It’s back to the Caribbean for the PGA Tour which travels to the Dominican Republic for this week’s Corales Puntacana Championship.
First staged in 2016, when part of the Web.com schedule, the tournament was upgraded to PGA Tour status two years later.
In 2020, the event was staged six months later than planned, after being moved from March to September as a result of re-scheduling due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Corales Puntacana Resort sits at the eastern edge of this stunning Caribbean island.
A low-lying coastal venue, Corales will certainly be at the mercy of the elements, with wind likely to be a major factor over all four days.
The Tom Fazio-designed course opened in 2010 and there are six holes on which the dramatic Dominican Republic coastline comes into play.
Some tee and approach shots are more treacherous than others and, depending on weather conditions, half of the holes may be affected by the threat of water – although seven is probably a more realistic number.
The undulating fairways are not hemmed in by trees or dense vegetation, and should allow some of the longer hitters to launch into their drives with comfort. However, the course certainly won’t be a walkover if the breeze picks up.
Latest betting for this week’s Corales Puntacana Championship
Generally, the stats show that hitting fairways off the tee at Corales is not so much of a problem as it is at many of the other courses on the rota.
Regarding the PGA Tour (2016-20) as a whole, Driving Accuracy averages out between 61-62%. Yet, at Corales, the average for the tournaments staged in 2018-19-20 is 72.74% (for those completing at least 54 holes).
As for Greens in Regulation, Corales is 67.45%, which compares closely to the overall PGA Tour average of between 67-68%.
Putting surfaces are large and undulating, and require a sound touch, but if the breeze drops scoring tends to be on the low side.
On the tee
The highest-ranked pros taking part narrowly missed out on qualifying for this week’s match play event in Texas.
Aussie Lucas Herbert, the world No 72, is one of four players inside the top-80 teeing-up in Thursday’s opening round.
Herbert, Danny Willett (75) and Thomas Pieters (76) – the ‘top three seeds’ – are all making their Corales debuts.
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Those with decent course histories here include Joel Dahmen, Nate Lashley, Xin Jun Zhang and Kelly Kraft.
Dahmen has missed six out of seven cuts in 2021, although Lashley may fancy his chances following a top-five finish on the California coast at Pebble Beach.
Zhang’s current form has been patchy, while world No 537 Kraft hasn’t had a top-10 since July 2019.
Strong current form
Maybe a better bet would be Charley Hoffman who is slowly finding his feet again.
Not too far outside the world’s top 100 at present, the 44-year-old from San Diego has posted four top-20 finishes on Tour this calendar year, including a tie-for-17th last time out at Sawgrass. The four-time PGA Tour winner most recently tasted glory in 2016.
Big-hitting Luke List may be worth a look as he chases a first-ever Tour title.
His highest finish so far during 2021 was a tie-for-10th at Torrey Pines, another course where the long drivers are encouraged to smash if off the tee.
Finally, Chase Seiffert is starting to produce some consistent golf. The 29-year-old graduated from the Korn Ferry Tour and is currently in his second season on the PGA Tour.
On Sunday he registered his highest finish in the top-tier, closing with a 64 to stand on a very congested podium.
Note – Course Form Table: PGA Tour (2018-20); Web.com Tour (2016-17).
Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive
MC* – Missed Additional 54-Hole Cut
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves