Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Corales Puntacana Championship Tips

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This is the seventh Corales Championship on the PGA Tour, with Brice Garnett, Graeme McDowell, Hudson Swafford, Joel Dahmen, Chad Ramey and Matt Wallace taking the first six renewals. The PGA Tour has signed a 4-year contract with Grupo Puntacana, the owner of the Puntacana Resort & Club, which will see this tournament on the schedule through this 2025 season. This week’s tournament is a part PGA Tour event offering up 300 FedEx Cup points, a full 2-year exemption, and an increased $4 million prize fund.

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Course Guide: We are pretty much accustomed with the Corales Golf Club which has played host to a couple of Korn Ferry events, and now 5 PGA Tour events.  Set by the coast, it plays to a long 7,668 yards and is a Par 72, but with temperatures pushing 30 degrees Celsius each day the ball travels a mile in these parts.

As part of the Puntacana Resort, the course is not the most difficult so expect plenty of attacking play this week, as long as the wind allows. The inland front-9 is where the heavy scoring happens, with the back-9 featuring plenty of coast-lined holes and some longer par-3s, par-4s and par-5s.

Corales Golf Club, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Designer: Tom Fazio 2010; Course Type: Mid-Score, Coastal, Long; Par: 72; Length: 7,670 yards; Holes with Water Hazards In-Play: 6; Number of Sand Bunkers: 94; Acres of Fairway: 50; Fairways: Supreme Paspalum; Rough: Supreme Paspalum 1.75-2″; Greens: 6,000 sq.ft average featuring Supreme Paspalum; Tournament Stimp: 11ft.

Course Scoring Average:

  • 2018: 71.50 (-0.50), Difficulty Rank 26 of 51 courses.
  • 2019: 71.07 (-0.93), Rank 30 of 49 courses.
  • 2020: 71.12 (-0.88), Rank 30 of 51 courses.
  • 2021: 72.48 (+0.48), Rank 14 of 51 courses.
  • 2022: 71.23 (-0.77), Rank 25 of 50 courses.
  • 2023: 71.32 (-0.68), Difficulty Rank 27 of 49 courses.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other Tom Fazio designs include:

  • Atunyote GC – Turning Stone Championship 2007-10.
  • Caves Valley GC – BMW Championship 2021.
  • Congaree GC – Palmetto Championship 2021 + CJ Cup 2022.
  • Conway Farms GC – BMW Championship 2013, 2015, 2017.
  • Eagle Point – Wells Fargo Championship 2017.
  • Raptor Course Greyhawk GC – Fry’ Open 2008/09.
  • Shadow Creek GC – CJ Cup 2020.
  • The Summit Club – CJ Cup 2021.

Fazio has also had renovation input into:

  • Riviera Country Club – Genesis Invitational.
  • Quail Hollow – Wells Fargo Championship 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021 & 2017 PGA Championship.
  • Merion – 2013 U.S. Open.
  • Oakmont – 2016 U.S. Open.
  • Seaside Course at Sea Island – RSM Classic

Course Overview: The Corales course opened in 2010 and is a Tom Fazio design. A little like El Camaleon which used to host the Mayakoba Golf Classic in the autumn, the Corales is split between inland and coastal sections. Away from the shore, the course features a number of water hazards and fairways marked with coconut trees, but in the main the inland section is more than scoreable. 6 holes play along the coast, including the home stretch across holes 16 to 18, known as the Devils Elbow. From a grass perspective this week we are dealing with Paspalum greens, so for PGA Tour stop-offs think again about El Camaleon host of the Mayakoba Classic, Grand Reserve Country Club host of the Puerto Rico Open, the Norman Signature Course at Vidanta host of the Mexico Open, and El Cardonal at Diamante host of the WWT Championship.

