The Puerto Rico Open is being played opposite a full-field PGA Tour event for the first time, leading to a depleted field and names that you usually don’t see atop the odds board.
Many of the world’s top golfers are taking part in the Arnold Palmer Invitational this weekend, which has a 120-golfer field. Opposite events are typically held against smaller-field WGC events and have a greater number of remaining golfers to choose from (like the event in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic later this month that’s opposite the WGC Match Play event).
While the winner of this event will get just 300 FedEx Cup points as opposed to the usual 500 (and full winner’s perks like a berth into the Masters also aren’t at stake), it still counts as a PGA Tour win and helps golfers’ playoff hopes by placing well in these secondary events.
Tournaments have been held in Puerto Rico on and off dating back to the 1960s, but the history of this event dates back to 2008. Michael Bradley is the only two-time winner, and Viktor Hovland (2020) and Tony Finau (2016) are the most well-known winners. Bradnen Grace is the most-recent champion, shooting a 19-under 269 last year to beat out Jhonattan Vegas by one stroke last year. But Grace will be in Orlando for the API and will not be defending his title here.
The event is held at in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, at the Grand Reserve Golf Club on the Championship Course. It was designed by Tom Kite and is a par-72, 7,506-yard course, so length is a factor—especially on two par-5 holes that measure in at over 600 yards, and being an island course, wind is also often a factor. In addition, rain and thunderstorms are also in the forecast this weekend.
The course record is held by Chesson Hadley, who won this event at a 21-under 267 in 2014.
The Puerto Rico Open would be the perfect event for a rookie to win, and a rookie is one of the co-favorites. Matthias Schwab, who finished tied for seventh at The Honda Classic last weekend, is at +1800. If he were to win, he would be the second Austrian-born golfer to win on the PGA Tour after Sepp Straka did it last week at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.
Schwab got on the PGA Tour this year by finishing in the top 50 in the Korn Ferry Tour last year, where he finished eighth at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship. He’s looking for his first professional win of any kind, as he has a runner-up finish on the DP World Tour and was in the top-five twice in the 2020 PGA Tour season, including a third at the Barracuda Championship and a fourth at the WGC-HSBC Champions in just his second-ever start on the tour.
Chad Ramey, despite missing the cut in six of his last seven events, is the other co-favorite at +1800. Ramey had two good showings in the fall, finishing 14th at the Shriners Children’s Open and 17th in his next start at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. He was fourth on the Korn Ferry Tour last year, notching a win at the Live and Work in Maine Open.
Hasn’t played on the PGA Tour this season but does have some history in this event, coming in 10th in his last effort at Grand Reserve in 2015 and was 24th the year before that. Cabrera Bello also won in his home country of Spain on the DP World Tour last fall and finished second in Abu Dhabi in an event on that tour in January.
Broke a streak of five missed cuts with a 55th last week at The Honda Classic, and his tournament could’ve been even better without a 78 that he shot in the third round. He opened that event with a 67 and closed with a 68.
It’s been 10 years since he won on the PGA Tour, doing so at Mayakoba in Mexico, but he did come in ninth last week at The Honda Classic and has two other top-15 finishes this season.
Speaking of strong finishes last week, Kurt Kitayama led The Honda Classic after the opening around and finished in a career-best third place in a PGA Tour event after missing the cut in five-straight events. Kitayama played in this event last year and finished 17th, so he does have some history here along with the momentum of a strong finish last week.
Has made just four cuts in 11 tries this year with a best finish of 50th, but Grand Reserve is definitely one of his stronger courses. He’s made the cut all five times he’s played here, and he was fifth in last year’s event after closing out the tournament with a 65.
Was a winner here way back in 2013 and is a staple here, holding down second place on the all-time earnings list at this event. His only made cut in three events this season was a 39th at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, and he was eighth in a Korn Ferry Tour event in the Bahamas in January, so the island courses definitely suit his style. In addition to the win nine years ago, Brown has two fifth-place finishes here and a 10th in 2019.
Schwab and Kitayama, based on last week’s performances, are worth a wager, and we also like Cabrera Bello based on his strong play since last October. He also deals with much stronger fields on a regular basis on the DP World Tour, and he’s had a bit of a career resurgence over the last six months.
|GOLFERS||ODDS TO WIN 2022 PUERTO RICO OPEN|
|Rafa Cabrera Bello||+2000|
|Kurt Kitayama / Victor Perez / Dylan Wu / Bronson Burgoon||+3000|