We were given a mighty big clue early in the life of this event that it was going to be a hard nut to crack.
Michael Bradley was the inaugural winner in 2009 and it was not only his first top 20 on the PGA Tour in three years it was also his first top ten in nine years.
He would make just one more top 20 in the next two years – on defence of his trophy – and then he won the event again in 2011.
Other winners have included the then-rookie Derek Lamely, Bradley’s fellow journeymen George McNeill, Scott Brown, Alex Cejka and DA Points, and another rookie in the mould of Lamely (last year’s champion Martin Trainer).
Only Tony Finau has won here and kicked on to better things although famously, of course, it remains his only win at the top level.
The Coco Beach G&CC in Rio Grande was designed by Tom Kite and is a par-72 at 7,506-yards with Paspalum greens.
It’s a classic resort course with modern green complexes and hole shaping, but it’s proximity to the ocean hints at a key defence – the wind.
Those greens are also key – Paspalum is not Bermuda grass, but it’s not a million miles away.
The field, as always, has some interesting names in it.
Viktor Hovland is there, seeking a first win and a bit of impetus after spluttering through the last few weeks. He’s joined by Alex Noren, whose 2019 was not quite what he was expecting, and Tom Lewis, who won his PGA Tour card late last season.
The three of them are in the top five of the betting alongside Maverick McNealy and course specialist Scott Brown.
In addition to winning here the latter has twice finished fifth and twice tenth – he was also tied second last week in LA. Too obvious? Let’s see.
Angles to consider
1/ Outsiders thrive
There’s no getting away from the fact that favourites struggle to win here. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen, just that in the past anyone going big on short priced golfers would have been tearing their hair out watching big priced candidates overhaul them.
2/ Florida or Latin America form
Among past winners, Bradley, McNeill, Hadley and Points had wins or second placed finishes in Florida (windy, resort courses, Bermuda greens). Brown, Cejka and Trainer had top three finishes to their name in South or Central America (Bermuda greens, high humidity).
3/ Pebble Beach
Past winners have rarely provided much of a hint that they were about to win, but five of the last six did make the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am and the exception to that list made the cut at Torrey Pines.
The above angles have been used to create a shortlist from which the following players are selected.
The 31-year old has made six of his last seven cuts, but only in the Bermuda Championship (a similar course and field to this one) did he break the top 25 when tied eighth. He made the cut at Pebble (T55th) and is not only a winner (and second) in Mexico, he also finished fourth here in 2014
He finished T32nd at Pebble and although a debutant on the course he has vast experience south of the US border, including three wins.
A winner in Panama and made the cut at Pebble Beach.
(Note: Due to the volatile nature of this event the usual six point tally has been halved.)
0.5pt e.w. Wes Roach at 125/1 (BF SB, PaddyPower 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)
0.5pt e.w. Tyler McCumber at 66/1 (BetVictor, BetFred 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)
0.5pt e.w. Michael Gligic at 150/1 (BF SB, PaddyPower 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)