Fred Funk gained the inaugural version of the Mayakoba Golf Classic as lately as 2007. The first six editions of the occasion, previously generally known as the OHL Classic, had been performed in February as an reverse subject occasion to the WGC Match Play earlier than it switched to this November slot within the schedule seven years in the past.
It’s an occasion that will get stronger yr on yr and though the world primary, Dustin Johnson, sadly withdrew on the weekend, we nonetheless have the likes of Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka in attendance this time round.
This is the ultimate PGA Tour occasion of 2020.
El Camaleón Golf Club, Playa del Carmen, México.
Par 70, 7, 017 yards
Stroke common in 2019 – 70.09
Designed by Greg Norman and opened in 2004, El Camaleón is described as a ‘distinctive monitor’ that takes in three differing landscapes – tropical jungle, dense mangroves, and oceanfront. There’s even a cenote, which is an underground cavern widespread to the world, in the midst of the primary fairway.
It’s a wind-affected, coastal monitor with smaller than common Sea Isle Paspalum greens that can run no quicker than 11 on the stimpmeter.
It was the hardest of the eight tracks used on the PGA Tour that measured lower than 7,000 yards in 2012, with 11 holes averaging over-par, however having switched to November and having been performed in benign circumstances, it is performed a lot simpler over the past seven years virtually precisely averaging it is par, with the six winners all reaching at the very least 17-under-par. Matt Kuchar set the match report in 2018 when he received to 22-under and final yr’s winner, Brenden Todd, amassed a 20-unde-par 264 complete.
There have been no adjustments to the format forward of this yr’s renewal however the lengthening of the par 4 sixteenth gap by 30 yards had the specified impact earlier than the off final yr. It was the toughest gap on the course in 2019, averaging 4.35.
Live on Sky Sports all 4 days, beginning at 19:00 on Thursday.
Last Five Winners with Pre-event Exchange Prices
2019 – Brendon Todd -20 110.0109/1
2018 – Matt Kuchar -22 85.084/1
2017 – Patton Kizzire -19 85.084/1
2016 – Pat Perez -21 150.0149/1
2015 – Graeme McDowell -18 40.039/1
What Will it Take to Win the Mayakoba Golf Classic?
I have not received any stats for the inaugural occasion however the 12 winners since have a median Driving Distance rating of 36.25 and a median Driving Accuracy rating of 32.66 so stats-wise, what you do off the tee right here is not particularly vital however I’d positively favour accuracy over size. Last yr’s winner, Brendon Todd, ranked solely 79th for DD, in comparison with twenty fifth for DA and there are definitely a couple of holes had been an errant drive means huge hassle.
Todd ranked third for Greens In Regulation and that is normally a key stat given 5 of the final six winners have ranked contained in the top-11 for GIR.
The final two winners have topped the Par 4 Scoring stats and in 2017, Patton Kizzire and Rickie Fowler, who completed first and second, ranked first and second. Every single winner has ranked contained in the top-seven for Par 4 Scoring.
Getting up-and-down has appeared extra vital than placing in every of the final two years. Todd ranked fourth for Scrambling and eighth for Putting Average and 12 months earlier, 4 of the top-five ranked fifth or higher for Scrambling.
The 2018 winner, Kuchar, solely had a Putting Average rating of forty first however the two winners earlier than him had a PA rating of fourth and it will have been good to see some Strokes Gained Putting stats over the past 4 years as a result of the three winners earlier than Pat Perez in 2016 all ranked primary for that stat. Unfortunately, they have not produced any SGP stats for any of the final 4 editions however a great week with the flat-stick seems important.
Is There an Angle In?
There are loads of actually sturdy course correlations to think about right here – virtually too many!
The solely different programs encountered yearly on the PGA Tour that now use Paspalum grass are the Trump International Golf Club, host of the Puerto Rico Open, and the Corales Golf Club within the Dominican Republic, which hosts the Corales Puntacana Championship and each correlate properly.
The 2018 runner-up, Danny Lee, has additionally completed second in Puerto Rico and the 2011 winner right here, Johnson Wagner, completed second in Puerto Rico final yr. The Corales Puntacana Championship has solely been a PGA Tour occasion for 3 years however the 2015 winner, right here, Graeme McDowell, gained the occasion final yr, 12 months after Brice Garnett, who was fifth on this occasion two years in the past, had gained the primary version on the PGA Tour.
It’s outdated type now, and it was a stronger occasion than this, however type on the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, earlier than they modified the grass from Paspalum to Bermuda is value a glance given the 2016 winner right here, Pat Perez, gained in Malaysia in 2017 and two different actually sturdy occasion/course correlations to discover are the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Links and the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club.
Brian Gay, McDowell and Kuchar have all gained this occasion and the RBC and following Kuchar’s win right here two years in the past, and his victory on the Sony Open final yr, a feat additionally achieved by Patton Kizzire the yr earlier than, as many as 4 gamers have gained this occasion and the Sony Open. Kuchar and Kizzire and Mark Wilson and Johnson Wagner have all gained each occasions. The 2013 winner, Harris English, who led at midway earlier than ending fifth final yr, has a ninth, a fourth a 3rd positioned end within the Sony and Robert Allenby has completed second within the two tournaments. A variety of different gamers have performed nicely at each venues so type there may be nicely value trying out.
There’s additionally a hyperlink between this venue and TPC Southwind, which hosts the WGC FedEx St Jude and one final occasion to peruse is the Ellie Mae Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour.
