It’s a bittersweet weekend in the golf world.
The Mayakoba Classic is this weekend at El Chamelon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. It marks the final PGA Tour event in 2020, as the Tour won’t reconvene until the second weekend of January when the Hawaii swing begins with the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
So, it is a bit sad knowing there won’t be professional golf (men’s, at least; the U.S. Women’s Open is next weekend), but the Mayakoba certainly has an interesting field and gives us one more chance to cash in before the holidays.
Here’s a quick betting preview for the Mayakoba Classic.
Chamelon Golf Club — Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Similar courses (per Data Golf’s course fit tool): Sedgefield Country Club (Wyndham Championship), Muirfield Village (the Memorial)
Mayakoba typically has been a bit of a birdie fest. Just two years ago, the cut line — the cut line! — was 3-under. Matt Kuchar set the tournament record that year by finishing 22-under, holding off Danny Lee by a stroke. In fact, the winning score in three of the last four years has been 20-under or better, and the average winning score since 2013 is just a tick below 20-under.
Unsurprisingly, the three par-5s are the three easiest holes on the course followed by the mini 116-yard, par-3 fourth. The toughest holes, unsurprisingly, are the longer par-4s, including a massive 515-yard 16th.
Weather could be a major factor this weekend. There’s at least a 60 percent chance of rain each day, and there’s already talk about lift, clean and place being used from the fairway.
This course doesn’t necessarily favor the big hitters. The two most recent winners — Todd and Kuchar — finished in the bottom 10 of the entire Tour (193 golfers) in driving distance last year. It’s worth wondering whether that could change this year with arguably the best field in tournament history making the trip to Mexico. However, accuracy off the tee has been a better indicator for success with some thicker, penal rough hurting players who miss the fairway.
Justin Thomas +650
Brooks Koepka +1400
Harris English +1600
Tony Finau +1800
Daniel Berger +2000
Viktor Hovland +2000
PICKS WE LIKE
Emiliano Grillo top 10 (+450): The Argentine seems to be a big fan of El Cameleon. Grillo’s average finish at the Mayakoba is 19th, and he has a pair of top-10 finishes. He’s made four of his last five cuts and has been among the best approach players since the middle of the summer.
Russell Henley (+2500): Henley fits the profile of the sort of player we want to back this week. He did miss the cut last year, but he’s had some strong performances at similar courses including a top-10 at the Wyndham this year. That performance started a current stretch in which he has four top-10 finishes in his last eight starts.
Harold Varner, first-round leader (+6600): Varner has two top-5 finishes at El Cameleon, so that’s good. He’s very strong tee to green and scores well enough to go super-low. Is it consistent? No, and that’s why he’s yet to win on Tour despite impressive stats. He does, however, do very well to begin tournaments, as evidenced by ranking 13th in first-round scoring “last” season.
Chez Reavie (+7000ish): Hits it straight as an arrow and unsurprisingly has had success here. A pair of 26th-place finishes the last two years is “meh,” but he did finish 14th and fourth in 2017 and 2016, respectively.
Jason Dufner (+25000ish): It’s a very long shot, we know. But our model loves Dufner, in large part because he’s very good on the longer par-4s in large part because of his long-iron play. As mentioned earlier, the Memorial is a decent comparison for this tournament. Dufner has won that tournament, so it’s all good enough for a scratch ticket here.