As part of the Corales Puntacana Resort complex, the course is clearly designed around the needs of amateur golfers, so this isn’t intrinsically a hard test. The outbound set of 9 holes is where some serious scoring is essential. With the longest par-4 measuring 465 yards and 2 par-5s which only measure 563 yards (4th) and 515 yards (7th), the front side of the golf course is there for the taking.

The inward-9 is more stringent with both par-5s playing over 600 yards and the closing Devils Elbow putting up far sterner resistance. Every year it plays over par across the field.

As with all coastal golf, winning scores tend to be dictated by wind. Take 2021 where winds gusting to 22mph on Thursday and 26mph across the closing 54 holes, saw Joel Dahmen took the title at -12/276. Slightly less wind and tee-up situations have led to lower scoring across both 2022 (-17/271) and 2023 (-19/269).

The par-3, par-4, par-5 splits over the 7 renewals held here (including Korn Ferry) have been -2 -9 -13 for Bozzelli, -5 -8 -7 for Lashley, -4 -4 -10 for Garnett, -2 -6 -10 for G-Mac -2 -4 -12 for Swafford, +1, -3, -10 for Dahmen, -2, -3, -12 for Ramey and E, -7, -12 for Wallace. Undoubtedly the 16 looks at the longest holes tends to be the key here.

corales championship tips

Corales Championship Winners: 2023: Matt Wallace (-19); 2022: Chad Ramey (-17); 2021: Joel Dahmen (-12); 2020: Hudson Swafford (-18); 2019: Graeme McDowell (-18); 2018: Brice Garnett (-18).

  • 2023: Matt Wallace 67-66-70-66 -19/269
  • 2022: Chad Ramey 70-65-69-67 -17/271
  • 2021: Joel Dahmen 67-71-68-70 -12/276
  • 2020: Hudson Swafford 65-67-69-69 -18/270
  • 2019: Graeme McDowell 73-64-64-69 -18/270
  • 2018: Brice Garnett 63-68-69-70 -18/270

Path to Victory: Below are end of round positions for the winners of the Corales Championship since 2018:

  • 2023 – Matt Wallace: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2022 – Chad Ramey: Round 1:15th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2021 – Joel Dahmen: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 4th, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2020 – Hudson Swafford: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2019 – Graeme McDowell: Round 1: 81st, Round 2: 7th, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2018 – Brice Garnett: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 6 Corales Championship winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2023 – Matt Wallace: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2022 – Chad Ramey: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2021 – Joel Dahmen: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: level.
  • 2020 – Hudson Swafford: Round 1: level, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2019 – Graeme McDowell: Round 1: 7 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2018 – Brice Garnett: Round 1: 1 ahead, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 1 ahead.

OWGR of Corales Championship Winners: 2023: Wallace 175; 2022: Ramey 203; 2021: Dahmen 79; 2020: Swafford 341; 2019: McDowell 257; 2018: Garnett 214.

Cut Line: 2023: E; 2022: -1; 2021: +3; 2020: -3; 2019: -2; 2018: -1.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2023: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -11; Round 3 -14; Round 4 -19.
  • 2022: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -12; Round 3 -14; Round 4 -17.
  • 2021: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -7; Round 3 -10; Round 4 -12.
  • 2020: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -12; Round 3 -17; Round 4 -18.
  • 2019: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -10; Round 3 -15; Round 4 -18.
  • 2018: Round 1 -9; Round 2 -13; Round 3 -16; Round 4 -18.

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are: Alex Noren, Joel Dahmen, Nate Lashley, Billy Horschel, Tyler Duncan, Mark Hubbard, Brandon Wu, Ben Martin, Doug Ghim and Sam Ryder.

