Best bets for Mayakoba Golf Classic

November 2, 2021 08:29 PM
Lucas Herbert survived windy conditions to win his first PGA Tour event and second worldwide this year at the Bermuda Championship at 66-1 by one stroke over Danny Lee and Patrick Reed. Herbert not only earned a two-year PGA Tour exemption but also an invitation to his first Masters. The Australian also returns this week at 80-1 as part of a much stronger field (seven of the Top 20 OWGR are playing) in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. 
An excellent field has been put together south of the border for the third-to-last event of 2021 on the PGA Tour. Justin Thomas (12-1) returns to Mayakoba and finished tied for 12th on debut last year. Viktor Hovland (18-1) also returns as the event's defending champion. Abraham Ancer (20-1) broke through earlier this summer to win his first PGA Tour event at the WGC: FedEx St. Jude Invitational and would love to take this one in Mexico, where he was raised. Speaking of a breakthrough, Tony Finau (25-1) earned his first PGA Tour victory at the Northern Trust in August and was T-8 here last year. October and November are Tyrrell Hatton's (28-1) time of year as five of his seven worldwide professional wins have come during those months. Billy Horschel (30-1) is aiming for his third victory in 2021 with triumphs at the WGC: Dell Match Play and the BMW Championship and was T-5 here last year. Brooks Koepka (33-1) missed this cut last year and does not come in on great form but has drifted up to a price that will attract betting interest. 
The Mayakoba Golf Classic debuted on the PGA Tour in February 2007 as an alternate event that was held opposite of the WGC Match Play. In 2013, the event was moved to November as part of the PGA Tour's Fall Series. With that move, the tournament became designated as a "full event," meaning full FedEx Cup points would be allocated along with a Masters invitation for the winner and over a 60 percent increase in the purse. The current $7.2 million purse is more than double that of the inaugural event. Earlier this year, St. Louis-based technology services provider World Wide Technology signed on as the title sponsor through 2027. 
The El Camaleon Golf Club at Mayakoba Resort was designed by Greg Norman in 2007 and plays at just over 7,000 yards (7,017) and is a 36/35 format par-71 track in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, about an hour drive south of Cancun. The course runs through dense tropical jungle, mangrove forests and oceanfront. The tree-lined fairways are of average width and constructed from Sea Isle Paspalum. The greens, of the same surface, are relatively slow on the stimpmeter (11 feet). The Paspalum green complexes are similar to what players see at the Puerto Rico Open and Corales Puntacana Championship. Low scores are the norm, and if you look at the previous winners, the driver is not required much. 
This 36/35 setup always plays easier on the outward nine, which features two of the three par-5s. 
The closing stretch from the 14th on will test the leaders come Sunday.
2020: Viktor Hovland (-20/264); 22-1
2019: Brendon Todd (-20/264); 110-1
2018: Matt Kuchar (-22/262); 60-1
2017: Patton Kizzire (-19/265); 70-1
2016: Pat Perez (-21/263); 125-1
2015: Graeme McDowell (-18/266); 33-1 *
2014: Charley Hoffman (-17/267); 60-1
2013: Harris English (-21/263); 25-1
2012: John Huh (-13/271); 35-1**
2011: Johnson Wagner (-17/267); 150-1*
2010: Cameron Beckman (-15/269); 100-1
* playoff win over Jason Bohn and Russell Knox
** playoff win over Robert Allenby
*** playoff win over Spencer Levin
El Camaleon is one of the shorter courses on the PGA Tour, so less of a premium is put on distance and more on driving accuracy.
Driving Accuracy (2021-22 season)
1. Russell Henley 76.79 percent  (86/112)
2. Abraham Ancer 76.79 percent  (64/84)
3. Graeme McDowell 75.89 percent  (85/112)
4. Ian Poulter 73.81 percent  (62/84)
5. Martin Laird 72.62 percent  (61/84)
6. Brice Garnett 72.32 percent  (81/112)
7. Viktor Hovland 72.32 percent  (81/112)
8. Kevin Streelman 72.02 percent  (121/168)
9. Tyrrell Hatton 71.43 percent  (40/56)
10. Guido Migliozzi 71.43 percent  (40/56)
Note: Percentages are fairways hit/possible fairways
Fairways Gained also measures quality driving off the tee.
Fairways Gained (Last 36 rounds)
1. Chez Reavie 76.2
2. Brendon Todd 73.4
3. Brian Stuard 61.8
4. Ryan Moore 53.9
5. Kyle Stanley 50.1
6. Brice Garnett 48.1
7. Russell Knox 43.2
8. Aaron Rai 41.6
9. Kramer Hickok 40.6
10. Russell Henley 40.3
Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee tends to have a bias based on distance but also takes accuracy very much into account.
SG: Off-The-Tee (Last 36 rounds)
1. Brooks Koepka 26.2
2. Matthew Fitzpatrick 25.1
3. Sergio Garcia 25
4. Taylor Pendrith 24.8
5. Viktor Hovland 23
6. Keith Mitchell 21.8
7. Patrick Rodgers 21.2
8. Charles Howell III 20.9
9. Jhonattan Vegas 20.8
10. Mito Pereira 19.1
While some might consider this more of a first-shot golf course than a second-shot course, strong approach play is still important for success here.
