While most of the top 60 players in the world are teeing it up in a WGC event in Florida, the alternate PGA TOUR stop this week is the Puerto Rico Open. It’s contested on the par 72 Cocoa Beach Golf Course at the Grand Reserve Country Club in Rio Grande.
The purse of $3 million purse is below normal PGA TOUR events, the winner’s 300 FedEx Cup points. There is no Masters Tournament invitation on the line, but the champion is awarded a two-year PGA TOUR exemption, a big deal to players struggling to keep their playing privileges.
Last year’s champion was Viktor Hovland, who has since won the Mayakoba Golf Classic and is in Florida instead of defending his Puerto Rico title. If Hovland’s potential is even close to being realized in the future, it will be a long time before he plays again in the event.
The betting odds favorite this week is Thomas Pieters from Belgium at +1400. He’s followed by Emiliano Grillo at +1600 and 45-year-old three-time Tour winner Ian Poulter at +1800. The Englishman is joined at those odds by 30-year-old countryman Matt Wallace.
Andrew Putnam has made four cuts in a row and is a combined 12 under par on his last three Sunday rounds. He has one PGA TOUR win to his credit, the 2018 Barracuda Championship.
Underdogs to Bet in PR
In a field virtually full of underdogs, it’s not that easy to identify three that stand out as possible winners. One of last week’s picks, +7000 longshot Max Homa, went on to a playoff win over Tony Finau at the Genesis Invitational, as did Daniel Berger at +4000 a week earlier in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Andrew Putnam has made four cuts in a row and is a combined 12 under par on his last three Sunday rounds. He has one PGA TOUR win to his credit, the 2018 Barracuda Championship. The 32-year-old out of Pepperdine is trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2020 when he dropped to 147th in the FedEx Cup.
Recently he’s shown flashes of his 2019 form when he finished 34th on TOUR behind three top-ten finishes, including a second and a third. He’s listed with odds of +2200 and is making his first appearance at the Puerto Rico Open.
Three-time PGA TOUR winner and 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover has struggled to regain his past form. He’s on the right track and is currently 109th in the FedEx Cup standings with odds of +3500. The 41-year-old Clemson grad finished in a fifth-place tie at the Mayakoba Golf Classic but stumbled to a five-over 76 in his second round last week and missed the cut.
A great story would be for three-time major champion and current Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington to make a run in Puerto Rico. He hasn’t shown anything that would make anyone believe that he could contend this week, but who doesn’t love it when a 49-year-old makes an appearance on the leaderboard of a PGA TOUR event? At +8000 odds, he’s probably a little overpriced, but his name and reputation still count for something. He is definitely one to watch!