Corales Championship Winners & Prices: 2023: Wallace 25/1; 2022: Ramey 50/1; 2021: Dahmen 50/1; 2020: Swafford 200/1; 2019: McDowell 40/1; 2018: Garnett 66/1.  Overall Average: 71/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2023: Thursday: Mostly sunny. High of 83. Wind NE 14-18 mph, gusting to 26 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny. High of 84. Wind ENE 15-20 mph, gusting to 26 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 83. Wind ENE 15-20 mph, gusting to 26 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 84. Wind E 12-17 mph, gusting to 25 mph.
  • 2022: Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 84. Wind ENE 10-15 mph, gusting to 22 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 85. Wind E 8-14 mph, gusting to 18 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 85. Wind SE 6-12 mph, gusting to 15 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 84. Wind SE 6-12 mph.
  • 2021: Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 84. Wind ENE 14-18 mph, gusting to 22 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny. High of 85. Wind ENE 15-25 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 85. Wind ENE 16-26 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy, showers possible. High of 86. Wind ENE 16-26 mph.
  • 2020: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with occasional showers. High of 91. Wind ESE at 6-12 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 91. Wind ENE at 6-12 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 91. Wind ENE at 6-12 mph, gusting to 16 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 91. Wind NE at 8-12 mph, gusting to 16 mph
  • 2019: Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 85. Wind SSE 8-14 mph, with gusts to 20 mph. Friday: Cloudy with isolated showers. High of 85. Wind SE 5-10 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 83. Wind NE 5-10 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 83. Wind NE 7-14 mph.
  • 2018: Thursday: Partly cloudy and humid with a high of 84. Wind ESE 8-14 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy and humid with a high of 84. Wind ESE 8-14 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy with a high of 83. Wind NE wind 15-20. Sunday: Cloudy with scattered showers. High of 82. Wind NE 15-20 mph, with gusts of 25 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, is here.

I’m expecting typical equatorial conditions with temperatures approaching 28 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit). And with forecasted winds relatively light for this stretch of the Dominican Republic, standard winds here are north-easterly up to gusts of 20 mph – anything less than that and the course becomes significantly easier.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Mexico Open/Magical Kenya Open which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events, where recorded. Player rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Kevin Yu; 2) Kevin Dougherty; 3) Thriston Lawrence; 4) Alex Fitzpatrick / Rico Hoey; 6) Cody Gribble / Peter Kuest; 8) Nicolai Hojgaard; 9) Trace Crowe; 10) Billy Horschel; 11) Doug Ghim / Matti Schmid; 13) Ryan Palmer; 14) Daniel Berger / Ryan Brehm / Joel Dahmen / Lanto Griffin / Jhonattan Vegas; 19) Harrison Endycott; 20) Joseph Bramlett / Patrick Fishburn; 22) Bud Cauley / Alex Noren / Victor Perez / Jimmy Stanger.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Henrik Norlander; 2) Lanto Griffin; 3) Ben Martin; 4) Patton Kizzire; 5) Alex Noren; 6) Victor Perez; 7) Jhonattan Vegas; 8) Aaron Rai; 9) Kevin Yu; 10) Rico Hoey; 11) Greyson Sigg; 12) Bud Cauley; 13) Joel Dahmen / Doug Ghim; 15) Charley Hoffman / Nate Lashley / Francesco Molinari; 18) Daniel Berger; 19) Parker Coody; 20) Mark Hubbard; 21) Tyson Alexander / Chan Kim; 23) Peter Kuest / Austin Smotherman; 25) Alex Fitzpatrick / Troy Merritt.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Marty Dou; 2) Austin Cook; 3) Scott Piercy; 4) Alex Fitzpatrick / Roger Sloan / Austin Smotherman; 7) Chez Reavie; 8) Joseph Bramlett / Alex Noren; 10) Kevin Chappell / Ben Griffin / Vince Whaley; 13) Jeff Overton; 14) S.H. Kim; 15) Billy Horschel; 16) Jorge Campillo; 17) Tyson Alexander; 18) K.H. Lee / Richy Werenski; 20) Joe Highsmith / Davis Thompson / Carl Yuan; 23) Mark Hubbard / Adam Long / Greyson Sigg.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Alex Noren; 2) Alex Fitzpatrick; 3) Kevin Yu; 4) Lanto Griffin; 5) Bud Cauley / Rico Hoey / Peter Kuest; 8) Aaron Rai; 9) Billy Horschel; 10) Doug Ghim / Victor Perez / Greyson Sigg; 13) Nate Lashley; 14) Daniel Berger; 15) Davis Thompson; 16) Joel Dahmen; 17) Joseph Bramlett / Chan Kim / Ben Martin; 20) Charley Hoffman; 21) Mark Hubbard / Jhonattan Vegas; 23) Max Greyserman; 24) Nicolai Hojgaard; 25) Troy Merritt / Roger Sloan / Hayden Springer.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Thriston Lawrence; 2) Peter Kuest; 3) James Hahn; 4) Raul Pereda; 5) Martin Trainer; 6) Chad Ramey; 7) Jacob Bridgeman; 8) Taylor Pendrith; 9) Chris Gotterup; 10) Pierceson Coody / Wilson Furr / Justin Lower / Chez Reavie; 14) S.H. Kim / Matti Schmid; 16) Ben Griffin; 17) Ben Martin / Sam Ryder; 19) Alex Noren; 20) Tyson Alexander / Carson Young; 22) M.J. Daffue / Ben Taylor; 24) Parker Coody / Nico Echavarria / Garrick Higgo / Austin Smotherman.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Peter Kuest; 2) Alex Noren; 3) Tommy Gainey; 4) Billy Horschel/ Aaron Rai; 6) Bud Cauley / Victor Perez; 8) Mark Hubbard / Thriston Lawrence; 10) Ben Martin; 11) Max Greyserman / Jimmy Stanger; 13) Ben Griffin / Jim Herman; 15) Alex Fitzpatrick / Doug Ghim / Mac Meissner; 18) Tyson Alexander / Henrik Norlander / Matti Schmid; 21) Marty Dou / Lanto Griffin / Rico Hoey / Chan Kim / Nate Lashley / Ben Silverman / Hayden Springer.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of Corales Championship winners since 2018 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this tough Florida golf test:

