter.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
TUESDAY*: Power Rankings (Puerto Rico), Sleepers (WGC-Mexico), Fantasy Insider
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.