Do you know the name Will Zalatoris?
Don’t be ashamed if you don’t. He’s the favorite at BetMGM Sportsbook for this week’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship down in the Dominican Republic. If you did know Zalatoris, you would know that he is the 24-year-old points leader in the Korn Ferry Tour. His last PGA Tour event prior to last weekend’s US Open was the AT&T Pebble Beach in 2018. He finished even par and tied for 68th.
He tied for sixth at the US Open, though, so he gets the nod here as the favorite at +1200. That gives you an idea of the field that we have to work with this week. This is only a $4 million purse with only six figures for the winner. It is, however, a full points event, so 500 FedEx Cup points are up for grabs here.
You won’t find many household names in the field this week. Guys like Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes (+1600) get some run every week on the PGA Tour. Conners is a great ball striker and Hughes is a very good putter. You know veterans like Charles Howell III, Graeme McDowell, who is the reigning champ, Pat Perez, Branden Grace, Charley Hoffman, Brian Stuard, and Henrik Stenson.
This is a tough handicap, though. Most of the short prices are guys that are 50 to 60/1 in regular events, if not higher. This is a par 72 that comes in between 7,600 and 7,700 yards, but isn’t your traditional bomber’s course. This hasn’t really been a pure ball striking event because there haven’t been a lot of great ball strikers in it.
In fact, with some large putting surfaces here, this generally becomes a tournament about who can make the most one-putts. A lot of GIR get hit at this course, but finishing those off with circles on the scorecard goes a long way. The wind may kick up with a coastal course and that could increase the scores a little bit, but that is where putting prowess becomes that great equalizer.
As a result, there are a few putters on the radar this week as picks to win and you can also factor some of these guys into matchups as well.
Patrick Rodgers is a fairly short price at +5000 here, but he is a good starting point with a tournament where taking some big shots is appropriate. Beating a slate full of elite players isn’t easy. Beating a bunch of guys that are as inconsistent as you are is a lot easier. As a result, triple-digit prices are not a bad gamble. Neither is a 50/1 shot like Rodgers.
Rodgers was 11th in SG: Putting last season, but he is one of the better players in terms of a well-rounded game. Along with being a good putter, Rodgers was 55th in SG: Off-the-Tee and 66th in SG: Total. His approach game was poor, which held him down in a lot of ball striking metrics, but he drives it well and putts it well and that’s about all you need at a course like this.
You can really take some chances with some flawed players here because they do one thing better than most of the field and that could be the difference. Somebody like an Aaron Baddeley at +15000 because he’s a really solid putter. He’s also a guy that finished tied for seventh last year in this event. Somebody like Dominic Bozzelli, who won here on the Web.com Tour four years ago. He’s +30000, but he’s a good putter as well.
Maybe this is a spot for Matthew NeSmith, who is one of the better ball strikers in the field, but one of the weaker putters in the field. Maybe this course, like so many others, ends up tailored more for ball strikers than other types of players. He’s only +9000 and doesn’t fit what I’ve deemed most important yet, but the young players have a much better chance in fields like this than a regular strength field.
Akshay Bhatia is just 18 and just had a top-10 finish at the Safeway Open. He’s +10000. Somebody like that is another consideration. Basically, this is just an extremely wide-open field with no star power. Maybe a chalky player wins, but Graeme McDowell wasn’t one last year and neither was Brice Garnett in 2018. Don’t be afraid to get a little risky in this field with your handicapping. Just keep in mind that you don’t have to bet a 100/1 the same way that you would a 40/1.
We’ve written this early enough in the week that there aren’t a lot of matchups posted here, but look for putters. Guys like Denny McCarthy, who is +3500 to win outright, or Kristoffer Ventura, who is +4000. Those are two of the best putters in the field.
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