  • 2023, Matt Wallace (-19). 300 yards (15th), 73.2% fairways (31st), 73.6% greens in regulation (11th), 84.2 % scrambling (4th), 1.68 putts per GIR (12th).
  • 2022, Chad Ramey (-17). 290 yards (50th), 78.6% fairways (14th), 66.7% greens in regulation (21st), 75.0 % scrambling (18th), 1.58 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2021, Joel Dahmen (-12). 306 yards (17th), 69.6% fairways (40th), 68.1% greens in regulation (10th), 78.3 % scrambling (4th), 1.63 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2020, Hudson Swafford (-18). 303 yards (12th), 78.6% fairways (14th), 70.8% greens in regulation (25th), 71.4 % scrambling (21st), 1.65 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2019, Graeme McDowell (-18). 286 yards (53rd), 73.2% fairways (31st), 72.2% greens in regulation (16th), 60.0 % scrambling (47th), 1.52 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2018, Brice Garnett (-18). 288 yards (51st), 80.4% fairways (20th), 66.7% greens in regulation (24th), 75.0 % scrambling (15th), 1.54 putts per GIR (1st).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 33rd, Driving Accuracy: 25th, Greens in Regulation: 18th, Scrambling: 18th, Putting Average 4th.

Let’s take a view from players as to how Corales Golf Club sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Matt Wallace (2023): “The course was playing pretty tough, you know, with the wind. Wind picked up, stayed pretty consistent in the direction, but we had a great game plan. We’ve been playing well and yeah, it’s nice to get off to a good start.

We had it only playing probably about 12 or 13 at the start. Picked up a little bit towards the end downwind, but into wind it’s a lot more than downwind for me especially with the lofted clubs. So we were playing some of them 25 yards into wind with some lofted clubs.

