Best bets for PGA World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba

November 1, 2022 05:05 PM
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Seamus Power followed up three rounds of 65 with a final-day 70 to edge Belgium’s Thomas Detry by one shot at last weekend's Butterfield Bermuda Championship. Power won his second career PGA Tour event at a price of 25-1 and has reached a career-high of 32nd in the OWGR. The Irishman is firmly on the radar of European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald. Patrick Rodgers, Ben Griffin and Yu Chun-An finished T-3 and rounded out the top 5. Our nearest tip was 250-1 long-shot Monday qualifier Aaron Baddeley, who was in Saturday's final group and was two strokes back starting Sunday's final round but fell to a T-6 finish.

Power (50-1) makes the trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, to play in this week's World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. Scottie Scheffler (9-1) lost his OWGR No. 1 ranking to Rory McIlroy two weeks ago at the CJ Cup but can get it back with a victory at Mayakoba, where he finished fourth last year. Viktor Hovland (11-1) is looking for a three-peat as he is the two-time defending champion of this event. Billy Horschel (18-1) has three consecutive top-10 finishes leading up to this week and finished fifth here in 2020 and eighth in 2019. Collin Morikawa (18-1) is still winless in 2022 but won the DP World Tour's Race to Dubai around this time last year. Tony Finau (18-1) has two top-10s for this event in 2014 and 2020.

Aaron Wise (20-1) was the runner-up to Hovland in 2020. Maverick McNealy (30-1) has made the cut four straight times in this event and has three consecutive finishes of 18th or better leading up to this week. Taylor Montgomery (35-1) had four consecutive top-10 finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour and has not finished lower than 15th in his four events since becoming a full-fledged PGA Tour member. Tom Hoge (35-1) finished third here in 2020 and comes in with three top-10 finishes in his last five events. Emiliano Grillo (40-1) has two top-5 finishes in his last four events leading up to this week and also has three top-10 finishes in six appearances at Mayakoba.

There is a much stronger field this week with 13 of the top 50 ranked players in the world in attendance. Taking it a step further, 24 of the world’s top 75 will be at Mayakoba.

​The Event

The Mayakoba Golf Classic debuted on the PGA Tour in February 2007 as an alternate event that was held opposite 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 that full FedEx Cup points would be allocated along with a Masters invitation for the winner and over a 60% increase in the overall tournament purse. The current $8.2 million purse is nearly 2.5 times greater than the inaugural event. Last year, St. Louis-based technology services provider World Wide Technology, named as one of the 100 Most Influential Companies by Time Magazine, signed on as the title sponsor of the tournament through 2027.

This year will be the last year that this event will be held at El Camaleon as the course, designed by Greg Norman, will be hosting a LIV event next year.

The Course

The scenic El Camaleon Golf Club is a resort course that was designed by Norman in 2006 and has been the host course for this event each year since 2007. It is part of the all-inclusive Mayakoba Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and sits about 50 miles south of Cancun near the northeastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. The track is the ninth shortest on the PGA Tour and plays at just over 7,000 yards (7,034) and is a 36-35 format par-71 layout. The course runs through dense tropical jungle, mangrove forests and oceanfront. The tree-lined fairways, which protect the players from the wind even though this is a coastal resort course, are of average width and constructed from Sea Isle Paspalum. The rough at two inches is not all that penal, but the jungles and canals can punish errant tee shots. Because of the Paspalum surfaces, the ball tends to sit up higher on this grass, which allows for elite ball-strikers to have the most success. The greens, of the same surface, are relatively slow on the stimpmeter (10 feet). The Paspalum green complexes (7,000 square-foot average, ninth largest on tour) are similar to what players see at the Puerto Rico Open and Corales Puntacana Championship. Low scores are the norm here and if you look at the previous winners, the driver is not required much.

As for the course layout itself, the four par-3s are the easiest on tour, averaging 2.87 per hole. Three of the four holes measure under 155 yards with the 116-yard fourth hole playing as one of the shortest anywhere. Meanwhile, the three par-5s are also among the shortest and easiest on tour as well. The longest plays at just over 570 yards, making all three reachable in two shots provided the wind cooperates. The five par-4s that measure over 450 yards are the tougher holes on the course.

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 onward will test the leaders come Sunday.

Correlated courses to El Camaleon include Waialae, Port Royal, Sedgefield, Sea Island, Harbour Town, Corales and Pebble Beach.

Recent History/Winners

2021: Viktor Hovland (-23/261); 18-1

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

Statistical Analysis​​

Jungles, mangrove wetlands and canals surround many of the fairways, so Driving Accuracy is important as it is around 5% tougher than tour average. Distance means little, but hitting fairways is even more important than normal.

