This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship
Course: Corales Golf Course (7,666 yards, par 72)
Winner: $720,000 and 500 FedExCup points
After being as Korn Ferry Tour event back in 2016 and 2017, then being an alternate field event in 2018 and 2019, the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship will now get full status meaning the winner will receive 500 FedExCup points instead of the usual 250 points for an opposite field event. The winner will also get into the 2021 Masters, Tournament of Champions, Players Championship, and PGA Championship, as well as exempt status on the PGA Tour through 2023. With most of the big name players looking to take some time off following a busy schedule that included the FedExCup playoffs and a couple of majors in less than two months, these next couple weeks provide a tremendous opportunity for some of the younger and lower ranked players to gain FedExCup and OWGR points. Will Zalatoris, who tops the Korn Ferry Tour Point List and is coming off a T6 at the U.S. Open, will be one of the favorites to take home his first PGA Tour title. TOUR Championship qualifier Mackenzie Hughes will be in the field as well and will look to do one spot better than he did the last time this event was held. The man that edged him out by one shot in 2019 was Greame McDowell, who snapped a five-year PGA Tour winless streak and will be looking to defend his title. The weather can be somewhat unpredictable in Punta Cana, but the early forecast calls for temperatures in the high-80's with winds between 10-15 mph throughout the duration of the event. Don't be surprised if we get some rain or high wind gusts for at least a portion of the tournament. If the winds stay down, however, these players should be able to eat this course alive.
Key Stats to Victory
With some of the biggest greens on Tour, GIR percentage will be a fairly irrelevant stat at Corales Golf Club. Instead SG: Approach and proximity to the hole should take precedent, as the greens are pretty undulating and the best chance for birdies will come if you can put your ball on the correct tier. This all becomes even more difficult if the Oceanside breezes kick up, then it will be a lot about controlling trajectory. This will also be one of the most important weeks in terms of putting that we have seen in awhile on the PGA Tour. Avoiding three-putts on these large greens will be a difficult challenge, and if the wind blows, it becomes that much more of an advantage to the players that are consistently hitting solid putts. Each of the last two winners here paced the field in putts per GIR to demonstrate the importance of the flat stick at Corales. The fairways are pretty generous and the rough will not be that big of a penalty at this course, so a high SG: Off-the-Tee or driving distance ranking will only make it easier for you to get the ball on the green in good situations for birdies. Scrambling numbers shouldn't be a big factor with these large putting surfaces.
FanDuel Value Picks
Will Zalatoris ($11,800)
How crazy is it that a guy who doesn't even have his card is the favorite at a PGA Tour event? That just shows you how much Zalatoris has been lighting it up on the Korn Ferry Tour, leading in scoring average and points behind 11 straight top-20 finishes. And if you had any questions about his game traveling, the 24-year-old put that to bed last week with a T6 finish at the U.S. Open.
Sam Burns ($11,600)
From one 24-year-old to another, Burns has the ideal game to make him an intriguing play at Corales. Last season he ranked 16th in SG: Off-the-Tee and eighth in driving distance, while also finishing top-30 in both SG: Putting and three-putt avoidance. Burns should be able to attack some of the longer holes with relative ease, increasing his potential scoring opportunities. He opened the season with a T7 at the Safeway Open as well.
Mackenzie Hughes ($11,500)
Hughes is the only player that made the TOUR Championship last season that is in the field this week. He will have added incentive after coming up just one shot shy in this even back in 2019. The Canadian's putter alone makes him hard to pass up at Corales. Last season Hughes ranked eighth in SG: Putting, ninth in putting average, and 18th in three-putt avoidance. He closed in the playoffs with three straight top-15 finishes.
Denny McCarthy ($10,500)
Speaking of putting, nobody gained more strokes per round on the greens last season than McCarthy. That was a big reason why he ended up 13th in birdie average as well. McCarthy finished last season by making each of his last six cuts and has done well in two tries at Corales, finishing solo fourth back in 2018 and boasting a 69.38 scoring average.
Longer Shots with Value
Brian Stuard ($9,900)
Stuard got off to a hot start to the season with a T3 finish a couple weeks ago at the Safeway Open. He tends to play his best golf early in the season with weaker fields. Last season he ranked 41st in proximity to the hole, 23rd in putts per round, and 12th in three-putt avoidance. All of those will be key stats this week at Corales.
Thomas Detry ($9,900)
Detry was a player I was intrigued by for the U.S. Open last week. While he only ended up finishing T49, I think on a much easier course with a much less threatening field he can shine. Since the return to tournament play on the European Tour, the Belgian has two runner-ups and a T8. Detry ranks 15th in GIR percentage, 21st in putts per GIR, and third in overall stroke average on the European Tour this season.
Xinjun Zhang ($9,500)
Zhang was up-and down last season, but statistically he was positive in all strokes gained categories. He ended up racking up career-highs in top-10's (3) and top-25's (7). Zhang owns top-15 finishes in three of his last six starts, including a T14 at the Safeway two weeks ago. The 33-year-old finished top-five in his only start in Corales back in 2018.
Will Gordon ($8,400)
I'm a big believer in Gordon's talent, and I think he has the highest upside of anyone under $9,000 this week. The Vanderbilt product made only 11 starts last season, but made seven cuts and notched a pair of top-10s along with five top-30 finishes. Gordon ranked 14th in SG: Off-the-Tee, fourth in GIR percentage, 33rd in proximity, and 25th in birdie average. His length should give him a big advantage around this course.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
With very little depth in this field, you're going to have to throw at least one dart most likely. In a week like this, I'd just try to find cheaper players who made a good percentage of cuts last season, as 72 holes for all six players will increase your overall upside no matter where they end up finishing. There's nobody that I would rule out immediately at this course, but if they struggle on the greens that would give me pause for concern here, and likely will be the reason that I will fade the top-priced guy in Corey Conners. Other players not mentioned above that I thought about including would be Kristoffer Ventura ($10,600), Sepp Straka ($10,200), Keith Mitchell ($8,900), and Seamus Power ($8,200).