 A little bit of confidence there, finding the middle of the clubface. Those ones into wind, yeah, they were seriously long for that sort of distance getting up to 295 and we’re thinking there’s a 20-, 30-mile an hour wind. Yeah, it’s nice, it’s nice. I’m not trying to overexert myself as well, I’m just trying to hit it as good as I can and they’re coming off nice and hot. 

I actually spoke to Luke Donald last week to see if he knew about this golf course and he did and he said it was relatively wide off the tee, it wasn’t his style of golf, which he obviously likes the tight. I was like yeah, it’s kind of similar to myself, I like the really tough golf courses, but actually when I got here I was like maybe it’s a good thing for me at the moment. My driving was really good this week because I probably had that space. So it was a good golf course for me to come to. My iron play was stellar and my putting, my chipping has been awesome. Yeah, it all came together.”

Chad Ramey (2022): “My game? I don’t hit it the longest out here, but I usually keep it out in front of me. Hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens. Then if I can get the putter working, usually shoot some scores. I just liked how I putted and wedged the ball today. I didn’t have my best with my driver, still hit a lot of good iron shots, but my putter and wedge definitely bailed me out.”

“The win will make a big difference. I can kind of look at my schedule and kind of pick and choose a little more of where I want to go, whereas the way it’s been my rookie season, I’ve kind of just wherever I get the opportunity to play, I kind of have to go play because I don’t really have much of an option. It will definitely make planning and everything like that a little easier.”

Joel Dahmen (2021): “I played here during the Korn Ferry Tour and I think I played here in 18 maybe. I played okay there as well, so I’ve had good success here. I normally typically am a pretty good ball-striker, and the wind blows so you have to hit your ball solid out here and that’s what I do. Made a couple good par saves, too.

Yeah, those last holes, those are so hard, 16, 17, 18, into the wind, long, tough. I hit 4-iron on 16, 4-iron on 17, 4-iron on 18, but I got it on the green. But I wasn’t even thinking that Rafa could tie me, I was just trying to figure out how to two-putt somehow. He hit a great shot in there and somehow his putt missed, I don’t know how that one missed, but those things happen when you win. I’ve been close a couple times, but the breaks didn’t quite go my way and today they definitely went my way for sure.”

Hudson Swafford (2020): “I came here two years ago and I actually, I missed the cut but I liked the golf course. It really, really sets up good for me. I was kind of not in a good place when I came here last year, struggling with my game. Got to be a great mid to long iron player here with the par 3s and a lot of long par 4s, so I thought the golf course set up great for me. Yeah, I had been playing good. I wasn’t going to miss it.”

Graeme McDowell: “No, I love the golf course. I think the golf course is really, really good. The front nine is kind of shortish and tricky and the back nine is actually very long. Eighteen (Devil’s Elbow) is a beautiful hole. I played it yesterday and it was kind of downwind and you’re able to bite off a lot of the corner. When I was here last year, we had more of the north wind and you had to go way left and play a long second shot in.  Made a bunch of birdies and it comes to a halt when you’ve got 5-wood into 10 and 5-wood into 11. Listen, happy with that. That was a bit more like it. But like I say, I was very clean today, hit a lot of nice shots, hit a lot of better iron shots. I feel pretty good on these greens. I’ve got a house in the Bahamas and play a lot on this Paspalum type stuff, so I kind of feel like I practice more on this type of stuff. In a funny way that kind of stands me in good stead here as well.”

Brice Garnett: “Yeah, I think last year I just kind of approached the golf course wrong. Everybody’s kind of in play off the tee box. I kind of got out of my element, out of my game. To me, this is a second-shot golf course. Everybody’s in play off the tee and it comes down to a putting competition. I would say one of my best aspects of my game is probably my tee ball. I wouldn’t say this helps me tremendously, but there’s a lot of tee balls with the wind off the right and that’s what I prefer. Today I was able to hit a lot of fairways and get good looks from there. Well, I think last year I was focused too much on bombing the driver. That’s just not my game. My game is put it in the fairway and try to take advantage from there. So this year my wedges have been great. I’ve played the par 5s great, and I’ve putted good, too. So I’ll just kind of stick more to my game plan and not let the width of the fairways or the length kind of deter me from my game.”

