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Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Hotshot Hagy could become the king of Coco Beach

Brandon Hagy should relish the drop in grade
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Tournament starts 11am Thursday

Palmer's top tip
Brandon Hagy 50-1
The last month has been greatly encouraging for Brandon Hagy, who has settled nicely on the US Tour, and the 25-year-old Californian could be about to put the icing on the cake by winning the Puerto Rico Open.

Hagy, a seriously powerful player who impressed on the Web.com Tour last season, has carded no worse than 73 in his last three US Tour outings, finishing 33rd at Pebble Beach, 21st in the Honda Classic and 28th at Bay Hill on Sunday.

Hagy, regarded as a player of significant potential after starring on the Stateside college scene, has clearly got his game in order and will be relishing a drop in grade to a course he knows.

Hagy teed up in the 2015 Puerto Rico Open on a sponsors invite, making just the third US Tour start of his career, finishing 16th. With showers set to soften a 7,506-yard track, big-hitting Brandon can make an even greater impression on his return to Coco Beach.

Next best
Luke List 25-1
Another US Tour maiden who will be fancying his chances of using this low-key affair to make his breakthrough is Luke List. He was 707th in the world after his first event of 2016, but is 169th this week after a series of excellent US Tour performances.

Like Hagy, List is blessed with enormous length, and he has posted 12 top-20 finishes in the last 14 months.

He was runner-up in the Sanderson Farms Championship at the end of October and two bright Florida spins – 27th in the Valspar, 17th in the Arnold Palmer – have sent him to Puerto Rico with confidence. List, a winner on the Web.com Tour, was 15th at Coco Beach last year.

Other selections
Danny Lee 33-1
Fabian Gomez 125-1
It did not look like Danny Lee would ever need to bother again with the Puerto Rico Open when the former US Amateur champion won the 2015 Greenbrier Classic and quickly followed up with second place in the Tour Championship.

The New Zealander has endured a fallow period, though, and returns to Coco Beach for the first time since he finished second in 2014.

After 22nd place in the Valspar and 17th at Bay Hill on Sunday, Lee looks ready to outclass most of his Puerto Rico rivals, while Fabian Gomez is an outsider to consider.

Gomez has twice contended at Coco Beach after arriving in dismal form (seventh in 2011, second in 2013). History could be about to repeat itself, and Gomez has become a US Tour champion since those efforts.

Others to note
Peter Uihlein
The American has been impressing on the European Tour, finally free from injury and threatening to realise his potential. Was sixth at Coco Beach in 2013.

Matt Jones
The Australian was fifth in the 2012 Puerto Rico Open and a slide to world number 182nd has prompted a return. Dangerman, but has just returned from three weeks holidaying in Oz.

Scott Brown
Won his only US Tour title at Coco Beach in 2013 and has twice finished fifth there. Was second in the Genesis Open last month.

Wesley Bryan
Three-time champion on the Web.com Tour last year. Has been playing well for a month, but making Coco debut.

Graham DeLaet
Strong ball-striker whose short-game frailties have been less obvious this season. Last three Coco spins have resulted in 9-18-11.

Graeme McDowell
Former Major champion and Ryder Cup star seeking to revive career with Puerto Rico debut.

Staking plan
B Hagy
1.5pts each-way 50-1 Betfred
L List
1.5pts each-way 25-1 general
D Lee
1.5pts each-way 33-1 general
F Gomez
0.5pt each-way 125-1 Betfred


Puerto Rico Open
Course Coco Beach Golf & Country Club (Championship Course), Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
Prize money $3m ($540,000 to the winner)
Length 7,506 yards Par 72 Field 132
Course records – 72 holes 267 Chesson Hadley (2014). 18 holes 63 Derek Lamely (2010), James Driscoll (2011 and 2014), Chris Tidland (2011), Scott Brown (2013).

Course winners taking part Michael Bradley (twice), George McNeill, Scott Brown, Chesson Hadley, Alex Cejka.

Course overview A long Tom Kite layout with spectacular views of the El Yunque rainforest and the Atlantic Ocean makes its tenth appearance on the US Tour, having been crafted in 2004.

The track reverted to its original name after a spell known as Trump International. This is a composite course with holes taken from two 18-hole layouts on the luxury leisure and residential complex.

The 15th is 600 yards and typically into the wind, while the 18th is 630 yards, so those two par-fives provide a late test of power. There are 18 water hazards and the most difficult hole has traditionally been the 459-yard 14th.

Story of last year Tony Finau claimed a maiden US Tour triumph at the third extra hole of a playoff against Steve Marino.

Weather forecast Sporadic showers over the first three days, with a windy weekend also in store.

Type of player suited to challenge Steady plodders and powerhouses alike have triumphed at this venue, underlined by Alex Cejka and Tony Finau winning the last two stagings. Regular showers are expected to keep a long track soft this week, so big-hitters could enjoy themselves.

Key attribute Power.

He has clearly got his game in order and will be relishing a drop in grade to a course he knows
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