Everyone take a deep breath.
The grind of the U.S. Open is officially behind us, with most players not named Bryson DeChambeau still licking their wounds from a brutal week at Winged Foot. A few have opted to head south and unwind in the Dominican Republic for this week's Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship, although the field is mostly comprised of players the casual fan might struggle to recognize.
Originally scheduled in March, the third-year event was postponed and will now be played twice in a six-month span. While the March 2021 edition will return to its normal slot on the calendar, opposite a WGC event, this week the event offers full FedExCup points and will send the winner to the Masters as a result.
Fresh off a T-6 finish at the U.S. Open, Korn Ferry Tour stud Will Zalatoris is the +1300 betting favorite against a field that includes defending champ Graeme McDowell and former Open winner Henrik Stenson. From picks to win to nationality prop bets worth considering, here's a look at some of the top wagers as the Tour heads to the Caribbean:
To Win (odds via PointsBet Sportsbook)
Sam Burns (+1800): It won't be long before the former LSU standout is a winner on the PGA Tour. Burns has steadily progressed since turning pro three years ago, reaching the playoffs last season for the first time. But his game appears primed for a breakout this week on a course where he has had some success, finishing T-12 a year ago. Burns finished T-13 last month in Greensboro, then held the 36-hole lead two weeks ago in Napa en route to a T-7 result. He's one of the longest hitters on Tour, finishing 16th last season in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee while averaging 312 yards per drive. Gone are the ultra-narrow fairways of Winged Foot, as this week's venue puts a premium on launching the ball off the tee into generous targets. Throw in some strong recent form and a reliable putter (30th last season in SG: Putting) and Burns has all the makings of a strong favorite amid a weak field.
Adam Long (+2200): Long got his breakthrough win in 2019, beating Phil Mickelson in Palm Springs, but it was last season when his game really reached a new level. Long was a runner-up twice on Tour in 2020, including the 3M Open in July, and he went from 154th to 47th in total strokes gained in the process. After missing out on a spot at the Tour Championship by less than a point, he promptly went to Winged Foot and notched a T-13 finish while ranking sixth in GIR percentage. Long was also a runner-up last year at Mayakoba, another tropical oceanside course that utilizes seashore paspalum grass. There's a noticeable correlation between results at both venues, given that McDowell also won at Mayakoba in 2015, and Long might be in position to continue the trend.
Pat Perez (+3000): While the veteran was once ranked as high as 16th in the world, he's now down to No. 159. But all that does is create some value for Perez as one of the top players in a thin field. He's coming off three top-25 finishes in his last five starts, including a T-9 finish last time out in Napa where he had four straight rounds in the 60s. Perez is another player who thrives on paspalum, having won at Mayakoba in 2016 and at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia the following year. While he has battled injury issues in recent years, withdrawing from two starts last month because of foot and ankle woes, he's an absolute threat to compete (and win) this week if the body is cooperating.
Top-10 finishes (odds via PointsBet)
Will Zalatoris (+155): He's clearly one of the best players in the field, and a deserving favorite given his recent hot streak and his performance last week at the U.S. Open, where he led an elite field in SG: Approach. Still, it's a tall task to ask a Korn Ferry regular to win on the PGA Tour, especially in a situation where he'll be one of the favorites from the very first shot. But while Zalatoris may be tough to bet to win at such a short price, there's no denying that the merits of his game should keep him in the mix. He hasn't finished worse than T-19 in 12 starts since returning from the break in June, a run that includes nine top-10 results. Expect him to add to that haul this week.
Emiliano Grillo (+270): The Argentine is rounding back into form of late, with six straight made cuts since July and a run that includes top-10s at both the 3M Open and Barracuda Championship, both of which should have roughly similar fields to what's in store in Punta Cana. Grillo is another player who plays disproportionately well on paspalum grass, having finished T-3 at the Puerto Rico Open earlier this year. Grillo finished 13th on Tour last season in SG: Approach and his often balky putter seems to cooperate more often than not on courses like this one.
Kelly Kraft (+1500): Don't be afraid to take a flier on the former U.S. Amateur champ. Kraft missed all of last season while recovering from hip surgery, but he has made two starts already in his comeback including two weeks ago in Napa. Kraft has an eye for the layout in Punta Cana, having finished third at this event in 2018 and T-5 a year ago. He has made a pattern of missing several cuts in a row and then contending out of nowhere, racking up most of his season-long points in a handful of especially promising results. It wouldn't be a huge surprise if one of those results came this week on a track where he has had great success the last two years.
Nationality Props (odds via PointsBet)
Joohyung "Tom" Kim top South Korean (+120): Get to know the name. Kim is just 18 years old but has been feasting on the Korean pro circuit of late, winning four times in the last two years. This will be his third PGA Tour start in recent weeks, as he also qualified for the PGA and made the cut two weeks ago at the Safeway. Kim's only competition in this prop are K.H. Lee, who hasn't cracked the top 25 since March, and Sangmoon Bae, who has struggled to regain his form since returning from a two-year military stint in 2017. Kim will likely make more U.S. appearances in the coming months, but right now there's still an opportunity to capitalize on his random anonymity - even though he's priced as a (deserved) favorite in what amounts to a three-ball.
Aaron Baddeley top Australian (+350): Baddeley hasn't done much in recent weeks, but as rounds of 72-68 in Napa showed, it's not far off. The veteran tends to over-perform on paspalum layouts like this one, having finished T-7 here a year ago and T-26 at Mayakoba. He won the Barbasol against similar competition back in 2016, and while countrymen Matt Jones (+175) and Cameron Percy (+175) sit ahead of him on the odds sheet, each has offered up uninspiring performances of late. Baddeley seems like a great value play to top the five-man Aussie contingent that also includes longshots Rhein Gibson (+600) and John Senden (+1400).
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