The consolation prize for not qualifying for the WGC-Mexico Championship is the Puerto Rico Open. The second-tier PGA Tour event is played at Coco Beach Golf & Country Club, and gives some lesser-known pros the chance to improve their status, opening the door into more events.
Though most of the golfers in the Puerto Rico Open field aren’t well known, it has seen up and coming stars in the past. Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, and Bryson DeChambeau each finished second in this event before earning their first tour victory.
That could very well be the case again this week. Here’s a look at players we like at the Puerto Rico Open, and those we think gamblers should avoid.
Players to Back
Maverick McNealy 25/1
McNealy has played well so far this year, and this is exactly the type of tournament he could win. Being a second-tier PGA Tour event, the Puerto Rico Open isn’t filled with top golfers, but McNealy has shown he can compete with them. At the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, he finished tied for fifth. The week before, at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, he finished 15th. One stat that jumps out is that McNealy is ninth in birdie average.
Scott Brown 25/1
Brown has two factors we like. He finished tied for 10th at this event last year, shooting rounds of 71, 71, 69, and 68. Another indicator that he could have a good week was his finish Sunday at the Genesis Invitational. Against one of the strongest fields at a regular-season tour event in five years, Brown finished tied for second. It is concerning he missed four cuts in his previous events, but we’re willing to overlook that.
Patrick Rodgers 25/1
Rodgers is 18th in driving distance this year, and on a 7,500-yard golf course, that could be a big advantage. Also, he’s turned in promising performances in three of the four events he’s played this year. He tied for ninth at the Farmers Insurance Open, then followed that result with a tie for 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. His missed the cut at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but did finish tied for 30th at last week’s Genesis Invitational.
Golfers to Avoid
Viktor Hovland 10/1
I’m not sold on the former US Open champion, especially as the favorite for the Puerto Rico Open. Hovland is in his first-full year on the PGA Tour, and is discovering life on the tour is a lot harder than he expected. At his first event in September, Hovland finished tied for 10th. Since then, he’s missed two cuts, and his best finish is a tie for 31st at the CJ Cup in South Korea.
Alex Noren 16/1
The Swede has a startling trend that should be a giant red flag. In his last three PGA Tour starts this year, his most recent finish has been worse than his previous one. Since finishing tied for 14th at The American Express, Noren has finished tied for 32nd at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and tied for 59th at last week’s the Genesis Invitational.
Bill Haas 125/1
The temptation to take a seasoned PGA Tour pro at an event like the Puerto Rico Open can cloud a gambler’s judgment. You see Haas, who has won six times on tour, and figure he should have the experience to overtake the youngsters. The only problem is, Haas has been floundering this year. He’s played three times in 2020 and missed the cut in two of those tournaments. Haas did make the cut in the Farmers Insurance Open and finished tied for 73rd.