The First Look: Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship
September 20, 2020
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
Graeme McDowell's Round 4 highlights from Corales Puntacana
For the first time, the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship will offer full FedExCup points to the winner. The TOUR’s stop in the Dominican Republic has continued to move up in stature since it debuted on the Korn Ferry Tour schedule in 2016.
Graeme McDowell is back to defend his title from 2019 – his first TOUR victory in nearly five years.
FIELD NOTES: Will Zalatoris, who is tops on the Korn Ferry Tour’s Points List and made the cut in the U.S. Open, is in the field on a sponsor exemption. Zalatoris is hitting a KFT-leading 81% of his greens this season. He has 11 straight top-20s on that circuit, the longest streak in KFT history… Past FedExCup champion Henrik Stenson makes his debut in the Dominican … Graeme McDowell looks to become the first golfer to defend his title at Corales ... The three other past champions – Brice Garnett, Nate Lashley and Dominic Bozzelli (the latter two were winners when the event was on the Korn Ferry Tour) will look to reclaim some Caribbean magic … 18-year-old Akshay Bhatia will tee it up at Corales after his top-10 at the Safeway Open. He was the youngest player to finish in the top 10 of a stroke-play event on the PGA TOUR since Justin Rose at the 1998 Open Championship … Rafa Campos – from nearby Puerto Rico – will be in the field. He teed it up at the Safeway Open for his first TOUR start since January because of injury … Corales club pro Julio Santos will lead a nice contingent of Dominican golfers in the field.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 FedExCup points.
COURSE: Puntacana Resort & Club (Corales Golf Course), par 72, 7,666 yards (yardage subject to change). The Tom Fazio design from 2008 is a beautiful beast, culminating in the final three-hole stretch dubbed “The Devil’s Elbow” with a dramatic forced carry over the Bay of Corales on 18. The front nine also wraps up along the coastline. While fairly open off the tee, when the wind blows it’s difficult to nail down yardages into the difficult green complexes.
STORYLINES: The event started as a Korn Ferry Tour event before becoming an opposite-field event in 2018. Now it offers full FedExCup points to the winner … The Corales course is one of the longest the TOUR plays every season … The event was originally scheduled for March 23-29 but was moved due to COVID-19 … Mackenzie Hughes, who finished 14th on the FedExCup standings last season, will look to improve on his T2 from a year ago at Corales. He’s the highest-ranked finisher from the 2019-20 FedExCup in the field.
72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Dominic Bozzelli (2016 Korn Ferry Tour). As PGA TOUR event: 270, Brice Garnett (2018), Graeme McDowell (2019).
18-HOLE RECORD: 62, Stephan Jaeger (2nd round, 2016 Korn Ferry Tour), Scott Harrington (2nd round, 2016 Korn Ferry Tour), Alexandre Rocha (3rd round, 2016 Korn Ferry Tour). As PGA TOUR event: 63, Brice Garnett (1st round, 2018), Chip McDaniel (4th round, 2019).
LAST TIME: After struggling to an opening-round 73 Graeme McDowell’s putter heated up through the weekend (he took only 20 putts on Saturday) and he captured his first PGA TOUR win since 2015. McDowell topped Mackenzie Hughes and Chris Stroud by one shot after a final-round 69 that included a key birdie on the penultimate hole. His birdie on the par-3 17th to Stroud’s bogey was the late-round swing McDowell needed. Jonathan Byrd finished fourth, while Kelly Kraft and Monday qualifier Chip McDaniel rounded out the top five.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Television: Thursday-Friday, 3 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC)
Radio: Thursday-Friday, 12 p.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com/liveaudio).