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Corales Puntacana 2020 DFS expert picks: The best putter on tour might not be who you think

September 22, 2020

Denny McCarthy lines up a putt during the final round of the 2020 3M Open. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Stacy Revere

Sure, this isn’t the type of major week with the world’s best players in the field like we had at Winged Foot. But the Corales Puntacana Championship has been elevated to full tour status for the first time after two years as an alternate-field event (and a Korn Ferry Tour event for two years before that). The field might be much weaker than usual, but these are the weeks that benefit those of us who dive deep into the research.

Here are our favorite plays—from upside to value and safest—plus players likely to disappoint for your DFS lineups this week.

Price range: $9,000+

High Upside: Sam Burns ($10,100 DraftKings | $11,600 FanDuel)

The last time we saw Burns, he was fading on the weekend at the Safeway Open but still ended up in a tie for seventh. Add that finish to his T-13 at the Wyndham Championship, and he has two top-15 finishes in his past three starts. Burns is an absolute bomber off-the-tee, ranking eighth in driving distance last season—and he was also a top-30 putter. That’s a rare combination of skills that should allow Burns to contend in this weaker field.

Safest Option: Mackenzie Hughes ($10,300 DraftKings | $11,500 FanDuel)

Missing the cut at the U.S. Open might end up being a benefit for Hughes, who didn’t have to face the grueling conditions at Winged Foot on the weekend. Prior to last week, Hughes was rolling with three consecutive top-15 finishes in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Many expect this week to turn into a birdie-fest, which usually means it’s a putting contest. Hughes is an excellent putter who finished runner-up here last year.

Most Likely To Disappoint: Will Zalatoris ($10,900 DraftKings | $11,800 FanDuel)

Let me be very clear about this, I love Zalatoris. I’m on the record stating that he will take a similar path from the Korn Ferry Tour as Scottie Scheffler and Sungjae Im. I believe he will be the tour’s Rookie of the Year when he gains status, and he could arguably be a top-50 player in the world right now. However, rostering a nearly $11,000 player with almost zero PGA Tour experience when he might be the most popular golfer on the slate is a recipe for disaster. Golf is a fickle game, and it’s asking a lot of Zalatoris to be the best player in the Dominican Republic after battling Winged Foot for four days—despite his T-6 there.

Pick To Win: Denny McCarthy ($9,600 DraftKings | $10,500 FanDuel)

Something is changing for McCarthy right now, who is well known for his putting prowess. He’s won the strokes gained/putting crown on the PGA Tour for two consecutive seasons, but he’s starting to figure out the rest of his game as well. Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, only two other golfers in this field have averaged more strokes gained on approach than McCarthy since the 3M Open (minimum of 10 rounds played). If the rest of his game can just be tour average, he’s going to make a lot of noise in events like this. He’s two-for-two on making the weekend at Corales, with a solo fourth two years ago and a T-26 last year.

$8,000 to $9,000

High Upside: Xinjun Zhang ($8,400 DraftKings | $9,500 FanDuel)

Zhang is certainly a disciple of Ricky Bobby’s motto: “if you ain’t first, you’re last.” Zhang has made the cut in only three of his past nine events, but he has finished inside the top 15 each time he made the weekend. His most recent start, a T-14 at the Safeway Open, was highlighted by an excellent ball-striking week. He finished 12th in strokes gained/approach for the week. His T-14 at the Puerto Rico Open, the only other event to boast paspalum greens, is just a cherry on top of this high-risk/high-reward sundae.

The Honda Classic - Round Two

Matt Sullivan

Safest Option: Adam Schenk ($8,500 DraftKings | $10,700 FanDuel)

Schenk might not offer much upside, but for what he lacks in that facet, he offers in consistency. He hasn't had a top-10 finish since July 2019 at the John Deere Classic, but he has made the cut in six consecutive starts dating back to the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He ranked 75th in strokes gained/overall last season while gaining strokes in three of the four major categories. The weaker the field, the more viable Schenk becomes, so expect to see him on the weekend again at Corales.

Most Likely To Disappoint: Charley Hoffman ($8,900 DraftKings |$10,300 FanDuel)

I could see Charley Hoffman catching steam this week as a, somewhat, household name a handful of top 25s recently. Hoffman finished -13 at the Northern Trust, along with a T25 at the Barracuda Championship and a T-7 at the Workday Charity Open. My issue is more with how he’s been doing it. His iron game specifically has been sporadic. He gained over four strokes on approach at the Workday Charity Open, then lost 5.8 in his next start, then gained 6.18 a few weeks after that. There is just no consistency in one of the most important aspects of the game.

