Sometimes during the World Golf Championship events the rest of the golfing world just has to have a week off and watch but at others the PGA Tour puts on an alternate event. It’s the latter this week as some of the Tour’s lesser lights take part in the Puerto Rico Open. This is clearly not the most prestigious event in the world but there is an eclectic mix of players in the field and around the beautiful Coco Beach golf course it’s all set up well.
Alex Cejka had to come through a five way playoff to win this title last year and he’ll be back to defend his title. Although the course has undergone a rebranding with any mention of Donald Trump removed, the Coco Beach course remains the same. It still measures around 7,500 yards which is still more than enough distance to make scoring difficult but distance is not the layout’s only defence. There are trees around the fairways and some natural water hazards which come into play during many of the difficult long approaches. The island winds will also cause the players an issue so we could be looking at a winning score of no better than the -7 that got players into the playoff last year.
These alternate events are always full of young prospects looking to win their first PGA Tour event. Current world number one Jordan Spieth got a great deal of his grounding in the game from them and he’s actually played the Puerto Rico Open. Every young player in the world would love to emulate Spieth but Tony Finau is a player who many in the game believe could actually go on and claim numerous PGA Tour titles. The big hitting American just needs to win that first event so that he gets an understanding of the challenges of winning at this could be cracking place for him to start. If he settles in and plays his own game he has the class to win in this company at odds of 50/1 with BetVictor.
Ian Poulter missed out on a spot at the WGC event by one spot which would be agonising for any player but he has decided to put the work in instead of moaning. Poulter is a multiple champion on the PGA and European Tours but he understands how important it is for him to now to fight for his future. The Englishman sees himself competing for major championships still and a win this week at 33/1 with Betfred would be a huge boost to his confidence.
Thomas Aiken is much better known in his native South Africa than in America but he is an incredibly solid golfer. He forms a solid team with his wife on his bag and he should be quietly confident of his chances. The only pressure on his shoulders will be that which he creates for himself so if he manages to remain calm and goes about his business like he does on the Sunshine Tour he can bag his first PGA Tour title at huge odds of 125/1 with Ladbrokes.