Ian Poulter is one of Mike Kern's choices at Congaree.
Ian Poulter is one of Mike Kern's choices at Congaree.@PGATOUR on Twitter

Bet the PGA: The Tour heads to Congaree for the Palmetto Open – Kern picks Alex Noren, Ian Poulter, others

The Palmetto Championship in South Carolina tees off Thursday morning.

It’s a different kind of week on the PGA Tour. It was supposed to be the Canadian Open, but because of the Covid restrictions at the border, that isn’t happening. Instead, the guys will play in South Carolina at the Palmetto Championship. Yo, if we’ve learned anything in the last year or so it’s that life can be an audible.

The field is about as weak as it gets, with the U.S. Open on deck next week in San Diego. What that does for your handicapping is whatever it is. The two faves are Dustin Johnson, at 7.5-1, and Brooks Koepka, at 8-1. DJ hasn’t played well in about two months, and he’s never won in his home state. Koepka has missed the cut in two of his last three non-major events, as he dealt with knee issues, but he did finish second in the PGA, in which he always plays well. I have him in a pool. The last two weeks I’ve had Jordan Spieth (second) and Patrick Cantlay (won, thanks to Jon Rahm’s Covid-related withdrawal) in that pool. What that means exactly I’m never sure, but I’m just being transparent.

Tyrrell Hatton is 11-1. Matthew Fitzpatrick is 12-1. Sungjae Im is 15-1. Then it’s down to Tommy Fleetwood and Alexander Noren at 25-1, along with Ian Poulter. Harris English is 28-1. Lucas Glover and Harold Varner III are 33-1. Hey, it’s that kind of week.

Kevin Kisner and Keith Mitchell are two of four at 40-1. Brandt Snedeker is one of two at 50-1. Luke List is 55-1. After that you can kind of fend for yourself, although some folks seem to like Rafa Cabrera-Bello at 80-1. I’ll throw in Jason Dufner at 100-1.

So which way to go? I can’t play either of the two faves, just because. But both are certainly capable of winning against this group. I’m thinking they may be using this week more as a way to get ready for the third major of the season. But you never know.

That being said, I’ll take a shot with Alexander Noren and Ian Poulter, both at 25-1. And they’re 5-1 to get a top five. When Poulter is in the mood he can be a contender, and Noren has the potential.

I will add a few things to ponder: Luke List reportedly holds the course record at Congaree. Keith Mitchell tied for third recently. Brandt Snedeker hasn’t won in almost three years, but he has finished in the top 17 in three of his last four starts. And Harris English won earlier this year in Hawaii. And this layout supposedly has open fairways with minimal rough. So factor that into your evaluations.

To be honest I’m not really crazy about anything this week. But if I had to play a longer shot or two I’d look at Mitchell (also 7-1 for a top five), Snedeker (10-1) and List (also 10-1). I wouldn’t put much on any of them. Just enough to hopefully give you something to root for come Sunday.

See you next week at the U.S. Open from Torrey Pines, where Tiger won that memorable 91-holer on one leg in 2008. Tiger, of course, will not be there this time.

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