World Wide Technology Championship
After a week off, the PGA Tour returns to Mexico for the World Wide Technology Championship but this time at a new venue, El Cardonal Golf Club at Diamante in Cabo San Lucas. The tour and El Camaleon at Mayakoba parted ways with that course now being part of the LIV Golf schedule. It was no surprise because that course was designed by LIV CEO Greg Norman. El Cardonal is also a significant change as it was the first course designed by Tiger Woods in 2014.
Twenty-four of the Top 100 in the OWGR (just five of the top 50) are in this week's field as players have only a few events left to get into the OWGR Top 50 to earn Masters invitations. One of those players is Ludvig Aberg (9-1), who is already a DP World Tour winner and was a runner-up in the Sanderson Farms playoff a few weeks ago.
Cameron Young (12-1) is the highest-ranked player in this field at No. 17 in the OWGR and he has six runner-up finishes (seven worldwide) on the PGA Tour but still has yet to capture his first tour victory. Sahith Theegala (16-1) got the winless monkey off his back in September at the Fortinet Championship.
Lucas Glover (25-1), at 43, had one of the best years of his career with wins in consecutive weeks at the Wyndham and the FedEx St. Jude.
Stephan Jaeger (28-1) is the model of consistency as he always seems to earn a paycheck, making 22 of 24 cuts on tour this year, but has only one top-10 this season.
At 30-1 are Beau Hossler, who just earned his best tour finish in five years with a runner-up at the ZOZO Championship (three career PGA Tour runner-ups), and Emiliano Grillo, a winner earlier this year at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
The World Wide Technology Championship debuted as the Mayakoba Golf Classic 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 tournament purse. The current $8.2 million purse is nearly 2.5 times greater than the inaugural event. In 2021, 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.
El Cardonal at Diamante, which opened in 2014, is the initial foray into golf course design for Tiger Woods. It is located in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, at the Diamante Cabo San Lucas Resort located at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula in the state of Baja California Sur. It is a par-72 of 7,452 yards.
Despite having panoramic views of the sea, the course is set in desert terrain featuring cacti, palo verde trees, scrubby desert flora and encroaching desert arroyos. Those arroyos also effectively form the hazards off the fairway. There is zero rough, and errant tee shots in many cases will find a sandy or rocky location. Fairways are generous at 60 yards wide (widest on tour) in landing areas with only the Plantation Course at Kapalua featuring such wide landing areas. There are few forced carries with arroyos flanking holes rather than cutting across them in the main.
That link to Kapalua also holds further water as the El Cardonal layout is set on land that drops 240 feet along the mile-long stretch from the 17th tee to the third fairway. The undulations and this terrain will prove demanding for both players and caddies. Flat holes are few and far between with ascending (par-5 14th climbs the most at 80 feet) and descending (par-5 sixth falls the most at 70 feet) holes.
Greens (rolling at 11-12 ft on the stimpmeter) are huge at 8,300 square feet and are the second-largest on the PGA Tour. The course is Platinum Paspalum from tee to green.
Every hole basically has an open front for player to run the ball up onto the green.
Unlike El Camaleon, which was an extremely narrow golf course framed by thick mangroves that emphasized accuracy off the tee and wedge play, El Cardonal has massively wide fairways. It is more similar to Vidanta Vallarta, which hosts the Mexico Open in the spring. Both courses have wide fairways and feature Paspalum from tee through green. It can be exposed to wind, but early forecasts call for mostly calm conditions.
2022: Russell Henley (-23/261); 55-1
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 - ***
NOTE: All of the above events were played at El Camaleon at Mayakoba.
El Cardonal, with its wide fairways, looks like bombs away off the tee with few repercussions.
Driving Distance Gained (Last 50 rounds)
- Chris Gotterup 20.5
- Peter Kuest 18.3
- Kyle Westmoreland 16.2
- Cameron Champ 15.5
- Cameron Young 15.5
- Ludvig Aberg 15.1
- Chase Johnson 14.5
- Brett Grant 14.3
- Matti Schmid 14.2
- Keith Mitchell 13.1
- Trevor Cone 12.7
- Callum Tallen 12.7
- Will Gordon 11.9
- Luke List 11.9
- MJ Daffue 11.8
- Ryan Brehm 11.6
- Augusto Nunez 11
- Isaiah Salinda 10.3 (34 rounds)
Note: Average Yards Per Drive Gained on the rest of the field.
