The Palmetto Championship at Congaree is a one-time replacement for the RBC Canadian Open, as lingering concerns tied to the U.S.-Canada border and ongoing COVID-19 challenges made it too difficult to host Canada’s national open for the second year in a row.
Reigning FedExCup champion and South Carolina native Dustin Johnson leads the field along with fellow major winners Danny Willett, Jason Dufner, and Padraig Harrington.
Meanwhile, former No.1-ranked amateur in the world, Davis Thompson, is also making his first professional Tour start along with Ben Hogan Award winner, John Pak, who will be making his professional debut.
Course: Congaree Golf Club
Length: 7,655yards (Par 71)
Architect: Tom Fazio
For the second straight year, the historic Canadian open (the third-oldest national open in history) has been cancelled due to Covid 19 and while last years saw the championship be added as an extra event at Muirfield Village we will this year get the first glimpse off Congaree a new Tom Fazio designed course in South Carolina.
Unfortunately, we won’t get to see a lot of the best play here as the U.S Open looms large next week but the field isn’t without star power with DJ, Koepka and Hatton all ranked in the top eleven in the world teeing it up this week.
Congaree is a long par 71 with wide fairways surrounded by large sandy waste areas like what we saw at the PGA Championship a few weeks ago. Some of the fairways play narrower as trees block the approach to greens or at the very least to some hole locations.
There is a real case to be made that the course has a lot of similarities to sandbelt courses in Australia and Heathland courses in the U.K.
The greens are large Bermuda grass green that is protected by drastic shaved run-off areas, waste bunkers and a lot of water, with the greens often sloping towards the water so the players will have to control the type of approach shots they hit.
With all three of the par 3s clocking in over 200 yards and six of the par 4s measuring a minimum of 450 yards with three of them being over 500 yards this is yet again a place where long irons will be an important ingredient of the winning formula.
This feels to me like a course where length will be important but even more essential will be a good short game since everyone will miss greens on this seemingly tough test.
Still with some rain to soften the course up and little to no wind in the forecast I can see the winning score being in the low teens under par.
Here are some of the things I will be looking at/for:
- Strokes gained approach
- Long irons
- Par 4 scoring
- Bermuda putting
- Around the green
- Strokes gained off the tee
Wagered: +35.61 units
Wagered: 251 units
Won: 418.67 units
Result: 167.67 units
Waste Management: Brooks Koepka 41-1, Genesis Invitational: Max Homa 56-1, The Players Championship: Justin Thomas 19-1, Valero Texas Open: Jordan Spieth 11-1
With DJ seemingly completely out of form and Brooks probably just here for a quick tune-up before next week’s major there is a real case for Hatton having as good a chance as anyone of winning this week.
The course should set up well for a guy that has not only grown up playing a lot of Heathland golf but also has wins at if not identical layouts at least similar ones.
While his form has been a little underwhelming for a guy of his standard since his win in Abu Dhabi early in the year there has been some positives sign as of late with him figuring out the around the green game which plagued him for a couple of months.
If we dig deeper into the stats that I think will matter the most this week we find even more positives with the Englishman ranking 1st in proximity from over 200 yards, 5th in approach, 7th in par 4 scoring and 14th in strokes gained off the tee over the past 24 rounds.
While the South African is still fresh on PGA Tour he did make the cut in his debut at the PGA Championship and if you look past DJ and Koepka this field looks much more like a European tour field than a PGA one and Higgo has won three of those over the past year.
It’s hard to know if he is a player who is just going to beat up on weaker Euro tour fields or if he is a superstar in the making, I lean towards the latter and if that is the case, we are not only getting tremendous value on him, this also seems like a natural place for him to take that next step towards becoming a top 20 player in the world.
The few stats we do get from his play on the European tour also seems to hint at this course being a good fit as he ranks 17th in driving distance, 20th in sand saves and 37th in greens in regulation all this on top of seemingly being a first-class putter ranking 4th in the somewhat flawed stat putts per green.
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