Keith Mitchell: “I played it two years ago and I’ve played enough on Paspalum that I know that when you’re putting on Paspalum, if there’s ever any doubt, it’s usually straighter than you think and usually hit it a little firmer than you think. But no, it was both. The wind, it all depended on where you were when the wind and the rain picked up to determine if it was – your luck on that hole. 15 was the hardest hole and we played it right into the wind.

Jonathan Byrd: “It was a solid day. It’s kind of, it’s one of those courses that I think if you’re disciplined on your second shots, that you can have a fairly solid day because there’s plenty of room off the tee. But I really drove the ball pretty well. I didn’t feel quite as great about my swing today, I felt a little out of rhythm, but I kept hitting some pretty good tee shots. I really only hit about two bad shots today, maybe just one on a par 5 and I still made birdie. It was a clean day and I made some good putts and hit some good pitch shots on the par 5s. Yeah, I just feel I’ve got to take advantage of every day. You’ve just got to stay aggressive on this golf course. If you get a little passive, you’ll make a lot of pars, but you’ve got to be intent on making some birdies because guys are going to shoot low scores.”

Incoming Form of Corales Championship winners since 2018:

  • Matt Wallace: 7th Valspar/MC Players/29th Honda/MC Genesis.
  • Chad Ramey: MC Valspar/5th Puerto/MC Honda/28th Suncoast.
  • Joel Dahmen: MC Players/MC Arnold Palmer/MC Genesis/60th Pebble.
  • Hudson Swafford: 56th Fortinet/MC Lincoln Land/MC 3M Open/MC Workday.
  • Graeme McDowell: 46th Valspar/54th Arnold Palmer/ MDF Honda/42nd Puerto Rico.
  • Brice Garnett: 31st Valspar/MC Honda/MC Genesis/35th Pebble.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2023 – Garnett/Martin AM/PM -6/66 80/1 & 40/1.
  • 2022 – Martin AM -6/66 150/1.
  • 2021 – Jaeger AM -6/66 66/1.
  • 2020 – Harrington/McCumber/Straka/Swafford 1AM/3PM -7/65 110/1, 150/1, 50/1, 110/1.
  • 2019 – Dahmen/Dunne/Jones 1AM/2PM -6/66 40/1, 50/1, 45/1.
  • 2018 – Garnett AM -9/63 – 60/1

For the record, here’s the breakdown of Paspalum PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 1 – Ryan Brehm, Joel Dahmen, Nico Echavarria, Charley Hoffman, Patton Kizzire, George McNeill, Chad Ramey, D.A. Points, Martin Trainer.

We are into our seventh PGA Tour visit to the Corales so we have some history to look into in the pursuit for a winner. Brice Garnett can only be described as Paspalum and tropics specialist on the basis that prior to his win here in 2018, he had finished 6th (2014) and 7th (2015) at El Camaleon – host course of the Mayakoba Classic. He’s also gone on to finish 5th (2021), 7th (2022) and 1st (2024) at Grand Reserve – host course of the Puerto Rico Open. An understated coastal specialist, Garnett had also finished in the top 20 across Pebble Beach and Harbour Town, prior to winning this off a 31st place finish at Copperhead.

2019 saw veteran Graeme McDowell take his 4th PGA Tour title. Now we know with G-Mac that coastal affairs are exactly what he excels at. The 2010 U.S. Open winner at Pebble Beach, McDowell’s wins on the PGA Tour have also come at Harbour Town (2013), Mayakoba (2015) and naturally here. So all 4 victories on the coast. You can also add the 2020 Saudi International to that list played at Royal Greens G&CC. That course is played around 4 lakes, with a stretch of the course running alongside the Red Sea. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have also noted that McDowell’s wins in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Saudi Arabia, were all on Paspalum putting surfaces.