While we do not have data for El Cardonal being that this is the first PGA Tour event ever held here, approach play is still going to matter a great deal and most of the approach shots are going to be 150 yards or longer.
Strokes Gained Approach (Last 50 rounds)
- Lucas Glover 46.5
- Mark Hubbard 45.9
- Sam Ryder 36.6
- Chez Reavie 33.8
- Andrew Putnam 32.8
- Kevin Roy 30.1
- Ryan Moore 26.1
- Nate Lashley 24.5
- JJ Spaun 23.1
- Luke List 21.2
- Chesson Hadley 20.3
- David Lipsky 20.1
- Doug Ghim 19
- Charley Hoffman 18.8
- Russell Knox 18.6
- Chris Kirk 18.2
Proximity Gained 150-175 Yards (Last 50 rounds)
- Russell Knox 14.4
- Ryan Moore 12.4
- Lucas Glover 9.4
- Ben Martin 9.2
- Jason Dufner 9
- Callum Tarren 8.6
- Emiliano Grillo 8.2
- Brandon Wu 8
- Doug Ghim 7.7
- Preston Summerhays 7.6 (15 rounds)
- Sam Ryder 7.2
- Scott Piercy 7
Proximity Gained 175-200 Yards (Last 50 rounds)
- Chez Reavie 16.6
- Michael Kim 11.3
- Will Gordon 10.6
- Marty Dou 10.4
- Justin Lower 10.3
- Preston Summerhays 9.5 (15 rounds)
- Taylor Pendrith 9.4
- Lucas Glover 9.3
- Austin Eckroat 9.2
- Emiliano Grillo 8.9
- Sam Ryder 8.2
- Nate Lashley 7.9
- Greyson Sigg 7.8
- Stephan Jaeger 7.3
- Carson Young 7.1
Proximity Gained 200+ Yards (Last 50 rounds)
- Augusto Nunez 19
- Charley Hoffman 16.7
- Kevin Tway 16.5
- Peter Kuest 16.2
- Harrison Endycott 13.8
- Luke List 13.6
- Isaiah Salinda 12.6 (23 rounds)
- Matthias Schmid 12.5
- Chez Reavie 12.3
- Cameron Young 12.2
- Ryan Palmer 11.7
- Taylor Pendrith 11.6
- Justin Suh 11.6
- Ben Taylor 11.5
- Doug Ghim 11.3
NOTE: Average Feet Gained Toward the Hole from the given distance.
Even if the players receive some wind, this event will be an absolute birdie-fest and scoring conditions should be very easy.
Birdie Or Better Gained (Last 50 rounds)
- Sahith Theegala 28.8
- Ludvig Aberg 28.6
- Stephan Jaeger 22.1
- Cameron Young 21.6
- Taylor Montgomery 21.5
- Marty Dou 19.9
- Scott Piercy 19
- Peter Kuest 18
- MJ Daffue 17.9
- Harry Hall 17.5
- Luke List 16.9
- Doug Ghim 16.4
- Lucas Glover 16.1
- Emiliano Grillo 15.5
- Ben Martin 15.3
- Davis Riley 15.1
- Will Gordon 14.8
- Adam Svensson 14.2
Strokes Gained Total Easy Scoring Conditions (Last 50 rounds)
- Taylor Montgomery 64.1
- Robby Shelton 52.7
- Doug Ghim 45.2
- Andrew Putnam 44.8
- Tyler Duncan 44.4
- Stephan Jaeger 43.7
- Cameron Young 43.2
- JJ Spaun 41.9
- Ben Griffin 40.4
- Callum Tarren 40.4
- Davis Thompson 40.3
Three of the four par-5s are eagle opportunities.
Strokes Gained Par 5s (Last 50 rounds)
- Davis Thompson 31.1
- Stephan Jaeger 23.9
- Scott Harrington 21
- Ludvig Aberg 20.4
- Peter Kuest 17.2
- KH Lee 16.5
- Matt Kuchar 16
- Zac Blair 15.4
- Erik van Rooyen 15.4
- Cameron Young 13.4
Players only see Paspalum greens a couple of times per year.
