While the best players in the world are competing in the WGC-Cadillac Championship some of the lesser lights of the US PGA Tour have an opportunity to shine in the Puerto Rico Open. This tournament may have a second division feel to it but the winner will still receive a two year exemption for the PGA Tour.
A good week in Puerto Rico could have a positive affect on one player’s career as the winner will be exempt until the end of the 2015 season, which means security for the best part of three years. Last year George McNeil closed with three straight birdies to deny Ryo Ishikawa from Japan and win by two shots.
The event is being played at the Trump International Golf Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. This is a Tom Kite layout with spectacular views of the El Yunque rainforest and the Atlantic Ocean. This is a composite course with holes taken from two 18 hole layouts on the luxury residential and leisure complex.
Steady plodders who are 36 or older have won four of the five Puerto Rico Opens. Plenty of rain has fallen on the course over the last few days so this could be a week when longer hitters enjoy themselves. At 7506 yards the course is about average in length by modern standards but the sodden turf will put a premium on distance over accuracy.
The course contains 18 water hazards so accuracy will still be a factor in order to stay out of trouble. All four previous winners are residents of Florida’s Gulf Coast and live within 130 miles of each other. Course experience will be important on the test of power that includes two par fives over 600 yards in length.
Luke Guthrie has a chance to build on his fine effort at last week’s Honda Classic. However, he was in contention for most of the four days of the event and invested a lot of mental energy in trying to secure his first PGA Tour win.
Patrick Cantlay (pictured) is a proven winner at Web.com Tour level and the Puerto Rico Open is no more than a glorified Web.com event. Cantley was the world’s number one amateur for a record-breaking 55 weeks before turning pro in June last year. The Californian is still not a full member of the Tour but beat the opposition out of sight when stepping down a level last week.
If the consistent but win less Brendon De Jonge is going to record a Tour win it will most likely happen in Puerto Rico. He has the right profile for decent scoring and finished third on this week’s host course in 2010. Pick of the outsiders is Ishikawa, a prolific winner in Japan and a certain future winner on the PGA Tour.