The Tom Fazio-designed Championship Course at Congaree Golf Club makes its PGA Tour debut this week. Words and stats from Andy Swales...
"Congaree was named the Best New Private Course of 2018 by American magazine Golf Digest. A year later it was presented with an even bigger award - Best Golf Course Built in the Decade, 2010-19."
The PGA Tour welcomes a new venue to its calendar this week, when Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina stages the Palmetto Championship.
Congaree stepped into the breach after the Canadian Open was cancelled for a second straight year, because of travelling restrictions caused the on-going pandemic.
Canada's national open was due to be held in Ontario but the players will now be teeing-up 970 miles away in South Carolina.
Designed by Tom Fazio and opened three years ago, Congaree was named the Best New Private Course of 2018 by American magazine Golf Digest.
A year later it was presented with an even bigger award - Best Golf Course Built in the Decade, 2010-19.
Congaree applied to host the 2026 Presidents Cup match but its pitch failed to earn enough votes and the four-day contest was awarded to TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
Congaree is a totally rural location, some 110 miles inland from Charleston, which is South Carolina's largest city.
Latest odds for this week's Palmetto Championship
Fazio's Championship layout is carved out of a huge forest on low-lying wetlands, with water coming into play on two-thirds of its holes.
This well-bunkered course with tree-lined fairways is expected to play firm and fast during tournament week.
Sandy waste areas border many of the holes, while the putting surfaces are - not unsurprisingly for a course in the Deep South - laid with Bermuda grass.
With the US Open taking place in San Diego next week, the Palmetto field is not heavily-laden with top-20 ranked golfers, which is only to be expected.
However, it does include world No 1 Dustin Johnson, along with the current 'King of the Majors' Brooks Koepka.
Johnson hasn't posted a top-10 since February, and has missed the cut in each of this year's two major championships.
The 36-year-old is desperately seeking to recover some lost form, while world No 8 Koepka has only recently returned from knee surgery and has completed just eight competitive rounds since March 1st.
However, it didn't prevent him from finishing tied-second at the PGA Championship in South Carolina three weeks ago.
Three of England's top-five ranked pros are in attendance - Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood - as they contest their final 'warm-up' event ahead of the US Open at Torrey Pines.
Yet it may be another Englishman, Ian Poulter, who could emerge as a stronger contender at Congaree.
The 45-year-old has performed solidly over the past couple of months and, on a course no one has ever tested under 'exam conditions', Poulter's scrambling skills could prove vital.
Perhaps not as the eventual champion, but certainly from an each-way perspective, with Poulter teeing-up full of confidence having stood on the podium at the Colonial event two weeks ago.
Two other solid e/w contenders are experienced American pros Charley Hoffman and Brandt Snedeker who have both performed with quiet distinction since early April.
Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves
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