Strokes Gained Putting Paspalum Greens (Last 50 rounds)
- Brandon Wu 14.4 (24 rounds)
- Davis Riley 9.4 (14 rounds)
- Cameron Champ 8.8 (18 rounds)
- Emiliano Grillo 7.3 (50 rounds)
- Kelly Kraft 7 (48 rounds)
- Ben Taylor 6.8 (20 rounds)
- Nate Lashley 6.3 (40 rounds)
- Chez Reavie 6.1 (48 rounds)
- Akshay Bhatia 5.5 (22 rounds)
- Adam Long 5 (26 rounds)
Paspalum greens will always run at average to slower speed, so it is good to look at that as well with the limited data on Paspalum.
Strokes Gained Putting Average Speed Greens (Last 50 rounds)
- Matt Kuchar 37.2
- Richy Werenski 33.6
- Adam Long 32.3
- Brandt Snedeker 24.7
- Justin Lower 21.9
- Harry Higgs 21.1
- Beau Hossler 21
- Peter Malnati 20.6
- Maverick McNealy 18.5
- Harry Hall 18.3
- Troy Merritt 18.3
There are expanded bunkers at El Cardonal, so it is fair to account for at least a small bit of bunker play.
Sand Saves Gained (Last 50 rounds)
- Matt Kuchar 10.9
- David Lingmerth 9.7
- Lanto Griffin 8.7
- Maverick McNealy 8.6
- Austin Cook 8.3
- Harry Hall 8.2
- Tano Goya 7.6
- Richy Werenski 6.7
- Peter Kuest 6.5
- Peter Malnati 6.4
- Isaiah Salinda 6.2 (34 rounds)
Akshay Bhatia (40-1, FanDuel)
Bhatia earned his first PGA Tour win at the Barracuda Championship earlier this summer. However, that is an alternate event, so he has not earned the Masters invitation for next year as of yet.
This week could be a good opportunity to do so as Bhatia was a great record on Paspalum. He won the 2022 Bahamas Great Exuma Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour and finished fourth in his title defense there earlier this year. He also finished runner-up earlier this year in the Puerto Rico Open, plus he was fourth at Vidanta Vallarta for the Mexico Open.
Cameron Champ (55-1, Circa Sports)
Champ has always been good at Vidanta Vallarta with a top-8 finish in each of the last two years and finished 11th on debut on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, so it would not shock to see him contend this week.
Before the disappointment at the ZOZO, Champ finished 18th at the Shriners and ninth at the Sanderson Farms, so he is not far removed from good form. He also needs a good finish to move inside the top 125 in the FedEx rankings (he's 127th) and secure his card.
Brandon Wu (80-1, Circa Sports)
Wu finished the regular FedEx season in 57th and, therefore, in prime position for a place in the all-important ‘next 10’ from 50-60. However, a couple of down efforts to follow in the Sanderson Farms (62nd) and ZOZO (51st) have seen him slip to 65th, giving him everything to play for in these last couple of weeks.
He should pop this week as he is always a factor on coastal golf courses. He was T-2 at Pebble Beach earlier this year along with a third at the aforementioned Vidanta Vallarta, while also being runner-up on the same course the year prior. Finishes of T-3 at the Puerto Rico Open and T-6 at the Scottish Open in 2022 also indicate a player comfortable on the coast.
Peter Kuest (100-1, Circa Sports)
The 25-year-old from Fresno has Special Temporary Membership thanks to four top-25 finishes, including a fourth in July's Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Kuest actually had to qualify two weeks ago for this event at Enagic Golf Club in Chula Vista, Calif. He is one of the biggest bombers off the tee in this field and should go low this week.
Matti Schmid (110-1, FanDuel)
Schmid was the runner-up two weeks ago at the Andalucia Masters in Spain on the DP World Tour two weeks ago.
He sits 148th in the FedEx Cup standings and needs a strong week to secure his spot on the PGA Tour for next season.
Harry Hall (135-1, Circa Sports)
Hall is another player under the radar who has very good form on Paspalum having finished seventh in Puerto Rico, 10th in the Mexico Open and 13th at the Corales Puntacana.
Accuracy off the tee has been a problem, but that should be mitigated with the wide fairways, so his short game (4th on tour for SG: Putting) should flourish here.
Any other outright, placement or matchup bets will be posted at VSiN.com/picks on Wednesday