While the game’s elite are off the Florida for the WGC tournament, we’re going to focus on the PGA event. The Puerto Rico Open usually offers plenty of value, so let’s check it out.
Puerto Rico Open: The tournament
By PGA Tour standards, this is a relatively new tournament on the schedule. It was first held in 2008. It’s current place on the rotation puts it opposite the WGC event and, as such, this week’s field is made up of the also-rans off the main tour, numerous Europeans and a number of newcomers from the Korn Ferry Tour. In other words, the quality of this line-up is almost the polar opposite of the stellar contest we’ll see in Florida. However, for all the players lining up this week the tournament represents a great opportunity to bag a win on the main tour, with all the trappings – ranking points, prize-money, exemptions. So make no mistake, the competition will be mighty fierce this week in the Caribbean.
Puerto Rico Open: The course
This week’s course is the Coco Beach Golf and Country Club, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. It’s a composite course made up of several previous 9-hole layouts, designed by Tom Kite in 2004. The current set-up is a 7,506-yard par 72. Coco Beach has fallen foul of tropical storms in recent years (causing a cancellation in 2018) but is now back to tournament standard. The facility, located in the foothills of the El Yunque Rainforest, will test the players with numerous bunkers and water hazards.
267: Chesson Hadley (2014)
63: JJ Henry & Trey Mullinax (2017)
Puerto Rico Open: Past winners
2020: Viktor Hovland
2019: Martin Trainer
2017: DA Points
2016: Tony Finau
Puerto Rico Open: The field
A standard PGA Tour field this week with 150+ in the line-up. Thomas Pieters is the $15 favourite with TopSport.
Puerto Rico Open: The weather
The week looks dry with the highest chance of rain being no more than 10% on any of the four days. Temperatures will be slightly under the seasonal average, with the mercury topping out at the 70 degree mark (F). But the wind will blow this week, reaching 15-20mph over the first three days, before Sunday’s calmer conditions prevail.
Puerto Rico Open: Value bets
These are two value bets from the Golf Insider. Members receive all of his best bets for all markets – win and each-way, Top 10, Top 20, Round 1 Leader and 3-Ball groups. He covers every tournament on the PGA and European Tours.
Sam Ryder [each way] (currently $41 with TopSport)
Ryder comes out well on my model this week, and it’s easy to see why. His form prior to missing the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach was very good, when compared to his peers this week. He finished 47th at the Amex Championship, then a superb 10th at the Farmers Insurance Open, followed by 57th at the Phoenix Open. What really catches the eye is the fact he ranked first in approach play at Torrey Pines, and fifth from tee-to-green against an elite field that week. The field this week is about as poor as you’ll get for a PGA Tour event, with all the top guns playing in Florida. Ryder finished third in this event last year on debut, and looks an obvious choice this week given some of his recent performances relative to this field. His ball-striking can be superb, like we saw at the Farmers Insurance Open, and he’ll be targeting this type of event to land his maiden title. At around 40/1+ I make him a solid each-way bet this week.
Rob Oppenheim [Top 20] (currently $4 with TopSport)
Oppenheim recently stated in an interview that he’s playing some of the best golf of his career, even if the results don’t quite reflect this. These words were spoken before the Pebble Beach event, where he finished 39th. Oppenheim has some solid results to his name this season, with 27th at the Shriners Open the best of the lot. What’s most impressive are his approach play numbers this season. He ranked seventh in the field at the Safeway Open, 14th at the Shriners, and first in the field at the Amex Championship. These are elite figures by top PGA Tour standards and, with this kind of approach play, I am surprised Oppenheim hasn’t had some better finishes – but, that said, if he maintains this level of ball-striking, it’s only a matter of time before the tide turns. He like many others, seems to thrive in these lesser events, when they know they have a realistic chance of winning, so it’s no surprise that his best finish last season came at this very event, when he finished ninth. He’s good value and must be taken.
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