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Favorites, Longshots, Fantasy Plays and Our Pick to Win at Corales Puntacana

By: Kyle Cunningham-Rhoads

After a difficult major, the field for the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship isn’t very strong. But valuable FedEx Cup points are at stake, and the swing season is when golfers like Sebastian Munoz and Carlos Ortiz punched tickets to the Tour Championship last season.

The tournament is hosted in the Dominican Republic, right on the ocean, and it’s almost a guarantee that conditions will be windy. It’s a par 72 course playing around 7,700 yards, and while we would normally think of long hitters with courses like this, the course layout begs for excellent iron play and putting.

The metrics that best correlate with success at courses like Corales Puntacana are:

Par 5 Performance

Greens in Regulation (GIR)

Long Par 3 Performance

Strokes Gained: Approach (SG:APP)

Strokes Gained: Putting (SG:PUT)

We’re looking for players who can hit the greens, especially those who can put it within 12 feet and then knock down those putts from 6-12 feet. Long par 3 performance is also important as there are no short par 3s, and one of the long par 3s plays 265 yards.

Corales Puntacana Resort & Club

Overall, it’s a course where the winning score should be in the upper teens, as there are a number of scoring holes without the really difficult ones we saw last week.

PICK TO WIN

SAM BURNS

We featured Burns in our Safeway Open article and he came up short after heading into Sunday with the lead. We like him again this weekend. That’s because his excellent iron play (71.5% GIR) and above-average putting fit the course mold, and he has the added benefit of averaging 317 yards off the tee. He’s in excellent form and has the tools to win the tournament. Our model gives him the highest chance this weekend at 6.7%.

OTHER FAVORITES WHO COULD TRIUMPH

SEPP STRAKA

While not the best player in the field with his irons, the Austrian is among the best at par 5 performance. Straka gains 0.133 strokes over the field on par 5s, which is where most of the scoring opportunities come from this weekend. He’s excellent with the putter (0.597 SG:PUT per round), inaccurate but long off the tee, and prefers long par 3s to short ones. Additionally, he plays much better when a course plays easy than it when it plays difficult. He gains 0.057 strokes on easy holes and loses 0.023 strokes on difficult holes.

WILL GORDON

Gordon is incredible off the tee, where he averages 319 yards per drive and hits 63% of fairways en route to gaining 0.727 Shots Gained: Off the Tee (SG:OTT) per round. His putter is average at best, and while his irons are iffy, his distance does allow him to hit a lot of greens. Like Straka, his best holes are par 5s and long par 3s. While he plays better when the course is more difficult, we think he has the tools to compete on Sunday. We give Gordon more than a 15% chance to crack the top five this week on a course he should play well on.

KYLE STANLEY

Stanley is not a good putter, which bucks what we’re looking for this week. But he is an incredibly accurate driver of the golf ball, and he hits a ton of greens. This course really begs for players who can get on the green in two, and Stanley is one of the best there. He probably isn’t a guy who will shoot 8-under par in any round, but he’ll avoid bogeys and take his birdies when they’re available. He could see four consecutive scores around 68. If he rolls a few putts in, that goal of 18- or 19-under is achievable.

LONGSHOTS WHO COULD SURPRISE

CHRIS BAKER

One of the best with his irons, Baker makes his money putting the ball in the fairway and getting on in two. It’s good that he does because if he misses a green you’re probably penciling in a bogey. Baker gains almost a full stroke each round in SG:APP, and he’ll have to rely on that skill to stay out of trouble this week. All-in-all, we like how his skillset suits this course, and our model gives him a 37.4% chance of finishing in the top 20.

RYAN ARMOUR

Armour is an astoundingly average golfer on tour, but his two best skills are irons and putting — exactly what we’re looking for this week. He’s also the best in the field on long par 3s, gaining 0.153 strokes per hole. Like Baker, he has the ability to avoid bogeys and string together some solid rounds in the high 60s.

FAVORITE DRAFTKINGS GPP PLAYS

Sam Burns ($10,100)

Denny McCarthy ($9,600)

Thomas Detry ($9,400)

Sepp Straka ($9,300)

Henrik Norlander ($8,600)

Jhonattan Vegas ($7,700)

Will Gordon ($7,600)

Chris Kirk ($7,400)

Ryan Armour ($7,100)

Michael Gligic ($6,500)

FAVORITE DRAFTKINGS CASH FADES

Charles Howell III ($9,700)

Henrik Stenson ($9,500)

Branden Grace ($9,000)

Matthias Schwab ($8,800)

Graeme McDowell ($7,800)

 

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