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Jhonattan Vegas. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
March 23rd, 2022
The PGA Tour will divide its attention this week, with 64 of the top players in the world headed to Texas for the World Golf Championships Match Play competition, and a field of 120 destined for the Dominican Republic to tee off in the 2022 Corales Puntacana Championship.
The five-year-old PGA Tour event in Punta Cana is an alternate event with a bit less star power compared to the match-play tournament, but betting opportunities abound in a wide-open field filled with veterans and newcomers alike.
Thirty-seven-year-old Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas will enter as the +1400 favorite, ahead of reigning champion Joel Dahmen (+1800), who earned his first Tour title at Corales Golf Club in 2021. Hudson Swafford (+4500), who won in 2020, and 2019 champ Graeme McDowell (+4000) are also back for a chance at a second win, as well as Brice Garnett (+3300), who triumphed at Corales in its inaugural year with the PGA Tour.
Let’s examine the Corales Golf Club design and look at the key course notes, as we make our best picks for the 2022 Corales Puntacana Championship.
A Tom Fazio design, Corales Golf Club opened in 2010 and became the home of the Corales Puntacana Championship in 2016, then part of the Web.com Tour (today known as the Korn Ferry Tour).
In March 2018, the event transitioned to the PGA Tour as an alternate event to the WGC Match Play and has seen an average winning score of 18-under, save for 2021, when Dahmen navigated 25 to 30 mph winds to finish 12-under par.
Aside from a chance of rain on Thursday, this year's tournament should enjoy plenty of sunshine and light breezes, so expect scores to be low.
The par-72, 7,670-yard coastal course is a moderate test for golfers, with 50 acres of fairways and large (6,000 square foot average), slow Paspalum greens.
Walking through our seaside holes is a nice experience 🏌🏻.📍Corales Golf Course . pic.twitter.com/j5MUWBZmVW— coraleschamp (@CoralesChamp) December 11, 2021
Walking through our seaside holes is a nice experience 🏌🏻.📍Corales Golf Course . pic.twitter.com/j5MUWBZmVW
The challenge lies in the "Devil's Elbow," the final three-hole stretch with dramatic ocean cliffs that overlook the Caribbean. There are six oceanside holes found on the picturesque layout and a number of cliffs, bays, lakes, and quarries in view.
Recent winners ranked in the top five in overall putting average, were 10th or better in par-5 scoring, and 33rd or better in ball striking the week of their victory.
In 2021, the 12 golfers who finished tied for ninth or better were all inside the top 17 in greens in regulation percentage.
One player who will head to Corales in good form is 32-year-old Mark Hubbard (+2800). The Colorado native posted two top-six finishes in his two appearances on the Korn Ferry Tour the past month, and landed 15th at the Honda Classic in late February.
Hubbard ranks 52nd on Tour in strokes gained approaching the green, top 40 in overall putting average, and is tied for 41st in par-5 scoring. He will make his debut at Corales Golf Club but has the upside to contend in his first go at the course.
Another player who should do well this weekend is Swafford (+4500), who followed up his win at Corales in 2020 with a sixth-place showing at this event in 2021. The 34-year-old from Florida has struggled lately, with three straight missed cuts at The Players Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and the Honda Classic, but earned a win on Tour at the American Express in early January.
Hudson Swafford went low all weekend 👀Swafford posted four rounds in the 60s to win the Corales Championship! 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/skqBZBiM1v— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) September 27, 2020
Hudson Swafford went low all weekend 👀Swafford posted four rounds in the 60s to win the Corales Championship! 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/skqBZBiM1v
Swafford ranks 31st in ball striking, is top 60 in par-5 scoring and strokes gained approaching the green, and is 35th in birdie or better percentage.
Last year, Dahmen entered this tournament with six missed cuts in seven tournaments and was able to bounce back for a victory, so there's no reason to shy away from Swafford, who has proven an expert at this course.
The winner of the 2022 Corales Puntacana Championship will receive 300 FedEx Cup points and $666,000 of a $3.7 million purse.
You can catch all the action on the following days and times:
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