The Confidence Factor: Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship

Let’s get to it.

2018 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship

The Dominican Republic plays host to its first-ever PGA TOUR event this week as it is the site of the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. This event is being held opposite the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play at the Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas. Gamers will need to remember this event was played the last two years on the Web.com Tour. While the event will be “new” to multiple TOUR players, there are plenty who have seen this track in tournament conditions before. The field of 132 this year consists of 39 players who teed it up last year and 27 from the year before and includes 13 who have played both events.

Playing at 7,670 yards to a par-72 layout, this Tom Fazio design encompasses coralina quarries, inland lakes while also having six holes bordering the Caribbean Sea. The track will play two yards longer than it has the previous two editions. The damage from two hurricanes which hit the region in September affected the course. Four holes, Nos. 7, 8, 9 and 18 were submerged while Nos. 8 and 9 were completely wiped out by the storm surges. The holes have all been rebuilt and are ready to go this week. The first edition was played at the end of May and early June while the 2017 edition was played the first week in May. A move to March could bring more weather into the equation. Dominic Bozzelli set the tournament record 260 during the inaugural Web.com Tour event in 2016. The course record was also set that year as Stephan Jaeger, “Mr. 58” on the Web.com Tour, was one of THREE players to post 62. Jim Furyk, “Mr. 58” on the PGA TOUR is also in this week’s field. Nate Lashley posted 20-under-par to win by a shot last year.

 STAT                                              WINNERS
Nate Lashley (2017) Dominic Bozzelli (2016)
Total Birdies 22 22
Total Eagles 0 3 (T1)
Par Breakers T7 T4
Bogeys 2 4
Par-3 Scoring T1 T13
Par-4 Scoring T6 T1
Par-5 Scoring T34 T2

 

Last year Lashley didn’t threaten Bozzelli’s tournament record but he reinforced that par breakers continue to be the requirement. He spotted the leader five shots after Round 1 but he played the final 54 holes in 18-under-par. He still found himself two shots off the lead on Sunday before firing 66 to claim the one-shot victory. His 66 was just one shot off the lowest round of the day and reinforces the point that there are no rounds off on this track. The top 29 posted ONE round at par and ONE round above par. The top 48 players were double-digits under-par and the cut was five-under-par.

In the inaugural event Bozzelli shared the 54-hole lead with Blake Adams. The youngster ran past the veteran by four shots in the final group to win comfortably by four shots. His 69-63 first two round was four shots off Jaeger’s 16-under-par lead. There were three 62s, a pair of 63s and EIGHT rounds of 64 on the week. So much for beginner’s luck! The players in the top 25 posted two rounds at par and two rounds above par while the top 54 players were double-digits under-par. The cut was six-under so bogeys or others need not apply!

NOTE: Golfers inside the top 50 in each statistic on the 2016-17 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete in the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship

* – Finished inside the top 50 at Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship since 2016.

Greens in Regulation
Rank Golfer

1 Martin Flores
9 Robert Garrigus
32 Harold Varner III
35 Shawn Stefani
36 *Richy Werenski
37 Ryan Brehm
39 Rory Sabbatini

Par Breakers
Rank Golfer

11 Scott Piercy
15 Robert Garrigus
26 Rory Sabbatini
30 *Trey Mullinax
36 J.T. Poston
47 *Seamus Power

Putting: Birdie-or-Better Percentage
Rank Golfer

10 Matt Every
19 Scott Piercy
26 J.T. Poston
28 *Trey Mullinax
31 Graeme McDowell
35 Robert Garrigus
36 Derek Fathauer
40 Rory Sabbatini
41 Cody Gribble
46 Smylie Kaufman

Bogey Avoidance
Rank Golfer

20 Martin Flores
23 *Seamus Power
33 *Richy Werenski
37 Jim Furyk
49 Shawn Stefani

Proximity
Rank Golfer

9 Jim Furyk
20 Robert Garrigus
20 Scott Piercy
20 Johnson Wagner
24 Rory Sabbatini
30 Ken Duke
30 *Richy Werenski
33 David Hearn
36 Retief Goosen
41 Emiliano Grillo

