The Palmetto Championship event this week is the final stop before the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines as the PGA Tour heads to Congaree Golf Club. The field may not be as star-studded as many would like, but remember, both of the events directly preceding major championships so far this year have been great. Jordan Spieth took the Texas Open before the Masters and nearly did so at the Byron Nelson leading into the PGA Championship before K.H. Lee went on to win dramatically after a late rain delay.
There are two big-time names playing here this week, and a golf course that has never been played before on the PGA Tour (and did not even exist as recently as five years ago). Congaree is going to be fascinating as the Tour concludes a three-week whirlwind between the PGA and U.S. Open as summer starts to swing.
Let's take a closer look at this week's contest -- which is temporarily replacing the RBC Canadian Open -- with odds provided via William Hill Sportsbook.
Event: Palmetto Championship at Congaree | Dates: June 10-13
Location: Congaree Golf Club -- Gillisonville, South Carolina
Par: 71 | Purse: $7.3 million
Three things to know
1. D.J.? Dustin Johnson has been a non-factor for most of the year. He missed the cut at both the Masters and PGA Championship and does not have a top 10 since February. Cameron Tringale, who, to be fair, has been playing pretty well but is still not exactly a household name, is gaining more strokes than D.J. per round. Next week is big, too. He needs to not miss the cut in the first three majors of the year, and Torrey is a place where he's probably one of eight guys who have a realistic chance of winning the tournament. This week's test run will be more meaningful than it normally is for somebody who is narrowly holding on to the No. 1 spot in the world.
2. Brooks! Four-time major champ Brooks Koepka will make his first appearance since both the PGA as well as his feud with Bryson DeChambeau. It's also just his second appearance at a non-major since February. He, too is in the small group capable of winning next week's U.S. Open, but he has a lot of other stuff going on as well. Between his knee (which may or may not have been injured when fans ran on the course at the PGA), all the Bryson chatter and an already-apathetic attitude toward everything that's not a major championship, I have no idea what we're getting this week.
3. Congaree might be good: I'm not generally a Tom Fazio fan, but this golf course looks like it could be really fun and interesting. It lacks rough in favor of more natural waste areas, but its greens and its length look to be the defenses against the course. Here's what former major winner Lucas Glover told Golfweek recently (and this is always the goal with a golf course!).
"It's different. It's firm and fast. It's fun," Glover said of the course, which he's played five times. "It's 100 percent playable to all golfers. It's designed that way. It's a good test for a good player and a fair test for an average to high handicapper. I think the PGA Tour players will like it. It will be in good shape. The greens will be good. It's a cool place."
Grading the field
The field is not a great one, which can be looked at one of two ways. The first is that the field is not a great one, but the second is that it's an opportunity for a young stud or a middle-of-the-road player to grab a career-altering victory. There are only eight top-50 players in the world playing this week, including Johnson (No. 1), Koepka (No. 8), Tyrrell Hatton (No. 11), Matthew Fitzpatrick (No. 21), Sungjae Im (No. 25), Harris English (No. 26), Tommy Fleetwood (No. 32) and Kevin Kisner (No. 50). There are also more players outside the top 1,800 in the world than inside the top 50. Grade: D
2021 Palmetto Championship picks
|Winner (14-1): Hatton has not been playing his best golf of late, but he's been much better than almost everyone else in this field from tee to green over the last three months. Only Koepka has been better than him, and Hatton's sample size is twice as big. His iron play, especially from long distance where he is really strong, should benefit him here.|
|Top 10 (+350): I'm a sucker for a great tee-to-green game, and Varner has one. His all-around game has been fairly solid for the last three months, and he has as many top-two finishes (1) as he does missed cuts since the Masters. I wish his number was a bit longer, but in a field like this it's difficult to find a ton of value with solid (but not elite) guys like him.|
|Sleeper (80-1): His name kept popping up among players who have been solid from tee to green lately. I'm mildly concerned that his driving has not been great, but I like everything else (he has two top-10s in his last three starts across multiple tours).|