2020 saw Hudson Swafford win the Corales in September. You’ll have done well to dig him out at 200/1. Injury had ravaged his 2020 with far more MCs than pay cheques, but he arrived in the Dominican Republic off 56th at Silverado. A winner on the Bermudagrass greens of PGA West in 2017, Swafford’s coastal highlights on the PGA Tour had been exclusively at Waialae Country Club where he had finished 8th (2014), 9th (2016) and 3rd (2019). Prior to winning this 11 appearances on Paspalum golf courses on the PGA Tour had heralded no better finish than 24th at the 2015 CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur and Swafford’s previous visit to Corales Golf Club had resulted in a MC.

On to 2021 where Joel Dahmen won his maiden PGA Tour title on his 111th PGA Tour start at 50/1. 6 missed cuts in 7 2021 outings was hardly compelling, but what Joel lacked in current form he made up for in course form. 11th (3rd after 36 holes), 13th and 12th (7th after 36 holes) on his 3 goes here at Corales was pretty stellar, plus he had also finished 6th at Mayakoba in 2019, which we know is a coastal, Paspalum grassed affair.

2022 saw Tour rookie Chad Ramey win at 50/1. 26th (8th after 54 holes) at Sanderson Farms, 14th at the Shriners Children’s Open and 17th at the Bermuda Championship in the Fall had shown a level of talent on the main Tour. That was before 5th at the Puerto Rico Open, where Chad had been 3rd after 54 holes, which they played just 4 weeks prior to the Corales. Clearly the Paspalum, coastal, sub-tropical climes of Puerto Rico and Costa Rico worked for the Mississippi man.

2023 saw Matt Wallace land his very first PGA Tour title here, building upon 4 on the DP World Tour. Winless for 5 years, he held off Nicolai Hojgaard by a shot with a great mix of long driving and solid ball-striking. Matt had finished 7th at the Valspar Championship in Tampa, before jumping on a jet to the Dominican Republic.

My Final Corales Championship Tips Are As Follows:

Victor Perez 1.5pts EW 30/1 (8EW, 1/5) with bet365

Victor Perez came within a single Aon Swing 5 spot of playing in the RBC Heritage this week in South Carolina. He’s acquitted himself well enough on the PGA Tour and has plenty of class about him in a weak opposite field event.

Victor is in his rookie season on the PGA Tour and playing very nicely. 16th at PGA National saw the Frenchman 4th heading into Sunday and the Edinburgh, Scotland resident, then flew directly to Puerto Rico where he finished 3rd, shooting -15/201 over the closing 54 holes in windswept conditions. 17th at the Houston Open (13th after 54 holes) and 45th at the Valero Texas Open (18th after 36 holes), have kept the FedEx Cup points flowing in nicely, but at 91st in the standings there is still work to be done to secure full playing privileges.

A 3-time DP World Tour winner, Perez has finished 4th at the 2021 WGC Dell Technologies Match Play and 12th at last year’s PGA Championship. He can be a high-class operator. DP World Tour wins have come at strong events with 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and the 2023 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship both coming by the coast. That last win also came on a fairly long Paspalum golf course at Yas Links, plus he’s also finished 4th at the 2021 Saudi International played on the Paspalum carpeted Royal Greens Golf & Country Club. RESULT: T43

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Ben Martin 1pt EW 50/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

Ben Martin is the kind of player I like for these alternate events. The 36 year old is experienced – 241 PGA Tour starts – and with only a single PGA Tour win to his name, he appreciates having full Tour status on a Tour where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to hold Full Status. So these alternative/opposite events are a huge opportunity.