 

Even with the expanded metrics above, there aren’t many who jump off the page. I’ll be looking for those with experience going low and doing so on resort courses. The paspalum grass will be familiar to those who have played the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, CIMB Classic and Kiawah Island, to name a few. It’s notoriously spongy and plays slower than it looks so experience at those events won’t hurt. As with most resort tracks, the rough won’t be up and neither will the speed of the greens. If there is going to be any defense this week, it will be the wind and the greens can’t run much quicker than the standard 11 feet. Sure, this place almost 7,770 yards but so was the U.S. Open at Erin Hills and 16-under-par won that event.

As you can see by the scores in the previous two years, if there isn’t much wind, double digits will be required to hit the top 40. Signing for rounds at or above par will give those players plenty of time to enjoy the beach and the rest of the amenities. Without much rough, GIR must be a requirement this week as will be holing putts for scores better than par. Saving par must be the exception, not the rule, as the winning totals have shown gamers.

The TOUR players who haven’t seen this track in tournament action will be quick studies so I’m not putting a ton of stock in those who have played here before. Birdie-fests are wide open, I get that, but the better players tend to make more of them!

Course Ratings (Web.com Tour):

2016: second-easiest course of 26 played; -2.326 strokes below par.
2017: seventh-easiest course of 28 played; -1.664 strokes below par.

Rob Bolton’s Power Rankings will give you more juice for the week so make sure you stop by. It’s also who I trust with the weather each week so pay attention!

CONFIDENCE MEN
Selected golfers with multiple cuts made sorted by rank on the tournament’s money list.
Rank Player Cuts Made/Starts Top 10s Best Finish
T1 Nate Lashley 1/1 1 Win (2017)
3 Augusto Nunez 1/1 1 2 (2017)
4 Sam Ryder 2/2 1 T2 (2016)
6 Roberto Diaz 1/2 1 T2 (2016)
7 Tyler Duncan 2/2 1 T3 (2017)
8 Rafael Campos 1/2 1 T3 (2017)
BUILDING CONFIDENCE
Player Cuts Made/Starts Top 25s Best Finish
Richard S. Johnson 1/1 1 T8 (2017)
Matt Adkins 1/2 1 T12 (2017)
Adam Schenk 2/2 1 T12 (2017)
Zecheng Dou 1/1 1 T16 (2017)
Eric Axley 2/2 2 T16 (2017)
Ethan Tracy 1/1 1 T16 (2017)
Seamus Power 1/1 1 T7 (2016)
Joel Dahmen 1/1 1 T11 (2016)
Stephan Jaeger 1/2 1 T11 (2016)
Trey Mullinax 1/1 1 T11 (2016)
Kevin Tway 1/1 1 T11 (2016)
OTHER SIGNS OF CONFIDENCE
Player Cuts Made/Starts 2017 2016
John Merrick 2/2 T41 T33
Richy Werenski 1/1 T33
Ryan Brehm 1/1 T41
Kyle Thompson 1/2 MC T41
Santiago Rivas 1/1 T51
J.T. Poston 1/1 T55
John Rollins 1/1 68th
Jack Maguire 1/2 T25 MC
Jonathan Byrd 1/1 T30
Abraham Ancer 1/1 T41
Daniel Chopra 1/1 T53
Corey Conners 1/1 T53
Rob Oppenheim 1/1 T53
Willy Pumarol 1/1 69
2017 MC 2016 MC
Brice Garnet Martin Flores
Lanto Griffin Keith Mitchell
Parker McLachlin Greg Chalmers
D.J. Trahan Len Mattiace
Xinjun Zhang
Shaun Micheel 2017-16 MC
Robert Allenby Hiram Silfa
Marc Turnesa Andrew Yun
Julio Santos Vince India
Tommy Gainey
Dicky Pride
George Riley
Robert Gamez
Tom Lovelady (DQ)
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