Opportunity knocked, state of South Carolina and Congaree Golf Club officials reacted, and — presto! — the Palmetto Championship at Congaree landed on the PGA Tour schedule.
The one-year-only tournament replaces the RBC Canadian Open, a fixture on the PGA calendar that the coronavirus outbreak canceled for the second straight year.
After early week practice rounds, the field will play 72 holes Thursday through Sunday over the Tom Fazio-designed Congaree course.
Here are a few things to know about the event:
What is the Palmetto Championship at Congaree?
This is a full-fledged PGA Tour event that offers 500 FedEx points to the champion. The winner’s share of $7.3 million purse is $1.314 million. This is the third PGA TOUR event contested in the state this season following the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head and PGA Championship at Kiawah and concludes what CBS announcer Jim Nantz dubbed “the South Carolina swing.”
Directions: Where is the Congaree Golf Club?
Congaree Golf Club has a Ridgeland address, but the club is located in a rural setting in the northern part of Jasper County on Davant Road. That’s west of Beaufort and Hilton Head and north of Savannah.
The club is located a few miles off of Interstate 95 and can be reached off either exit 33 or exit 28. Parking lots are nearby and directions are provided with the purchase of tickets and parking.
TV, radio coverage: How to watch and listen
The Golf Channel will carry the Thursday and Friday rounds 3-6 p.m. and will begin coverage on Saturday and Sunday 1-3 p.m. CBS will provide Saturday and Sunday coverage 3-6 p.m. Sirius XM Radio and PGATour.com/live audio will have live coverage noon-6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 1-6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
PGA Tour Live will have featured groups 7 a.m to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. In addition, featured hole coverage with be available 3-6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
PGA event weather forecast
If future forecasts are correct, fans should take their rain gear — just in case. The National Weather Service predicts temperatures between the mid-80s and low-90s each day with the chance of rain about 60% on Wednesday, then anywhere between 25% and 45% Thursday through Sunday. Winds will be 9-10 mph.
The weather especially matters at Congaree. The course is designed to play firm and fast with multiple options of playing styles. If rain softens the layout, the longer hitters have a big advantage.
Course layout for the event
Congaree will play about 7,600 yards to a par of 71. Designed by Tom Fazio, the course is on a former rice plantation and resembles Australian sand-belt layouts. A couple of par-4s stretch more than 500 yards, and the par-4 fifth measures 645 yards from the tips. Conversely, a couple of par-4s can be set up for drivable, risk-reward holes.
Tickets, about the tournament
▪ Buying Tickets: Although the number of on-site fans will be restricted to between 5,000 and 7,000, tickets are available and must be purchased online in advance. Go online to www.palmettochampionship.com for information.
▪ COVID Policy: Check the “know before you go” information on the Palmetto Championship website for health and safety regulations.
▪ Beneficiary: Proceeds will benefit Congaree Foundation, whose mission is to impact the lives of young people around the world by providing educational and vocational opportunities through the game of golf. The Congaree Global Golf Initiative is the Foundation’s signature program, which provides underserved and well-deserving high school students who aspire to play collegiate golf access to the highest level of athletic coaching and academic tools to enhance their opportunities for success.
The Foundation also has partnerships with the Lowcountry Food Bank and the Boys & Girls Club of Jasper County and works to expand access to the game through youth golf instruction and the Sergeant Jasper Golf Club.
PGA golf field this week
Dustin Johnson, a South Carolina native who is No. 1 in the world rankings and the reigning FedEx Cup champion, and four-time major champion Brooks Koepka, No. 8 in the world, headline the field.
Other players in 154-player field who have won majors include Lucas Glover, Jason Dufner and Padraig Harrington. Three others in the top 25 — Tyrell Hatton (11), Matthew Fitzpatrick (21) and Sungjae Im (25) — will tee up, too. More than 30 players who have entered have won PGA Tour events during the last two seasons.
Just as Bryson DeChambeau began his professional career in a South Carolina tournament, the RBC Heritage, two former college stars — 2021 college player of the year John Pak (Florida State) and former No. 1 amateur Davis Thompson (Georgia) — will make their professional debuts at Congaree.
The betting favorites for the tournament
No surprise: Most of the odds listed online go with the world rankings. William Hill Sportsbook lists Johnson and Koepka at 8-1 with Hatton at 14-1. Fitzpatrick at 18-1, Im at 20-1 and Tommy Fleetwood at 25-1.
Internet pundits make cases for players ranging from Ian Poulter and Alex Noren to Rafa Cabrera Bello and Harris English. A newcomer to watch: South African Garrick Higgo, who has two recent wins on the European Tour.
More about the field
▪ South Carolina flavor: Those with Palmetto State connections, in addition to Johnson, include Kevin Kisner, Lucas Glover, Doc Redman, Jonathan Byrd, Ben Martin, D.J. Trahan, Matt NeSmith, Mark Anderson, Scott Brown, Bill Haas, William McGirt and Bryson Nimmer.
▪ Absentees: With the U.S. Open next week, many of the top players are taking this tournament off. Missing will be the likes of Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantley.
RBC Canadian Open history
Rory McIlroy won the 2019 tourney, the last before COVID. Dustin Johnson took the 2018 title, and Jhonattan Vegas, who is playing this week, captured back-to-back championships in 2016-17.