The PGA Tour welcomes a new venue to its calendar this week, when Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina stages the Palmetto Championship.
Congaree stepped into the breach after the Canadian Open was cancelled for a second straight year, because of travelling restrictions caused the on-going pandemic.
Canada’s national open was due to be held in Ontario but the players will now be teeing-up 970 miles away in South Carolina.
Designed by Tom Fazio and opened three years ago, Congaree was named the Best New Private Course of 2018 by American magazine Golf Digest.
A year later it was presented with an even bigger award – Best Golf Course Built in the Decade, 2010-19.
Congaree applied to host the 2026 Presidents Cup match but its pitch failed to earn enough votes and the four-day contest was awarded to TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
Congaree is a totally rural location, some 110 miles inland from Charleston, which is South Carolina’s largest city.
Latest odds for this week’s Palmetto Championship
Fazio’s Championship layout is carved out of a huge forest on low-lying wetlands, with water coming into play on two-thirds of its holes.
This well-bunkered course with tree-lined fairways is expected to play firm and fast during tournament week.
Sandy waste areas border many of the holes, while the putting surfaces are – not unsurprisingly for a course in the Deep South – laid with Bermuda grass.
With the US Open taking place in San Diego next week, the Palmetto field is not heavily-laden with top-20 ranked golfers, which is only to be expected.
However, it does include world No 1 Dustin Johnson, along with the current ‘King of the Majors’ Brooks Koepka.
Johnson hasn’t posted a top-10 since February, and has missed the cut in each of this year’s two major championships.
Latest odds for next week’s US Open in California
The 36-year-old is desperately seeking to recover some lost form, while world No 8 Koepka has only recently returned from knee surgery and has completed just eight competitive rounds since March 1st.
However, it didn’t prevent him from finishing tied-second at the PGA Championship in South Carolina three weeks ago.
Three of England’s top-five ranked pros are in attendance – Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood – as they contest their final ‘warm-up’ event ahead of the US Open at Torrey Pines.
Yet it may be another Englishman, Ian Poulter, who could emerge as a stronger contender at Congaree.
The 45-year-old has performed solidly over the past couple of months and, on a course no one has ever tested under ‘exam conditions’, Poulter’s scrambling skills could prove vital.
Perhaps not as the eventual champion, but certainly from an each-way perspective, with Poulter teeing-up full of confidence having stood on the podium at the Colonial event two weeks ago.
Two other solid e/w contenders are experienced American pros Charley Hoffman and Brandt Snedeker who have both performed with quiet distinction since early April.
Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves