Best bets for the Corales Puntacana Championship and Jonsson Workwear Open

March 21, 2023 04:31 PM

Corales Puntacana Championship

The Corales Puntacana Championship began as a (now Korn Ferry) Tour event in 2016. The event was promoted and transitioned to the PGA Tour event as an alternate event in 2018. It is back to its customary spot in March as the alternate event to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, which only includes the top 64 players and alternates in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR). The event is back to alternate event status, so no Masters invitation going to the winner, but 300 FedEx Cup points and a two-year PGA Tour exemption are on the line this week.

The Course

The Corales Golf Club in Punta Cana is in the La Altagracia province on the southeastern tip of the Dominican Republic. The course was designed in 2010 by Tom Fazio and plays as a par-72 of 7,670 yards and is the third-largest course on tour. It is an easy, flat (a rarity amongst Fazio designs) track with inland and coastal sections. The wind can blow here and keep the scoring somewhat under control, but Corales is very scoreable and there should be plenty of birdies. The portion of the course that is away from the shore has four holes with water hazards. Six holes play along the coast including 16-18, known as "The Devil's Elbow." Supreme Papsalum, which is a turf that is becoming more widely used on courses especially in the south due to its low maintenance and irrigation requirements, is used throughout. The fairways are wide and forgiving and the sticky and smooth greens (6,000 square feet average) roll relatively slow at 11 on the stimpmeter. This course really doesn't favor any player. It is gettable for both bombers and superior ball strikers, but it will largely be decided by who gets hot at the right time with the putter.

The outbound set of nine holes is where some serious scoring is essential. With the longest par-4 measuring 465 yards and two par-5s that measure only 563 yards (4th) and 515 yards (7th), the front side of the course is there for the taking. Indeed, it has averaged 1.09 (2018), 1.07 (2019), 0.95 (2020), 0.66 (2021) and 0.96 (2022) shots below par across the five PGA Tour tournaments hosted here. The inward nine is more stringent with both par-5s playing over 600 yards and the closing Devil’s Elbow putting up far sterner resistance. The back nine played 0.59 over par in 2018, +0.15 in 2019, +0.07 in 202, +0.68 in 2021 and +0.24 in 2022.

Correlated courses include El Camaleon, Grand Reserve, Plantation at Kapalua, Kiawah Island and Vidanta Vallarta.


Recent History/Winners

2022: Chad Ramey (-17/271); 50-1

2021: Joel Dahmen (-12/276); 50-1

2020: Hudson Swafford (-18/270); 200-1

2019: Graeme McDowell (-18/270); 40-1

2018: Brice Garnett (-18/270); 66-1

2017: Nate Lashley (-20/268); 28-1*

2016: Dominic Bozzelli (-24/264); 90-1*

* Events


Ben Martin (30-1, Superbook Sports)

Martin has made four straight cuts including a 5th at the Honda Classic and a 13th at Pebble Beach.

He has performed very well in the alternate events including a 2nd last year and a 9th in 2021. He also has a 3rd (2014) and 14th (2020) in Puerto Rico, plus 20th (2020) at El Camaleon, so he plays well on these Paspalum courses.

Martin ranks 3rd in this field for Strokes Gained: Ball Striking over the last 24 rounds.

Erik van Rooyen (35-1, DraftKings)

EVR posted a top-10 last week at the Valspar ranking 3rd in the field for Strokes Gained: Approach.

He has proven his ability to putt these paspalum surfaces when an excellent 3rd in the Mexico Championship in 2020.

A win in a similar alternate event at the 2021 Barracuda Championship shows further what he can do at this level and he can go in again at another such event this week.

Dylan Wu (50-1, DraftKings)

Wu has made five straight cuts dating back to Pebble Beach headlined by a T-10 at the Honda Classic.

Dylan has also played well in sub-tropical climes on the Korn Ferry Tour. 2020 saw him finish 2nd at the Great Exuma Classic, 18th at Great Abaco Classic – both on Paspalum golf courses in the Bahamas – plus 7th at the Panama Championship.

