Puerto Rico Open PGA Preview
PUERTO RICO OPEN PGA PREVIEW - If you aren’t an elite Tour player and you have some sort of status to be eligible in events, you’re likely headed to Pueeeerto Rico this week.
I’m probably as fired up for this as I am for the API because this feels exactly like the sort of stupid tournament I can win after weeks of abject failures. My hero, Erik Van Rooyen, whom I bet last week only to watch him finish last in a tie for 147th, headlines the field, so read no further if you’re looking to actually enjoy watching this tournament.
Grand Reserve Golf Club in Canovanas, Puerto Rico is long. That’s basically its defining feature.
It plays to a par 72 and measures out at around 7,500 yards. A lot of that yardage is accounted for by two lengthy par-fives which measure over 600 yards, but this place definitely isn’t a pitch-and-putt.
The rough is typically pretty light and the fairways and greens can accurately be described as generous.
The only real challenge on this course, aside from some length, is the fact that it’s basically always windy in Puerto Rico (I can attest, having played one of the windiest rounds of golf in my life on that island).
Last year, -20 was the winning score, so guys can generally score pretty well here if the weather cooperates even modestly.
Like I said in the intro, EVR (+2800) headlines the field with his world ranking of 120 being far and away the highest of anyone competing in this field.
This event is known as a stepping stone type of tournament. Hovland and Finau both won here early in their careers to catapult them into PGA stars.
Akshay Bhatia (+2500) is probably the most interesting of the players, as a highly touted amateur who hasn’t quite found the level of success many expected in his young professional career. Also he took his shirt off twice in the last tourney he played and showed off his phenomenal golf-bod and tan.
Akshay Bhatia ditches the shirt while playing his escape shot from the mud on 15. 😂
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) February 25, 2023
Aside from those two, this field is mostly rookies, Korn Ferry guys with limited Tour status, or guys playing on fringe-y eligibility like past champion status. In short, young guys and washed old guys. That’s this field. Have I sold it enough yet?
Putting it all together
This course is basically a bombers’ paradise. Long hitters tend to do well here because there are very few obstacles off the box, so they can let it rip.
With that in mind, I gravitate towards guys like Bhatia who smoke it off the tee.
Do not bet the plodders on this course. They simply don’t have the firepower to get it done. There are weeks where you can bet on a washed older player to pop up and have a good result, but this isn’t the place for that. Focus on young bombers.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more analysis on some of the guys I like.
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