What does this week’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship have in common with the U.S. Open and the Masters? There are two editions of each during the 2020-21 PGA TOUR season.
Like both previously scheduled editions of the majors, the 2020 Corales was bumped to the fall portion of this season due to the pandemic. As a result, it’s a stand-alone tournament with 144 golfers chasing 500 FedExCup points for the victory. (The 2021 edition will return to its familiar status as an additional event in early spring.)
Scroll past the projected contenders for consideration of the shift to early autumn, relevant tidbits of how the first two champions performed and details of the golf course.
POWER RANKINGS: CORALES PUNTACANA RESORT & CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP
Henrik Stenson, Will Gordon, Patrick Rodgers and 2018 champion Brice Garnett will be among the notables reviewed in Tuesday’s Fantasy Insider.
Corales sits on the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic. Because of its exposure to wind, fairways and greens are expansive across the stock par 72 that stretches 7,666 yards. Although this is hurricane season and exactly on the opposite end of the calendar, the weather will resemble when the first two editions of the tournament were contested in late March. Prevailing winds from a generally easterly direction will be steady but not punishing. Passing showers can’t be ruled out but sunshine will dominate and contribute to daytime highs in the upper 80s.
Because the test tee to green is relatively benign, it’s probable that a putting contest will determine that champion for the third time in as many editions. Brice Garnett paced his field in putts per GIR en route to the inaugural title, as did the 2019 champ, Graeme McDowell. Both also led their respective fields in putting: birdies-or-better. (ShotLink is not utilized for this tournament, Strokes Gained data is not collected.)
G-Mac’s path to the victory also showcased how wild it can get at Corales. His opening 73 was the highest first round by any winner in all of 2018-19, and he still won outright (by one) at 18-under 270.
The secondary objective is the first in execution; that is, to pile up scoring opportunities to set up the par breakers. The Supreme paspalum greens max at 11-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter, but undulations everywhere serve as defense. This elevates the ability to hit it close. Of course, more broadly, hitting greens in regulation will ease the pressure off average putters.
After debuting with a scoring average of 71.499 in 2018, the 2019 field improved to the tune of 71.074. A considerable chunk of the reason why is found at The Devil’s Elbow consisting of the par-4 16th, the par-3 17th and the par-4 18th holes. The first field averaged 0.368 strokes over par for the week, but with some experience logged, the scoring average improved to just 0.103 strokes over par the last time. Garnett played the trio in even par; McDowell scored 1-over.
In addition to the full allocation of FedExCup points up for grabs, the winner will earn an exemption into the 2021 Masters.
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*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Wednesday.