2021 Palmetto Championship at Congaree Preview & Picks: 2 Players to Target Coming Off Memorial
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Noren.
Editor’s note: Branden Grace withdrew from the Palmetto Championship on Monday.
After the shocking news of Jon Rahm’s positive COVID-19 test sucked some of the air out of the Memorial Tournament on Saturday, Sunday saw a fantastic final round between Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay and Scottie Scheffler.
Both Morikawa and Cantlay struggled out of the gates, losing a three-shot lead to Scheffler, who took a solo lead through his first six holes. Ultimately, though, the young Texan stumbled down the stretch and failed to take advantage of some scoring opportunities, while Morikawa and Cantlay got their play together to take back the lead.
Cantlay tied Morikawa’s lead on the 17th hole with a long birdie putt, which would be the deciding hole to send them to a playoff.
They both missed the green on approach and leaned on a shaky short game to decide the event. Cantlay was able to get up and down from the greenside bunker, while Collin missed a 6 1/2-foot putt for par.
It was the second win at the Memorial for Cantlay, who made the most of a bad situation for the TOUR to get the win. Hopefully, this will be the last time we run into this scenario, which was very unfortunate for Rahm, the event and TOUR.
While there were plenty of headlines at the top of the leaderboard, many players put together solid weeks. Some will make the trip to Ridgeland, S.C., for this week’s Palmetto Championship at Congaree.
Let’s take a look at the players that will look to carry some strong momentum into the week ahead.
3 Buys for the Palmetto Championship at Congaree
Unfortunately, we are set for one of the weakest fields of the season this week. It is understandable with the U.S. Open the following week on the other side of the country. It leaves us with all of the biggest names who made the weekend at Muirfield Village passing on this event with eyes on the year’s third major next week.
Still, we have some guys flashing form, and the name that jumps off the page first is Branden Grace. He made a charge on Saturday at the Memorial to put himself in the penultimate pairing for the final round. He held serve in his position to finish in fourth by himself.
Grace has been another of the many great stories this season, having captured a win at the Puerto Rico Open in late February following the loss of his father. He continues to play solid golf and his top finish in this elite field highlights the shape of his game.
The South African finished the week gaining strokes in all categories this week, ranking 10th in strokes gained tee to green per round and 12th on approach. If he can continue this play at Congaree Golf Club, he can again get his name in the mix to capture a second win this season.
Alexander Noren was another player that stood out this week, especially over the weekend. He was sharp throughout his bag this week in Ohio as he gained strokes on the field in every metric. He was able to put it all together in his final round on Sunday as he gained more than four strokes on the field tee to green, with more than a stroke gained in three of the four categories. He finished in a tie for 13th after he posted the second best round of the day on Sunday with a 4-under 68.
I will be looking for the Swede to carry that good play into the next week and his strengths seem to fit the course. In my early research of the week ahead at Congaree Golf Club, Noren’s sharp short game and distance off the tee appear to be an ideal combination for this track.
Another European player that seems to be finding some form at this stage in the year is Rafa Cabrera Bello. He has struggled for much of the start of the year, before finally posting three straight made cuts.
The Spaniard is still looking for his first Top 20 finish of the year, and he really suffered from a tough third round at the Memorial. He gained more than five strokes on the field tee to green over three of his four rounds at Muirfield Village, but gave them all back on Saturday afternoon. I am willing to chalk it up to a tough day as the signs are there for the former top player to get his name in the mix on the weekend soon, and a lesser field like is expected in South Carolina this week, could be exactly what he needs.