Fairways Gained (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Scottie Scheffler 40.8
  2. Collin Morikawa 37.2
  3. Tony Finau 36.7
  4. Aaron Rai 33.9
  5. Doug Ghim 32.7
  6. Paul Haley II 31.9
  7. Ryan Armour 29.5
  8. Hayden Buckley 28.5
  9. Russell Henley 28.3
  10. Will Gordon 26.9
  11. Chez Reavie 25.8
  12. Greyson Sigg 25.8
  13. Emiliano Grillo 25.4
  14. Tom Hoge 25.1
  15. David Lipsky 24.9

The greens are large, soft and slow and encourage players to fire at the pins.

Strokes Gained: Approach (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Russell Henley 35.7
  2. Tony Finau 30.1
  3. Collin Morikawa 29.8
  4. Tom Hoge 29.6
  5. Scottie Scheffler 26.5
  6. Mark Hubbard 26
  7. Lee Hodges 23.5
  8. Erik Van Rooyen 17.6
  9. Davis Riley 16.8
  10. Adam Svensson 16.4
  11. Sebastian Munoz 15.6
  12. Chez Reavie 15.5
  13. Aaron Wise 15.1
  14. Adam Long 14.2
  15. Sam Ryder 14

Opportunities Gained measure 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 29.6
  2. Tom Hoge 29.1
  3. Scottie Scheffler 28.3
  4. Davis Riley 23.2
  5. Collin Morikawa 22.9
  6. Aaron Wise 20.2
  7. Kevin Streelman 19.4
  8. Mark Hubbard 17.7
  9. John Huh 17
  10. Tony Finau 16.9
  11. Lucas Glover 16.5
  12. Byeong Hun An 15.3
  13. Hayden Buckley 15
  14. Chez Reavie 14.9
  15. Emiliano Grillo 14.9
  16. James Hahn 14.4

Paspalum is a unique surface that is only played on for a handful of PGA Tour events.

Strokes Gained: Paspalum (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Emiliano Grillo 48
  2. Tony Finau 47
  3. Billy Horschel 46.1
  4. Nate Lashley 45.8 (32 rounds)
  5. Russell Knox 45
  6. Ryan Moore 41.3 (30 rounds)
  7. Kelly Kraft 38.6
  8. Adam Long 38.5 (20 rounds)
  9. Danny Lee 38.2
  10. Brandon Wu 36.6 (20 rounds)
  11. J.T. Poston 33.4 (30 rounds)
  12. Brendon Todd 31.5
  13. Patrick Rodgers 30.7
  14. Aaron Wise 30.1 (20 rounds)
  15. Aaron Baddeley 28.8

The greens here at El Camaleon are some of the slowest at just 10 feet on the stimpmeter.

Strokes Gained: Putting Slow Greens (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Andrew Putnam 1.5
  2. J.T. Poston 1.3
  3. Kramer Hickok 1.1
  4. Patton Kizzire 0.8
  5. Sebastian Munoz 0.8
  6. Brendon Todd 0.7
  7. Brian Harman 0.6
  8. Matt Kuchar 0.6
  9. Troy Merritt 0.6
  10. Aaron Baddeley 0.5
  11. Martin Laird 0.5

Note: Strokes Gained Per Round

Selections​

Collin Morikawa (18-1, Superbook Sports)

Morikawa makes his debut at El Camaleon, but he looks to be a perfect fit for this course.

Approach shots should matter the most and Morikawa has ranked second, first and third for Strokes Gained: Approach on the PGA Tour in the previous three seasons.

He also ranks second in this field for Fairways Gained and fifth for Opportunities Gained over the last 36 rounds despite not being in his typical peak form.

Tom Hoge (35-1, Caesars Sportsbook)

Hoge has been in as good of form as anyone of late as his last five events read as follows: fifth at the Tour Championship (72-hole scores), T-12 at the Fortinet, T-4 at the Shriners Children's Open, T-9 at the ZOZO Championship and T-13 at the CJ Cup in South Carolina.

He also won for us at 60-1 earlier this year at Pebble Beach, so he is comfortable on shorter, coastal layouts.

Hoge also has to be in a positive frame of mind, not only with his golf game but because his TCU Horned Frogs are still undefeated in football.

Emiliano Grillo (35-1, Caesars Sportsbook)

Argentine Grillo is well acquainted with resort-style golf and is typically a fixture on the first page of leaderboards in Puerto Rico (lost the 2015 playoff at the Puerto Rico Open) and has three top-10s in six appearances here.

Grillo also comes in on good form this fall, finishing fourth at the ZOZO and T-5 at the Sanderson Farms.

Two years ago, he also led here after 36 and 54 holes.