The first and second on the Ellie Mae Classic on the Web.Com Tour in 2016, Martin Piller and Brandon Harkins, each contended right here three years in the past, as did the 2015 EMC winner, Si Woo Kim, and given the hyperlink already established between this occasion and each the Sony and the Puerto Rico Open, the 2014 end result, which noticed Tony Finau beat Fabián Gómez, stands out like a sore thumb. And El Camaleón specialist, Russel Knox, was runner-up on the Ellie Mae Classic again in 2011.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
Fred Funk set the tone when he gained the inaugural occasion on the age of fifty and Todd definitely fitted the mould final yr given, he was 35 in July and that the typical age of the dozen winners earlier than him was 34.92.
John Huh, who was 21 in 2012 and Harris English, who was 24 in 2013, are the one winners that hadn’t reached the age of 30 once they gained right here. Kuchar, similar to the 2016 winner, Perez, had simply turned 40 in 2018 so age isn’t any barrier however fancied gamers do not have an excellent report…
The 2010 and 2011 winners, Cameron Beckman and Johnson Wagner, had been treble-figure priced outsiders Perez was a 150.0149/1 likelihood. Last yr’s winner was typically a [110.0 chance but he drifted all the way out to 190.0189/1 on the day before the off and Kizzire and Kuchar, the two winners before Todd, both went off at around 85.084/1. And although priced in the double-figure bracket, the four winners between and 2012 and 2015 weren’t especially well-fancied either.
Kizzire, Brian Gay and John Huh are the only three winners to break their PGA Tour ducks in the event so the majority of winners had already tasted victory. That’s not entirely surprising given the average age of the winners.
Winner’s Position and Exchange Price Pre-Round Four
2019 – Brendon Todd led by one stroke *
2018 – Matt Kuchar led by four strokes 1.538/15
2017 – Patton Kizzire led by one stroke *
2016 – Pat Perez 2- trailing by one 5.14/1
2015 – Graeme McDowell T3 – trailing by three 9.617/2
* The 2017 & 2019 editions were interrupted by the weather so there weren’t breaks in play in-between rounds three and four. It was therefore not possible to capture the pre-round four prices
Todd sat second after an opening 63 last year, trailing by just one. He was third and two back at halfway but he led through three rounds and the two winners before him, Kuchar and Kizzire, both won wire-to-wire. Every winner has shot a round in the 60s to kick the event off and, with the exception of Perez four years ago, every winner has been inside the top-ten and no more than four adrift at halfway. Perez sat tied for 11th and five back, so you clearly need to be up with the pace but until 2017, in front with a round to go hadn’t been the ideal spot with five of the previous six winners coming from outside of the lead through 54 holes. The last three third round leaders have all won.
The first and second are tricky holes (ranked fourth and seventh hardest last year) but the front-nine, which contains two of the three par fives (holes five and seven) is much easier than the second nine. The par five 13th is the easiest hole on the course year after year but five of the six hardest holes are all encountered late on. Holes 12, 14, 16, 17 and 18 last year ranked as the fifth, third, first, sixth and second hardest.
World number three, Justin Thomas, hasn’t been back here since his debut in 2014, when he finished tied for 23rd before but I think he’s going to lap it up this time.
Thomas’ first two PGA Tour wins came back-to-back at the CIMB Classic in 2015 and 2016, when it was still a Paspalum track, and in January 2016 he won consecutive events in Hawaii – the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the aforementioned Sony Open (which he won by seven strokes!). Since then, he’s won another nine PGA Tour titles including a US PGA Championship and a couple of WGCs and the latest of his 13 wins to date was the FedEx St Jude in August this year so he has an abundance of form at courses that correlate with this one.
Thomas has form figures at the WGC-Mexico Championship that read 5-2-9-6 and he returns to the country with current form figures reading 3-8-12-2-4. This hasn’t been a great tournament for favourites but good luck if you’re laying this year’s. I think you’ll need it.
With a fifth at the Houston Open and a seventh in the US Masters, Brooks Koepka is slowly returning to form after injury. He missed the cut here on his only start in 2013 but I think we can ignore that. Brooks finished second to Thomas at the FedEx St Jude back in August, an event he always plays well in, so this should be right up his street but he’s a notoriously better player in majors than he is in ordinary PGA Tour events and that has to be considered carefully.
Harris English is in sparkling form but he was playing well this time last year too when he went off at 60/1 in a weaker renewal. He hasn’t won since he took this title seven years (one of only two won) and his third round at the RSM Classic was a bit of a worry last time out too.
Poised to challenge going into the weekend, sitting fifth and four off the lead, he shot 72 to fall nine back and tied 19th before rallying on Sunday to finish tied for sixth, beaten by three. He loves this track and he’s in fine fettle but he wasn’t good enough to get over the line last year and that’s my concern. He’s starting to become expensive to follow.
I usually back a plethora of outsiders in this event and no doubt at least one or two will feature in the Find Me a 100 Winner later today or tomorrow but for now, my sole bet is on Justin Thomas at 8.615/2.
The weather forecast isn’t great, and we could easily get another Monday finish here, so how that affects him and the other star names is a potential issue but I really can’t work out how he fails to contend here.
Of course, there’s a chance that he’s had enough for the year and he’s already in downtime mode but if he turns up and plays how he’s played the last couple of months (which is still below his absolute best) he’s going to take an awful lot of beating.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter