It’s a busy week for the PGA Tour. Along with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play going on at Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas, there’s also action happening beginning on Thursday in the Dominican Republic with the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.
Brice Garnett is the defending champ in the Dominican, having defeated recent Honda Classic winner Keith Mitchell by four strokes in the inaugural PGA Tour event one year ago (prior to that, it was a Web.com Tour stop for two years).
How will things unfold this week?
A few of our caddies on the ground might just have the inside track. We asked three of them to give us their picks. To protect their identity, they made their picks anonymously. Here’s who they like…
- Sungjae Im. “He seems to have been high up the leaderboard every week this year at some point or another, including most recently a T4 last week at Valspar and a T3 just before that at Bay Hill. Quite simply, he’s hot! He’ll be tough to beat.”
- Jhonattan Vegas. “He’s been trending in the right direction in his last several starts, culminating with a T3 at the Players against the strongest field of the year. He’ll be ready to strike in the weaker field of Puntacana.”
- Johnson Wagner. “He’s turning the corner with his game. His dedication is back on track and he’s swinging with confidence again. JW has a history of turning things around with big performances in opposite-field events. He’s done it before – the 2011 Mayakoba Classic, which was the same week as Match Play that year – he can do it again. I’d put him as my No. 1 pick if he had grown his mustache back.”
- Sungjae Im. “This rookie is a stud. He’s quietly No. 17 in the FedExCup standings and this week will mark, incredibly, his 17th start already this season. Over that time, he has collected four, top-10 finishes, the best of which was a T3 at Bay Hill, backed up by the T4 last week at Valspar. It’s only a matter of time before he breaks through.”
- Aaron Baddeley. “Aaron last won in 2016 but has shown signs this season that another win might be coming soon. When his putter is on, that’s trouble for the rest of the field. I’m encouraged by his T2 in Puerto Rico – another opposite-field event – late last month, followed by a T17 at Bay Hill that could have been better were it not for a final-round 74.”
- Matt Jones. “The Aussie hasn’t had a great season to this point, but as we all know, one week can turn that all around. He may have figured something out with his swing last week at Valspar. Whatever he did led to a T13, which tied his best finish of the season. That ought to give him some positives for this week in the D.R.”
- Jhonattan Vegas. “He’s playing well lately and might have a bit of a fire under him this week as it marks the first time since 2016 that he isn’t with the big boys at the Match Play event. I’m sure he picked up plenty of confidence thanks to that T3 at the Players against the strongest field in golf. He’s going to have a big week.”
- Joaquin Niemann. “I don’t care what the record says right now, Joaquin is a great player. He loaded up on top-10 finishes in not a lot of starts on the PGA Tour a year ago. That hasn’t quite carried over to this season, where his lone top-10 finish in 12 starts was a T10 in Vegas. Though he hasn’t been on the first page of leaderboards, he’s certainly been grinding, evidenced by the fact that he’s only missed two cuts. On a course where scores will be low, maybe Joaquin will be able to loosen up and freewheel it a little bit.”
- Sungjae Im. “Im was the Web.com Tour’s leading money winner in the regular season last year and won twice on that Tour. No, he hasn’t won yet on the PGA Tour, but he’s certainly the best rookie player out here right now. Win No. 1 is right around the corner… and might even come Sunday evening.”