Puerto Rico Open Preview 2017
Dates: March 20-26, 2017
Where: Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
Course: Coco Beach Golf & Country Club
36-36—par 72/7,569 yards
Field size: 132
2016 champion: Tony Finau
Purse: $3,000,000 ($540,000/winner)
FedExCup: 300 points to the winner
Format: 72-hole stroke play
How the 2016 Puerto Rico Open was won
- Beginning the final round a stroke off Ian Poulter’s 11-under 206 lead, Tony Finau posted a 2-under 70 in Sunday’s final round to force sudden death with Steve Marino.
- The duo matched birdies on the first two extra holes, both at the par-5 18th, before Finau’s birdie on the third extra hole, No. 18, proved too much for Marino.
- Finau made just three birdies over the course of the 72 holes last year and became the eighth American winner of the Puerto Rico Open in its nine-year history. Alex Cejka in 2015 was the exception.
Springboard to stardom
- Since the tournament’s inception in 2008, the Puerto Rico Open has helped elevate the careers of several PGA TOUR stars, including the likes of Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo.
- Past sponsor exemptions Spieth (2013) and Koepka (2014) used strong performances at the Puerto Rico Open as springboards to future PGA TOUR stardom.
- Spieth earned Special Temporary Membership soon after his runner-up finish in 2013 and was named PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year thanks to a win at the John Deere Classic.
- One year after his start in Puerto Rico, Koepka won the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open and represented the United States at the 2016 Ryder Cup.
- The Argentinian Grillo won the 2015-16 PGA TOUR Season’s first event, the Safeway Open, and went on to be voted PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year. He is playing in this week’s WGC-Dell Match Play for the second straight season.
Notables in the 2017 Puerto Rico Open field
- Defending champion Tony Finau is not in the Puerto Rico Open field, as he is first alternate in the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play this week.
- 2010 World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play winner Ian Poulter is poised to make his second consecutive start in this week’s Puerto Rico Open.
- Also won the 2012 WGC-HSBC Champions
- 13-time champion internationally
- In last year’s first start in Puerto Rico, led by a stroke at 11-under 205 through 54 holes, before finishing T3.
- 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell will make his first start in the Puerto Rico Open this week.
- The three-time PGA TOUR champion is making his seventh start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season and has finished in the top 15 in two of his last three starts (T14/The Honda Classic and Valspar Championship).
- In second start at the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba, and first since 2007, emerged victorious for his third and most recent TOUR victory.Harold Varner III, who won the Australian PGA Championship back in December, will be among those making their first start in this week’s Puerto Rico Open.
- Has collected eight top-25 finishes on the PGA TOUR in 43 starts.
- Best finish this season is a T15 at the season-opening Safeway Open.
- Andrew “Beef” Johnston caught the attention of the golf world with his eighth-place finish in last year’s Open Championship at Royal Troon Golf Club.
- Divided his time last season between the PGA TOUR, European Tour and Web.com Tour.
- Earned his exempt status to the PGA TOUR this season by virtue of his 21st-place finish on the 2016 Web.com Tour priority list.
- Came to be known as “Beef” by friends in his childhood years.
- Born in London to a working-class family, his late father worked as a bus driver and at a timber company, while his mother worked in a school cafeteria.
- Four major championship winners are poised to take part in this week’s Puerto Rico Open; Retief Goosen (2001, 2004 U.S. Open), Trevor Immelman (2008 Masters Tournament), Ben Curtis (2003 Open Championship) and Graeme McDowell (2010 U.S. Open).
- Notable sponsor exemptions include:
- Miami native Chris Nido is poised to make his first-ever start on the PGA TOUR this week at the Puerto Rico Open. The 17-year-old has committed to the University of Florida golf program after high school graduation this year. Interestingly, last year’s Puerto Rico Open champion Tony Finau made his first start on the PGA TOUR also at the age of 17, at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee in 2007.
- Fabrizio Zanotti, a 33-year old from Paraguay will be making his eighth career PGA TOUR start. He has competed full-time on European Tour since 2008, with a win at the 2014 BMW International Open. In early March, finished T12 at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship is this season’s only PGA TOUR start.
- Puerto Rico native Rafael Campos, who finished T8 in last year’s Puerto Rico Open, will be making his 10th start in the event.
- Peter Uihlein will be making his fourth start in the Puerto Rico Open. He finished T6 in 2013. Uihlein won the 2010 U.S. Amateur and is a former No. 1 ranked amateur in the world.
- Former University of Alabama golf team member Robby Shelton will be making his eighth start as a professional on the PGA TOUR this week. He gained attention as an amateur, by finishing T3 at the 2015 Barbasol Championship.
- Colombia’s Marcelo Rozo is a two-time winner on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and will be making his second career start on the PGA TOUR (90th/2015 RBC Canadian Open)
Puerto Rico Open Notes
- Each of the last four winners of the Puerto Rico Open made the crown their first on the PGA TOUR; Scott Brown (2013), Chesson Hadley (2014) Alex Cejka (2015) and Tony Finau (2016).
- Since its 2008 inception, there have been a total of six first-time winners in the event. Greg Kraft (2008) and Derek Lamely (2010) complete that list.
Puerto Rico Open Tournament Records
- Best 18-hole score: 63, Derek Lamely (2010), Chris Tidland (2011),
- James Driscoll (2011), Scott Brown (2013).
- Best opening 36 holes: 130, Andres Romero (2013)
- Best 54 holes: 198, Scott Brown (2013), Fabian Gomez (2013)
- Best 72 holes: 267, Chesson Hadley (2014)
- Best come-from-behind win: 4, Derek Lamely (2010), Michael Bradley (2011)
- Largest margin of victory: 2, Derek Lamely (2010), George McNeill (2012), Chesson Daley (2014)
Playoffs: 3, Michael Bradley over Troy Matteson (2011), Alex Cejka over Sam Saunders, Emiliano Grillo, Jon Curran and Tim Petrovic (2015), Tony Finau over Steve Marino (2016).
Puerto Rico Open Preview 2017 VIA PGA TOUR