A two-tournament week brings us to the Dominican Republic for the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.
This week really spotlights the impact that DFS has on the sport.
Just a few years ago, this would have been a forgotten tournament with most of the TOUR’s top talent competing in the WGC-Match Play. Now, with DFS there are hundreds of thousands of dollars up for grabs.
Let’s dive through the weather and look at an interesting course-fit angle to see who might enjoy their time in Punta Cana.
Thursday (R1): Mostly sunny with a high of 82 degrees. Winds at 10-to-14 MPH. Precip % less than 10.
Friday (R2): Sunny with a high of 82 degrees. Winds at 3-to-10 MPH. Precip % less than 10.
Thursday brings moderate winds. Surprisingly, this is the only day forecasted for anything relevant in terms of breeze. It’s not a huge deal but there might be a slight advantage to having a Friday AM tee time.
Being played right on the coast, I expect much more wind in the forecast but that’s just not in the cards this year.
The Corales Golf Club is a resort course that caters to all skill levels. To make is playable for all skill levels, Tom Fazio made sure the landing areas were generous.
Last year, the field averaged just over 73 percent of fairways hit which was the second-easiest of courses played last season. That was even with a few days of heavy winds. With lighter winds in the forecast, we could see the field eclipse 75 percent of fairways hit which means a lot of clean and crisp approach shot.
Looking at sample-adjusted performance on courses with easy-to-hit fairways since the start of 2014, the top 15 performers on a per-round basis looks like this:
Other than raw performance, we can also look at who shows the biggest improvement on Easy-to-Hit Fairways (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:
Overlap List: Looking for golfers that crack both lists we find Peter Uihlein, Chris Stroud, and Chad Campbell.
They all arrive without any form in their favor but Uihlein does present himself as an interesting high-upside sleeper.
Hank Lebioda: The young Florida State product is familiar with playing golf south of the border. He finished 6th on the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica circuit in 2017. He used that knowledge to open the 2018 Web season with back-to-back top 10s in The Bahamas. Looking more recently, the four best finishes of his rookie season have come on coastal tracks (RSM Classic, Sony Open, Farmers, and Pebble Beach). The lefty isn’t the longest off the tee but in a Web.com Tour Q&A he mentioned driver as the club he likes to hit most. He’ll get to use that club early and often this week on a wide-open Fazio design. As for fantasy scoring, he’s posted more birdies per round than the field in eight of his last nine starts. Not too shabby for a bargain-bin option.
FanPicks Top Selections:
Joel Dahmen : Has beat the field average in 7 of his last 8 rounds played. He’s rounding back into form and has finished top 25 in both trips to Corales. Snapped out of a slump at THE PLAYERS and backed it up with a top 30 at the Valspar.
Nate Lashley : Won at the Corales Golf Course in 2017. Returned to finish T28 last year. Enters with four top 20s over his last eight starts. Playing the final start of his medical extension. He won’t want to waste the opportunity.
Denny McCarthy : Posted a top 10 last week at the Valspar and finished top 5 here last year.
Adam Schenk : The Purdue product is 3-for-3 at the Corales with strokes gained over the field in 10-of-12 rounds played here. Three top 30s in his last four starts.
Sungjae Im : His salary popped up nearly $4k overnight but I want to ride this train into the winner’s station. We knew the young Korean had a world of upside when he dominated the Web last year but we didn’t know if his rise would happen so fast. Playing against a glorified Web field this week, Im should be comfortable and the odds board reflects that as he’s co-favorite alongside Jhonny Vegas.
Jonathan Byrd : Should be low owned this week since there are plenty of juicy value options below him. Picking a slightly-overpriced Byrd should help keep the lineup unique. We don’t want a duplicate lineup. Byrd has seen this course twice and is 2-for-2 with a T30 and T54.