The First Look: Puerto Rico Open
February 15, 2019
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- February 15, 2019
D.A. Points rallies late to claim win at Puerto Rico
Back after a one-year hiatus as Puerto Rico cleaned up following Hurricane Maria, the island welcomes incoming Hall of Famer Retief Goosen and six other former major winners to begin its second decade on the PGA TOUR schedule.
Daniel Berger, Graeme McDowell, Trevor Immelman and defending champion D.A. Points also highlight the lineup, comprised of players outside the world rankings’ top 50 and not eligible for the WGC Mexico Championship.
FIELD NOTES: John Daly, Angel Cabrera, David Duval and Mike Weir round out the roster of former major winners in the field. … Robert Allenby, a four-time TOUR winner, is set for his first PGA TOUR start since last year in Reno. The 47-year-old Aussie earned a share of 16th at last year’s Australian PGA. … Goosen and Daly are part of a sizable list from the 50-and-older set that includes Jay Don Blake (60) and Olin Browne (59). … Rafael Campos, who won the Web.com Tour’s Great Abaco Classic last month, is among four Puerto Rico golfers in the field. He’s joined by Edward Figureroa, Max Alverio and Jeronimo Esteve. … Former Oklahoma State teammates Nick Heinen and Kristoffer Ventura will tee it up on sponsor invitations. So will current collegian Bryson Nimmer (Clemson), who notched two wins in the fall and was runner-up in a third.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 300 points.
STORYLINES: Puerto Rico steps back onto golf’s sporting stage, showing off its recovery efforts after taking a direct hit from Hurricane Maria in September 2017. Maria destroyed Puerto Rico’s power grid, while demolishing trees and homes across the island. … Points was among 19 PGA TOUR and LPGA players who teed up last year in a charity pro-am held in place of the Open. The event also attracted baseball’s Carlos Beltran and Pudge Rodriguez, raising more than $500,000 for relief efforts. … Goosen steps back into the big circuit after two starts on the PGA TOUR Champions. He was 24th at the Oasis Championship in his Champions debut. … Six of the first 10 Puerto Rico Open champions made it their first TOUR win, including four in a row before Points prevailed last time out. … Points, Scott Brown and George McNeill have a chance to join Michael Bradley (2009, ’11) as the event’s only two-time winner. … Just three defending champs have managed top-20 finishes. … In the event’s first 10 years, no one has prevailed by more than two strokes. Three editions have gone to playoffs, most recently Tony Finau’s win in 2016.
COURSE: Coco Beach Golf & CC (Championship), 7,506 yards, par 72. Reopened last fall after close to a year of recovery time, the Tom Kite design sits at the foothills of the El Yunque Rainforest and winds its way to the ocean. What began as four separate nine-hole routings were reconfigured in 2007 into two 18-hole layouts, both featuring generous greens, numerous bunkers and a handful of man-made water hazards. The PGA TOUR added Puerto Rico to its schedule a year later, played on a hybrid Championship course that incorporates the best from both layouts.
72-HOLE RECORD: 267, Chesson Hadley (2014).
18-HOLE RECORD: 63, Derek Lamely (3rd round, 2010), James Driscoll (1st round, 2011), Chris Tidland (2nd round, 2011), Scott Brown (2nd round, 2013), James Driscoll (2nd round, 2014), Trey Mullinax (1st round, 2017), J.J. Henry (4th round, 2017).
TWO YEARS AGO: Points birdied his first five holes and four of his last six in a roller-coaster final round, outpacing Goosen’s hard-charging 64 for his third PGA TOUR title. Points appeared in control with his torrid start, until a trio of bogeys around the turn dropped him behind Goosen’s clubhouse lead. However, the Illinois native rallied with birdies at Nos. 13 and 14, adding two more in the final hour for a 66 that left him two strokes clear of Goosen, Bryson DeChambeau (67) and Bill Lunde (68). It was Points’ first victory since the 2013 Houston Open, coming a few months after stepping down to the Web.com Tour Finals to retain his PGA TOUR card.
HOW TO FOLLOW
TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 2:30-5 p.m. (GC). Sunday, 1:30-4:30 p.m. (GC).