He’s also playing some very nice golf having made 4 straight cuts including 31st at the Players Championship and 7th last time out at the Valero Texas Open – his best ever finish at TPC San Antonio. At 106th currently in the FedEx Cup, there is still much work to do to secure full playing privileges (or better) and Ben historically has always taken these weaker events seriously throughout his career. 6th at the 2011 Reno Tahoe Open, 3rd at the 2014 Puerto Rico Open, 7th at the 2016 Barracuda Championship, plus 6th at the 2017 Barbasol Championship.

His results here at Corales are also eye-catching. 4 appearances have brought 4 pay cheques including 9th (2021), an emotional 2nd (2022), and 8th (2023) over his past 3 renewals. 3rd (2014) and 14th (2020) in Puerto Rico, plus 20th (2020) at El Camaleon, Martin clearly likes these sub-tropical climes and plays very nice on Paspalum golf courses.

Ranking in this field in the top 20 for Tee to Green and Putting, plus top 5 for Approach across my 8-week Strokes Gained trackers, Ben also ranks in the top 10 for Strokes Gained Current Form. RESULT: T55

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Tyler Duncan 1pt EW 55/1 (8Ew, 1/5) with Boylesports

Tyler Duncan is another I really like this week. Extremely inconsistent, Tyler is undoubtedly Bermudagrass and Paspalum positive, plus he’s a PGA Tour winner. When on-form he’s also the sort who can mix it in weaker fields. Take the end of 2023 when he finished 16th at the Sanderson Farms, 18th at the Shriners and 3rd at the RSM Classic to gain full playing privileges for 2024.

1st (2019) and 3rd (2023) at Sea Island, which is a Tom Fazio renovation, Duncan also has some great form here at the Corales GC, where he plays every year. 33rd (2016) and 3rd (2017) on the Korn Ferry Tour, Tyler was also 4th here after 36 holes in 2021 before finishing 48th, 28th in 2022 and 3rd here last year. That’s decent enough course form.

The sort who has rarely fired significantly on the west coast, a move eastwards has started to see an improvement in results. 23rd at the Puerto Rico Open doesn’t tell the whole story as he shot 67-67-70 to be in 9th spot heading into Sunday. An opening Thursday -5/67 was T6 best score of the day at the Players Championship and got him into the weekend – he finished 64th. Plus last time out at the Valero Texas Open Tyler was 18th after 36 holes, eventually finishing 51st, but he was positive across all Tee to Green categories which was his best performance in that category going back 6 months to the Shriners.

Undoubtedly there are signs that a contending performance is afoot and at 150th in the FedEx Cup currently he will be taking this week in the Dominican Republic as the serious opportunity it deserves. RESULT: MC

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Joe Highsmith 1pt EW 80/1 with Betfred

Joe Highsmith is my final selection at the 2024 Corales Puntacana Championship. With headwear similar to that of 2021 Corales champion Joel Dahmen, Highsmith has been making a small, but noticeable splash of late in his rookie season on the PGA Tour. 34th at The American Express and 33rd at the Farmers Insurance Open were good finishes in decent company. Indeed you may remember that Joe was 5th at Torrey Pines heading into Sunday, which was a noteworthy effort in a stacked field.

Highsmith then “arrived” at the Puerto Rico Open. Opening rounds of 65-65 at Grand Reserve Country Club saw him as the 36 hole leader. He didn’t flounder completely either, finishing 6th on the Paspalum greens, scoring well on the par-5s, which again will be key this week at Corales GC.

Since then 21st at the Houston Open featured an opening round 65 and a closing 67, with Highsmith T10 for par-5 scoring at the stretching Memorial Park. That was followed by another made cut at the Valero Texas Open, with Highsmith now inside the coveted top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings heading into the Dominican Republic.

Mid-range off the tee (plenty for here) I like Joe this week on the basis that the strength of his game are his mid to long irons, plus on a course which features well over 90 bunkers he’s top 60 for Sand Saves, which will be critical when the wind inevitably blows here as is the norm. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 16:48BST 15.4.24 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.