Joseph Deraney is the Devil's Elbow champion (Back of the Range)
(Beldan, Miss.) has plans next March after winning the Devil's Elbow Invitational by two shots with a winning score of 4-under par. He'll tee it up with the pros in the PGA Tour's Corales Punta Cana Championship.
The day started with Deraney on top of the leaderboard by four shots. Bogeys on his first two holes might have been due to nerves; if they were, he calmed himself and played exceptional golf on the final 16 holes. He tallied birdies on hole Nos. 4,7, and 10. He only dropped one more shot with a safe bogey on the 18th hole when things were all but decided.
2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Matt Parziale (Brockton, Mass.) made a late charge to finish in second place at 2-under par. His final round 68 was the best score of the day and the only one in the 60s. The solid round got jump-started with a birdie on the par-3 ninth hole. He made three more birdies on the back nine on hole Nos. 10, 12, and 16.
Ryan Terry (Brentwood, Tenn.) backed up his 68 in the second round with another sub-par round on Saturday. His 71 helped him finish solo third.
Deraney won't be playing in his first PGA Tour event, he played in the 2019 RBC Canadian Open after becoming just the second American to win the Canadian Mid-Amatuer in 2018. He shot 75-70 at Hamilton Golf and CC.
Day Two Recap
Joseph Deraney carded six birdies on his way to a 68 at Corales Punta Cana in the Devil's Elbow Invitational. The man from Mississippi who has plenty of Mid-Am pelts, and this event in the Dominican Republic would be a new one for him. In addition to the win, the champion gets a spot in the Corales Punta Cana Championship in March on the PGA Tour.
The 68 Deraney shot was matched by Ryan Terry, who carded three birdies and an eagle. The second-round score was six shots better than his opening round, and it has Terry sitting in second place, four shots of the lead.
A trio of players sits at 1-over par. Hunter Hawkins, Ricky Stimets, and Jeronimo Esteve all have the firepower to chase down Deraney. Stimets most recently won the Mass. Mid-Am by 13 shots in September, locking up Player of the Year in the Bay State. Esteve won the inaugural Devil's Elbow in 2021. Hawkins is used to the pressure of big events, having reached the Round of 16 in the 2021 U.S. Mid-Am on Nantucket and won the NIT at the Country Club of Birmingham in 2022.
First-round leader Billy Hanes had a tougher day on Friday, shooting a 76. He's tied for sixth place and six shots off the lead at 2-over par.
Day One Recap
Billy Hanes leads after the first round of the Devil's Elbow in the Dominican Republic. He was the only player to shoot under par at the Corales Course at Punta Cana. After players dealt with a touch of rain during their practice rounds, the skies opened up on Thursday, pulling golfers off the course for an hour-long rain delay.
Hanes finished his round with a flurry of birdies, tallying three in his final three holes en route to a 2-under 70. Five players are two shots behind Hanes at even par. It's quite the quintet, as the first two Devil's Elbow winners - Jeronimo Esteve and Kyle Maxwell - shot 72. Christian Sease, Hunter Hawkins, and Joseph Deraney also shot 72.
Amateur Golf's Chris Brauner is in the field, too.
"The course is playing extremely long due to all the rain they're getting," Brauner said.
The event grants an exemption to the PGA Tour's Corales Punta Cana Championship in March, so it makes sense that the course is set up to identify the best player.
"The wind coming directly off the ocean makes the Devil's Elbow (holes 16-18) and eight and nine tough," Brauner said.
The field of 40 players will be back on the course on Friday and Saturday in this 54-hole event.
The Devil's Elbow will kick off on Thursday, November 9 at the Puntacana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic. The Mid-Am event, which launched in 2021, has been slowly growing and pulling in more and more talent as the field size also grows.
What makes this event rather rare is that it offers the field of Mid-Am golfers the opportunity to compete in the PGA Tour. The winner of the 54-hole stroke play event is granted an invite to the Corales Puntacana Championship in March of 2024. The Corales Course is the host of both the Devil's Elbow and the Corales Punta Cana Championship.
How did the tournament get such a unique name? The 16th, 17th, and 18th on the Corales course are named The Devil's Elbow, hence the name of the event. The three hole stretch offers stunning views, and as the name suggests, a tough finish. The 16th is a 416-yard par 4, the 17th is a 214-yard par 3, and the 18th 501-yard par 4.
Just watching the highlights from a windy 2021 Corales Punta Cana Championship, where Joel Dahmen won shows how tough the golf course can play.
One of the tournament's organizers and founders, Erick Morales, wants the tournament to stand out not only for the berth on the PGA Tour, but also for the quality of the week the players have. They stay on property, and many players bring their families down with them to enjoy the Caribbean sun for the week.
“It’s very family-friendly. We’d play in the morning and then spend time by the pool," said 2021 champion Jeronimo Esteve. "Wives, girlfriends, and kids would hang out together. It was a great experience.”
Over the two years, the tournament has experienced some stop-start issues that belie many tournaments that try to get off the ground. Last year, the hotel sustained damage from Hurricane Fiona. The tournament was still played, but players had to scramble for housing, and some players decided not to travel down for the tournament.
Kyle Maxwell was the 2022 champion after shooting rounds of 74-67-69. Will Davenport was runner-up just two shots off the pace. Maxwell acquitted himself well in the Corales Punta Cana Championship; he missed the cut by just four shots with rounds of 75 and 73. It would certainly be big news if a Devil's Elbow champion reached the weekend on the PGA Tour.
This year's field includes Esteve, who won the Coleman at Seminole in April and was the medalist in the U.S. Mid-Am at Sleepy Hollow. Matt Parziale will also compete this year for the first time. He is the 2017 U.S. Mid-Am Champion and eight-time Player of the Year in his home state of Massachusetts. Will Davenport will return to try and improve on his second-place finish in 2021.
Erick Morales will compete while also organizing the event. He has played in five PGA Tour events and made the cut in one.