MJ Daffue (55-1, BetMGM)

Daffue has made four straight cuts including a T-19 at the Valspar last weekend.

He ranks 4th in this field for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee over the last 24 rounds and 3rd in last week's Valspar field.

Andrew Novak (65-1, Caesars Sportsbook)

Novak was 11th here last year.

He finished 27th last week at the Valspar but was 4th in the field for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee.

Cody Gribble (80-1, BetMGM)

Gribble has made four straight cuts including back-to-back 7th place finishes.

In finishing 7th in Puerto Rico, Gribble was the best driver in the field and was also 4th in ball-striking. He replicated a similar performance last week at the Valspar, ranking as the 5th best driver in the field and was a good 25th in approach, though this time adding some quality with the putter, where he ranked 5th.

Trevor Werbylo (150-1, Caesars Sportsbook)

Werbylo has made each of his last six cuts and comes into this off the back of a best-of-the-year effort with a 27th in the Valspar Championship last week.

His 11th for Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green last week was his best ball-striking performance of the season.

Jonsson Workwear Open

In a case of better late than never, 37-year-old Englishman Matthew Baldwin won his first DP World Tour event in his 200th career start on the DPWT. Baldwin, priced at 150-1, ran away from the field in last week's SDC Championship at St. Francis Links in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Baldwin's 18 under was seven strokes better than Adri Arnaus, who finished outright second.

This week the DP World Tour and Sunshine Tour have another co-sanctioned event in South Africa for the Jonsson Workwear Open near Johannesburg.

Jordan Smith (18-1) and Arnaus (20-1) headline the field. Joost Luiten (22-1) has three consecutive top-10 finishes over the last five weeks. South Africans Thriston Lawrence (30-1), Wilco Nienaber (33-1) and Oliver Bekker (35-1) follow in the market.

The Event

This was played as a co-sanctioned event last year between the Sunshine and Challenge Tours but was played at Durban Golf Club and now moves to the Club at Steyn City venue, which hosted the Steyn City Championship on the DPWT in 2022.

The Course

The Club at Steyn City is a Jack Nicklaus design at altitude, meaning that the 7,716-yard par-72 plays significantly shorter than the yardage suggests, bringing it more into line with a regular-length course.

Built on the site of an old quarry, the course makes use of the natural canyons from the location’s heritage and the Jukskei River flows through the layout to offer some protection to what is otherwise a wide, scoreable track laid with Bentgrass greens.

The front nine proved to be easier than the back nine when this course hosted the Steyn City Championship last year, and a different tournament title shouldn’t change that fact with two of the par-5s and a pair of relatively short par-4s presenting birdie (and eagle) opportunities.

The back nine is tougher with five of the nine holes playing over par on aggregate 12 months ago, culminating in the 515-yard par-4 closing hole, which ranked as the hardest hole on the course.

Recent History/Winners

Steyn City Championship

2022: Shaun Norris (-25/263); 90-1


Thriston Lawrence (30-1, BetRivers)

Lawrence, 8th here last year, has plenty of wins of late at altitude including the 2021 Joburg Open and last year at the Omega European Masters and the South African Championship.

Sami Valimaki (50-1, Caesars Sportsbook)

Valimaki, 16th here last year, has enjoyed a fine start to this DPWT season, with two runner-up finishes to his name already. The first of these came here in South Africa at the Joburg Open at the end of last year, with the most recent one coming just three starts ago in the Singapore Classic.

Connor Syme (50-1, DraftKings)

Syme finished T-14 last week at the SDC Championship but led the field for Strokes Gained: Approach.

Jayden Schaper (50-1, Caesars Sportsbook)

Schaper missed the cut last week in the SDC, but he's over double last week's price and his form before last week saw him record consecutive finishes of 17th in Thailand, 13th in India and seventh in Kenya, taking him to six top-20s in nine starts on the DPWT this season.

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