Thomas Detry (42-1, Circa Sports)

Detry added yet another runner-up finish last weekend in Bermuda. He now has seven combined on the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour without a victory.

He is termed by some as the "European Finau" for finding ways not to get into the winner's circle.

However, this is a very talented player whose game has been on an upswing of late, and over the summer he added JP Fitzgerald, former longtime Rory McIlroy caddie, to the bag.

Taylor Montgomery (44-1, Circa Sports)

Montgomery has two top-10 finishes and no finish lower than 15th since he recently graduated from the Korn Ferry Tour to the PGA Tour.

He is well acquainted with resort-style golf considering most of the events played on the Korn Ferry Tour are resort-style courses.

Jason Day (50-1, DraftKings)

In his past two starts, the former No. 1 player in the world has gained an average of 6.9 strokes on the field from tee to green.

In his last start (11th at the CJ Cup), Day posted four rounds in the 60s for the first time in two years.

This is an event in which veteran players in winless droughts like Matt Kuchar and Pat Perez have gotten off the schneid.

Andrew Putnam (52-1, Circa Sports)

Putnam finished T-2 three weeks ago in Japan at the ZOZO.

He has a good history on resort courses winning on the Korn Ferry Tour in Panama in 2017 and finishing runner-up at Waialae in the 2019 Sony Open.

Putnam is also a terrific putter on slower greens and should take well to the Paspalum.

Sebastian Munoz (70-1, DraftKings)

Munoz is another player with good history on correlated courses having finished third twice in the RSM Classic at Sea Island.

This is Munoz's third start off a nearly two-month layoff, and the Colombian has a great deal of experience on Paspalum golf courses.

Brady Kannon’s selections

I have actually played the El Camaleon Course at Mayakoba on a recent family vacation to Riviera Maya, Mexico. It is a beautiful resort course that meanders through jungle-like areas and also features a few holes right along the coastline. The Paspalum greens are soft and spongy like Poa Annua but putt much more true than Poa Annua, I felt. We've seen players win here at Mayakoba that are not known as great putters, by the way. Driving Accuracy is key, but I felt it was more in a positional sense than just finding fairways safely. Viktor Hovland being your two-time defending champ tells you a lot. Like I said, one doesn't have to be a great putter — Hovland is not — but he is one heck of a ball striker, both on approach and off of the tee.

As far as correlated courses this week, I used Harbour Town, home to the RBC Heritage. I've played that course, too, and accuracy and ball striking definitely fit here as well. Sedgefield CC, where they hold the Wyndham and TPC Sawgrass, home to The Players Championship, were the other two courses I felt matched up well. All ball-striker courses where accuracy tends to trump distance and being a great putter is not necessarily required.

Emiliano Grillo (40-1)

Grillo definitely fits the ball striker/shaky putter description. Like Hovland, Grillo is both long off of the tee and very accurate. He hits a ton of greens in regulation and already has two top-5 finishes during this Fall Series. He's finished second in the past at Harbour Town, 11th at the Players and has three top-10 finishes at Mayakoba.

Russell Henley (45-1)

Henley's most recent top-5 finish was at the Wyndham Championship last August, so I like that he has very recent success at one of the correlated courses. Henley finished last season ranked second on tour in Strokes Gained: Approach. He was 14th in Driving Accuracy and seventh in Greens in Regulation. Henley has also finished top-10 at Harbour Town twice and three times at the Wyndham. He has a 13th and a 17th-place finish in his visits to TPC Sawgrass.

Adam Svensson (175-1)

Svensson has made the cut in all four events he's played during this wrap-around season, including a 12th at the Fortinet in Napa. He ended last season 41st in Stokes Gained Approach, 40th in Driving Accuracy, 61st in Greens in Regulation and 26th in Birdie Average. Over the last 24 rounds on courses less than 7,200 yards long, Svensson is 20th in the field in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. What he's done on the comp courses is average, but at this price, I felt his game was worthy of a shot.

Chez Reavie (175-1)

Reavie ranks very high in this field for the stats I considered this week, top 5 in Approach, Ball Striking and Driving Accuracy. He's finished fourth at Mayakoba in the past as well as 14th. He also has two top-10 finishes at the Wyndham in his career. He finished last season ranked 22nd on tour for Strokes Gained: Approach and fifth in Driving Accuracy.

Tyler Duncan (200-1)

Like Reavie, Duncan is not very long off of the tee but is extremely accurate, and we've seen him at his best on shorter courses that put an emphasis on accuracy. He's won at Sea Island in Georgia, took 12th last year at Harbour Town, and has a 13th-place finish at the Wyndham. He also has a 15th at Colonial and a 25th at the Valspar, two other shorter ball-striker-type courses. Obviously a long shot, but I like how his skill set fits this golf course.

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