Pick To Win: Patrick Rodgers ($8,000 DraftKings | $9,300 FanDuel)

Distance off the tee is not a prerequisite for success at Corales, but it certainly helps. Rodgers was 18th on tour in driving distance last season, meaning he should be able to chew up big portions of this 7,600-yard design. Many big hitters don’t possess the putting stroke that Rodgers does, ranking him 11th in strokes gained/putting on tour last season. If this event turns into a birdie-fest and a putting contest, Rodgers is well-equipped to contend.

$7,000 to $8,000

High Upside: Doug Ghim ($7,300 DraftKings | $9,400 FanDuel)

Ghim plays with great passion but passion alone doesn’t help you on the PGA Tour. Luckily, Ghim has plenty of game to go along with it. He’s finished in the top 20 in two of his past four starts (T-14 at the Safeway and T-18 at the 3M Open). Of golfers with a minimum of 10 measured rounds, Ghim ranks fifth in this field in strokes gained since the PGA Tour restart. This will be his second career start on paspalum greens, finishing T-20 at this year’s Puerto Rico Open.


Chris Baker hits a bunker shot during the first round of the Wyndham Championship on Aug. 13, 2020. (Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire

Safest Option: Chris Baker ($7,500 DraftKings | $9,500 FanDuel)

Baker missed the cut at the Safeway Open but was on a run of four consecutive weekends, including a 20th-place finish at the Wyndham Championship. His style of play is very projectable, as he’s one of the better ball-strikers in this field. Over his last five measured events, he’s gained a total of 16.93 strokes on approach. He’ll need to improve his short-game if he wants to find regular success on the PGA Tour, but that around-the-green game becomes less important at resort courses like we will see this week.

Most Likely To Disappoint: Graeme McDowell ($7,800 DraftKings |$9,000 FanDuel)

A likable defending champion like McDowell will almost always get a bump, but it’s not warranted in this situation. Since the restart, McDowell has lost 1.47 strokes on average to the field over his 22 rounds. Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, that is the worst of any golfer in this field priced over $6,500. The name value and defending champion status alone has landed his price about $1,000 more than it should be listed. He’s missed seven of his last nine cuts and hasn’t seriously contended anywhere in the world since February.

Pick To Win: Will Gordon ($7,600 DraftKings | $8,400 FanDuel)

There’s a case to be made that Gordon is one of the most undervalued golfers on this slate. There isn’t a huge sample size on Gordon, only 16 measured rounds since the tour’s restart, but he’s made four of his past six cuts, including a T-3 at the Travelers Championship. He’s an accomplished collegiate player out of Vanderbilt who was top 20 in driving distance last season, and only three golfers hit more greens in regulation than him.

$6,900 and below


Akshay Bhatia, 18 years old, finished in the top 10 in his last start at the Safeway Open.

Mike Lawrie

High Upside: Akshay Bhatia ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,200 FanDuel)

Bhatia is one of the most talented players in this field. However, that talent, is very raw. He opted to forgo college and turn pro last year. He missed his first seven cuts as a professional until the Safeway Open two weeks ago. He finished T-9 and secured his spot in this event. It was the first time in his career that he gained strokes in all four major strokes-gained categories. He’s only 18 years old, so the results are going to be incredibly volatile, but he’s going to make plenty of noise once everything “clicks” for him.

Safest Option: Michael Gligic ($6,500 DraftKings | $8,000 FanDuel)

There is no “safe” option in the $6,000 range of the Corales Puntacana Championship. There is only one golfer in this range who has made more than two cuts in a row, and it’s Michael Gligic. He’s actually made four in a row dating back to the 3M Open and three of them are top-30 finishes. He finished T-14 at the Safeway Open and will look to build on that momentum. At this price point, finding the weekend would return value.

Most Likely To Disappoint: Kevin Tway ($6,700 DraftKings | $7,800 FanDuel)

Let’s be real here, there’s not a lot of great options in this price range. DFS players are going to look for a reason, any reason, to roster a player and fill out that sixth spot. You might want to pick a name that you recognize, like PGA Tour winner Kevin Tway. But Tway has been struggling for quite some time. He’s missed 11 of his last 12 cuts and only has one top-10 finish since his win at the 2018 Safeway Open. This isn’t much of a hot take, but Tway should not be in your lineups this week.

Pick To Win: D.J. Trahan ($6,600 DraftKings | $8,000 FanDuel)

Let the dart-throwing commence! Trahan is one of the few golfers in this field who have 1) played in both previous editions of this event and 2) made the cut in each. He finished 60th in 2018 and followed it up with a 10th-place finish last year. He might be finding his form coming off a 14th-place finish at the Safeway Open. That’s about the most you can ask for from someone at this price point.

Rick Gehman, founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.