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Nate Lashley is getting great respect from the bookmaking community after he finished 20th in the Genesis Invitational last time out. The accurate sort has two top-tens to his name at Grand Reserve, as well as form on similar tracks.
Lashley deserves respect, but the 40-year-old has won only once on the PGA Tour and preference is for younger, more progressive players at juicier odds.
Steve Palmer’s top tip
Harrison Endycott 45-1
Australia remains a hotbed of golfing talent and Harrison Endycott is a 26-year-old who could develop into a serious PGA Tour force. The Sydney swinger will fear nobody in this week’s Puerto Rico Open line-up and seems the best value option.
Endycott played on the Latinoamerica Tour in 2018 and is comfortable in this region. He advanced his career by winning on the Korn Ferry Tour last year – a five-shot romp in the Huntsville Championship – and this stylish player has made a decent start to life on the PGA Tour.
Endycott banked a healthy early cheque with 12th place in the Fortinet Championship, then finished tenth in the Bermuda Championship and 22nd in The American Express. Last week, he tied for 26th in the Honda Classic, so he has been handling himself well in much higher-class company than he will face this week.
Next best bet
Sam Stevens 25-1
Another former Latinoamerica performer who will see Puerto Rico as a golden opportunity for a PGA Tour breakthrough is Sam Stevens – an assured character who appears likely to develop into a champion on the main circuit.
Stevens won the Colombia Classic in 2021, then impressed on the Korn Ferry Tour last year, becoming a PGA Tour rookie. His 13th-place finish in the Farmers Insurance Open a month ago is absolutely incredible form in the context of the Puerto Rico Open. If he can contend at Torrey Pines among some of the elite, then Stevens knows he is a massive runner for Puerto Rico.
The Wichita lad missed the cut in the Honda Classic last week, but he signed off with a Friday 69 and should bounce back by being a leading title contender at Grand Reserve.
Ryan Gerard 28-1
Another American youngster who could use the Puerto Rico Open to secure their PGA Tour future is Ryan Gerard, who is riding the crest of a wave after a bold effort in the Honda Classic last week.
Gerard battled through a Monday qualifier to get into the Honda, then finished alone in fourth place on Sunday, banking a cheque for $411,600. The 23-year-old was full of determination and obvious self-belief in interviews afterwards.
Gerard won on the Canadian Tour last summer, quickly proving himself at that level, and he finished third in a Korn Ferry Tour event a couple of weeks ago. Doors are opening up for the University of North Carolina alum and he will tee up at Grand Reserve expecting to contend.
Grand Reserve course guide
Course Grand Reserve Golf Club, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico Prize money $3.8m ($666,000 to the winner) Length 7,506 yards Par 72 – four par-fives; ten par-fours; four par-threes Field 120 The cut Top 65 and ties qualify for round three Highest-ranked players in field (world ranking in brackets) Erik van Rooyen (120), Carl Yuan (143), MJ Daffue (157), Paul Haley (177), Austin Eckroat (208) Course records– 72 holes 267 Chesson Hadley (2014) 18 holes 62 Jhonattan Vegas (2020)
Course winners taking part Derek Lamely, George McNeill, Scott Brown, DA Points, Martin Trainer
When to bet By 11am on Thursday
Time difference Puerto Rico is four hours behind the UK and Ireland
Course type Parkland
Course overview This Tom Kite layout has hosted since 2008, with various name changes through the years (Trump International, Coco Beach GC). It is flat and has paspalum grass
Story of last year Ryan Brehm romped to a six-shot victory and a PGA Tour breakthrough
Weather forecast Sunny and warm with gentle breezes for the most part, peaking on Sunday afternoon. A thunderstorm threat all weekend
Type of player suited to the challenge Long drivers have been regularly appearing on the Puerto Rico Open honours board recently. The lack of significant wind this week lends itself to attacking golf
Key attribute Power
Seven of the last nine editions have been won by a PGA Tour maiden