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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Puerto Rico Open - Preview

The Puerto Rico Open once again sits opposite the WGC-Cadillac Championship, and we’ll kick of the coverage in Puerto Rico with a little preview to whet your appetite.

Trump International Golf Club Puerto Rico serves as the host venue, stretching out to 7,506 yards at a par of 72. It features the expected slate of four par 5s and four par 3s, with two of those par 5s stretching out to over 600 yards.

This event dates back to 2008, and while the list of winners is about as weak as you will find in any event, this tournament was the catalyst for the phenomenon that is Jordan Spieth. Spieth’s 19-under 269 in 2013 put him a shot off the winning mark of Scott Brown, and essentially paved the way for his Special Temporary Membership which led to his 2013 John Deere Classic win.

While we’re on the topic, here’s a list of winners and bridesmaids dating back to 2008.
  • 2008 – Winner: Greg Kraft (-14) over Jerry Kelly and Bo Van Pelt (-13)
  • 2009 – Winner: Michael Bradley (-14) over Jason Day and Brett Quigley (-13)
  • 2010 – Winner: Derek Lamely (-19) over Kris Blanks (-17)
  • 2011 – Winner: Michael Bradley (-16) over Troy Matteson (-16 playoff)
  • 2012 – Winner: George McNeill (-16) over Ryo Ishikawa (-14)
  • 2013 – Winner: Scott Brown (-20) over Jordan Spieth and Fabian Gomez (-19)

Perhaps we would view this tournament a bit differently if Bo Van Pelt, Jason Day, Ryo Ishikawa and Jordan Spieth would have traded places with the champions, but so it goes.

While it’s gotten a little less cut-and-dry in the last year or two, GIR have traditionally been a major indicator of success in this event. Since ShotLink doesn't make the trip to Puerto Rico, we don’t have the advantage of certain stats like strokes gained-putting, driving distance and proximity that we usually enjoy.

I will also point out that this is one of the few tournaments that features paspalym greens. It is used mainly on courses that take on high amounts of water and are situated on the coast, and this strand of grass garnered attention at the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

My lean in an event like this would be to rely more heavily on players in solid form, while looking for some sign of decent course history. Because all of the premier players will be at Doral, this is a great opportunity for a trending player to break through.

We will return either tomorrow or Tuesday with a power ranking.

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