The Punter

Myrtle Beach Classic: Nico chanced in South Carolina at 89/1

Golfer Nico Echavarria
Nico Echavarria - fancied by The Punter in South Carolina

The Wells Fargo Championship is the main event on the PGA Tour this week but the inaugural Myrtle Beach Classic makes for an interesting alternative event and Steve Rawlings has the lowdown here...

Tournament History

This is the first edition of the Myrtle Beach Classic.


The Dunes Golf and Beach Club, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Course Details

Par 71, 7,347 yards

Hugging Lake Singleton and dating back to 1948, the tree-lined Robert Trent Jones Sr designed Dunes Club is appearing on the PGA Tour for the first time.

The Dunes has played host to numerous high-end golf tournaments including the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on the Champions Tour between 1994 and 1999 and the USGA Women's Open in 1962.

Nicknamed "Alligator Alley," the three-hole stretch of Holes 11, 12 and 13 is the course's most renowned stretch.

As many as 16 of the 18 bermuda greens are bunkered on the left and the the right and the other two are only bunkered front right.

It looks like a fabulous and strong course with only one par four under 400 yards but for more on the course, this five-minute flyover from Play Golf Myrtle Beach, is an absolute must.

Although the routing hasn't changed, the Dunes has undergone some extensive renovation work by Trent Jones' younger son, Rees Jones, over the last 20 years.

There was refinement of some green sites, addition of fairway bunkers, course lengthening, a new irrigation system, practice tee enhancement and conversion of the putting surfaces to Champion ultradwarf bermudagrass for better performance in warm weather.

Greens were also expanded to an average size of 6,000 square feet - large enough to provide room for the ball to roll out under today's greater putting speeds. "I tried to build it for today's play while preserving Dad's design character," said Rees.

Following extensive drainage work and due to the fact that the Dunes sits on a naturally sandy site, the course is likely to play very firm.

With narrow fairways, measuring 20 to 25 yards across, there should be a premium on driving accuracy this week.

The greens should be much harder to hold when played from the 2-inch overseeded ryegrass rough, so accuracy off the tee will be rewarded.

Weather Forecast

TV Coverage

No TV coverage in the UK.

Is There an Angle In?

Trent Jones Sr is a famous course designer and he's been responsible for some magnificent courses that have staged huge events and major championships recently.

He worked extensively on A W Tillinghast's masterpiece, Baltusrol, as well as the Bert Way designed Firestone Country Club, and Donald Ross' South Course at Oakland Hills. And he's been the designer of the likes of Bellerive, Hazeltine, and Valderrama, but we only see two Trent Jones Sr courses regularly on the PGA Tour.

Spyglass Hill is played in rotation at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Port Royal Golf Course in Bermuda hosts the Bermuda Championship.

I'm far from convinced that form at the Bermuda Championship will translate given Port Royal is extremely wind-exposed and quite unique in appearance but Camilo Villegas won there last year, and he won the BMW Championship at Bellerive in 2008 so you never know?

State form is also quite scarce too with the RBC Heritage, won last month by Scottie Scheffler, is the only regular PGA Tour event staged in South Carolina.


Like The Dunes, the Heritage's host course, Hilton Head, is largely tree-lined with some exposed holes so the two venues should compare nicely and there two other tracks that may correlate too...

Form at the RSM Classic in neighbouring Georgia may well be worth perusing given the host course, the Seaside Course at Sea Island, is visually similar to this one but we need to head back to South Carolina to find the course that may resemble The Dunes the closest.

The Tom Fazio designed Congaree hosted the once only stage Palmetto Championship in 2021, won by Garrick Higgo, and the final edition of the CJ Cup in 2022, won by Rory McIlroy.

In a tournament that looks extremely difficult to assess, looking at the leaderboards at those two events is probably the best place to start but form at Hilton Head and Sea Island looks of interest too.

In-Play Tactics

Concentrating on the leaders may be the way to go here.

I've only been able to find data on three editions of the Charles Schab Championship (1996, '97, and '98), which was then known as the Senior Tour Championship and all three winners were up with the pace all week.

Hale Irwin sat second after rounds two and three, before winning by five, having led by two after round one, and the other two victors, Jay Sigel in 1996 and Gil Morgan in '97, were tied for the lead at halfway and three and two shots clear respectively after three rounds. Both won by two.

Market Leaders

This is an extremely open inaugural staging, with the players vying for favouritism having been matched at odds in excess of 30.029/1.

Following his tied 13th in the CJ Cup Byron Nelson Championship last week, the classy Daniel Berger just about heads the market and that makes perfect sense.

That's his best finish since his back injury induced 18-month long career break that began in June 2022 and his stats suggest a fifth PGA Tour victory might be on the cards very soon.

Daniel Berger in Texas 2024.jpg

The putter needs to warm up, but he ranked 12th for Driving Accuracy, third for Greens In Regulation and first for Scrambling in Texas so his game's coming together nicely and this venue looks perfect for him.

Ben Griffin finished alongside Berger at Craig Ranch last week and he's alongside him here in the market but he makes less appeal.

His third in the Bermuda Championship and a top-eight finish in the RSM Classic are big plusses from a course fit perspective but he's yet to win on the PGA Tour and I'm happy to swerve him.


I have four picks at 100.099/1 and bigger in this event for the Find Me a 100 Winner column but my only selection in the event at a double-figure price is Nico Echavarria.

The 29-year-old Columbian lost his way after winning the Puerto Rico Open last year, but he's been playing nicely of late, finishing 14th in the Corales Puntacana Championship, fourth in the Zurich Classic, alongside Max Greyserman, and 24th last week in Texas where he shot three 67s and a 68 around Craig Ranch.

He's twice finished inside the top-ten in the State on the Korn Ferry Tour, his long game is generally accurate and he's a fantastic putter who should take to the venue.

Now read my Wells Fargo Championship preview here

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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