SG: Approach (Last 36 rounds)
1. Russell Henley 37.4
2. Kyle Stanley 30.5
3. Talor Gooch 28.7
4. Shane Lowry 28.3
5. Chez Reavie 28.3
6. Viktor Hovland 28
7. Henrik Norlander 24.6
8. Jhonattan Vegas 24.3
9. Carlos Ortiz 24.2
10. Keegan Bradley 23.8
This is an event in which players will need to be around 20 under to be in contention late on Sunday. Opportunities Gained measures Scoring Opportunities Gained: Birdie opportunities inside 15 feet from green or fringe PLUS Greens/Fringe Under Regulation
Opportunities Gained (Last 36 rounds)
1. Russell Henley 40.5
2. Justin Thomas 39.5
3. Carlos Ortiz 29.4
4. Viktor Hovland 28.3
5. Jhonattan Vegas 27.8
6. Emiliano Grillo 27.2
7. Shane Lowry 27.2
8. Kevin Streelman 26.6
9. Mito Pereira 25
10. Hudson Swafford 24.9
The last four winners at El Camaleon have finished at least ninth or better in the field for Greens In Regulation.
GIR Gained (Last 36 rounds)
1. Mito Pereira 40.6
2. Luke List 35.9
3. Will Zalatoris 35.6
4. Kyle Stanley 34.3
5. Sergio Garcia 33.6
6. Jhonattan Vegas 32.9
7. Shane Lowry 32.6
8. Keegan Bradley 30.2
9. Patrick Rodgers 29.2
10. Russell Henley 28.6
Six of the last eight winners have rated in the top 10 in the field for Putting.
SG Putting (Last 36 rounds)
1. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 29.9
2. Alex Noren 28.7
3. Adam Hadwin 26.5
4. Troy Merritt 26.3
5. Hank Lebioda 24.6
6. Adam Long 24.4
7. Adam Schenk 23.4
8. Abraham Ancer 22.6
9. Brian Stuard 18.2
10. Sam Ryder 17.6
Abraham Ancer 20-1
Ancer gets a home game here as he was raised in Mexico and has dual American and Mexican citizenship. He is enjoying the best year of his career, the highlight of which is a victory in the WGC: FedEx St. Jude Invitational against a stellar field. Along with that victory, he finished second at the Wells Fargo Championship and has three other top-5s to boot. He’s now on the precipice of the world’s top 10 and he arrives here in good form, off a 14th-place finish in Vegas at the CJ Cup three weeks ago.
After missing the cut on debut here in 2015, Ancer has made every cut since and has finishes of 9-21-8-12 on his four most recent visits.
Ancer is also one of the more accurate hitters off the tee and has been putting well recently.
Russell Henley 50-1
While Henley has missed two consecutive cuts at Mayakoba, he tops the field for Driving Accuracy, SG: Approach and Opportunities Gained.
He has always been a good player on coastal courses as evidenced by his 2013 Sony Open in Hawaii victory at Waialae (a strongly correlated course to El Camaleon). Henley has also fared well on other correlated courses with two top-10s at Harbour Town (RBC Heritage), and three top-10s at Sea Island (RSM Classic).
Joaquin Niemann 55-1
Niemann has a good history on coastal courses with a fifth at Kapalua in 2020 and a second on the same course earlier this year. Furthermore, he finished second this year at Waialae (Sony Open in Hawaii), where previous Mayakoba champions Patton Kizzire and Matt Kuchar have also emerged victorious. 
He also has a fifth at Harbour Town (RBC Heritage). 
He settled for a T-28 at the Zozo in Japan but opened with a 64 and was seventh best in the field for GIR. 
Rickie Fowler 55-1
Fowler was the Mayakoba runner-up in 2017.
His T-3 at the CJ Cup three weeks ago was his best finish anywhere in over 2 1/2 years. Fowler ranked first in the field for GIR, SG: Off-The-Tee and SG: Tee-To-Green.
Kevin Streelman 75-1
Streelman pops in a few statistical categories, including Driving Accuracy, Fairways Gained, Opportunities Gained and Proximity to the Hole from 100-125 yards (second over the last 36 rounds). 
He also has a solid history on coastal courses with a T-3 (2013) and T-6 (2019) at Harbour Town (RBC Heritage), T-3 (2014) at Kapalua (Tournament of Champions) and a runner-up (2020) and sixth (2018) at Pebble Beach. 
Russell Knox 80-1
Knox hit the most greens in the field last week (77.78 percent) but got caught on the wrong end of the wind Thursday morning and had to come from behind to finish T-12. 
His course form at Mayakoba is exceptional with a second, a third and a ninth, no missed cuts in eight efforts and no finishes worse than 37th.
The Scotsman also has a runner-up and a ninth at Harbour Town (RBC Heritage), which is a correlated course. 
Jhonattan Vegas 80-1
Vegas was the runner-up earlier this year at Coco Beach (another correlated course) in the Puerto Rico Open, which is one of his three runner-up finishes (Palmetto Championship, 3M Open) this season. 
He ranks top 10 in this field for SG: Off-The-Tee, SG: Approach, Opportunities Gained and GIR Gained among others. 
Portugal Masters
The final European Tour event of the season in continental Europe before two weeks in Dubai happens this weekend with the Portugal Masters. 
Matt Wallace (14-1) heads the betting board after a 14th and fourth at the Shriners and Zozo, respectively. Laurie Canter (20-1) was the 54-hole leader three weeks ago at Valderrama before finishing T-4, then followed up with a T-5 in Mallorca, but three top-5s in the last two months indicate the Englishman is knocking at the door for his first European Tour victory as he was also the runner-up last year. Thomas Pieters (22-1) and Andrew Johnston (22-1), who has two top-10s over the last month, follow in the market. Richard Bland (25-1) has three top-5s and another top-10 scattered across his last seven starts for a career year that includes him winning the British Masters earlier this summer. Min Woo Lee (28-1) finished runner-up three weeks ago at Valderrama. George Coetzee (40-1) is the defending champion. 
The Portugal Masters began as a European Tour event in 2007 and has remained on the schedule ever since. Last year's event was moved to early September due to COVID-19 rescheduling but now is moved back to late fall.
The Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura, Portugal, was designed by Arnold Palmer in 2004 and hosted the WGC World Cup in 2005 before becoming the permanent host for the Portugal Masters. It is a typically easy Palmer resort design that has been extended a bit to a 7,191-yard, par-71 layout. The track is flat and exposed with water in play on seven holes and several strategically placed fairway bunkers. 
Some trees have been added to prevent the bombers from having so much of an advantage, and the Bermuda rough has been grown to provide more penalty to errant tee shots. 
Englishman Oliver Fisher set the course record in 2018 with a 59, which was the first official round below 60 in the history of the European Tour. Even with the attempt to toughen the course, there still should be lots of birdies this week. 
The L93 Bentgrass/Poa Annua greens will roll at 10.5 on the stimpmeter. 
2020: George Coetzee (-16/268); 16-1
2019: Steven Brown (-17/267); 150-1
2018: Tom Lewis (-22/262); 50-1
2017: Lucas Bjerregaard (-20/264); 66-1
2016: Padraig Harrington (-23/261); 100-1
2015: Andy Sullivan (-23/261); 50-1
2014: Alexander Levy (-18/124); 70-1*
2013: David Lynn (-18/266); 80-1
2012: Shane Lowry (-14/270); 66-1
2011: Tom Lewis (-21/267); 100-1
2010: Richard Green (-18/270); 50-1
* Weather-shortened to 36 holes
The last two winners ranked first in the field for SG: Putting and five of the last nine were first in the field for Putts Per GIR. 
Seven of the past 11 winners had recorded a win (Coetzee, Lewis, Sullivan, Levy) or a runner-up finish (Lynn, Lowry, Green) in that season to date.
SG: Putting
1. Joakim Lagergren + 1.07 (per round)
2. Renato Paratore + 0.89
3. Alexander Björk + 0.84
4. Chris Wood + 0.78
5. Adri Arnaus + 0.77
6. Sami Välimäki + 0.75
7. George Coetzee + 0.75
8. Scott Jamieson + 0.74
9. Calum Hill + 0.68
10. Jonathan Caldwell + 0.67
George Coetzee 40-1
Coetzee is the defending champion and has never finished worse than 31st in eight career starts at this event. 
The South African is also one of the better putters on the European Tour as he ranks seventh in this field for SG: Putting. 
Adri Arnaus 40-1
Arnaus has had a few weeks to get over his near-miss in Madrid as he settled for a runner-up in search of his first European Tour victory.
The Spaniard ranks fifth in this week's field for SG: Putting. 
Eddie Pepperell 55-1
Pepperell has not been in great form this year, having missed 10 of 21 cuts, and not posting a top-10 for the season.
However, he has a very good history here, finishing as runner-up in 2018 and T-6 in 2019.
Renato Paratore 66-1
Paratore posted finishes of T-9, T-11 and T-25 on the Spanish swing and ranked sixth, second and second, respectively for SG: Putting.
The Italian ranks third on the European Tour in SG: Putting. 
Joakim Lagergren 66-1
Lagergren has a very good record on coastal courses and here at Dom Pedro Victoria with finishes of 17th (2016), 14th (2019) and third (2020).
His putter has been steadied all season (first overall on tour) as he ranked first, 19th and 15th for SG Putting over his past three starts. 
Sami Välimäki 175-1
The man from Finland has been in a "sophomore slump," missing 12 of 21 cuts in his second season on the European Tour after winning in Oman during his rookie season.
However, hot putters seem to reign supreme here, and that part of his game is still strong and ranks sixth in this week's field.
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