MAYAKOBA GOLF PREVIEW
Before we head into this Mayakoba golf preview, last week was a definite minus week. No luck on the DP World Tour but a short place with Patrick Rodgers ensured it wasn’t a whitewash! JUSTIN LAWER & SCOTT BROWN at 250/1 was in position heading into the weekend at Bermuda and I was excited about how the weekend would unfold.
However, you couldn’t watch much of the coverage in the UK anyway but BROWN carded a +10 on day 3 and fell right out of contention. Wallop.
Therefore, we dust ourselves down, get back to the grind and start to find some form for this week. A week where we find many of the top players heading to Mexico for the WTT at Mayakoba Classic or whatever it’s called now.
Irony ahoy, on a week where LIV Golf celebrated an exciting climax to their inaugural season, the PGA Tour heads south to a Greg Norman course which is touted to transfer into the hands of LIV in 2023.
For us mere mortals, this is an opportunity to enjoy a plethora of talent across this week’s event. I suspect this week and next week in Houston may be the last time for the year. If you wanted to play free Waggle Duff Fantasy Golf and join in the fun! Click here.
The top of the leaderboard is headed by;
TOP OF THE FIELD
Scottie Scheffler 8/1
Viktor Hovland 9/1
Tony Finau 16/1
Aaron Wise 18/1
Billy Horschel 18/1
Collin Morikawa 18/1
A strong top-of-the-field at an event that VIKTOR HOVLAND clearly loves. He is the two-time defending champion. I like how he is off the tee, he putts well on the paspalum greens, compared to other greens. Finally, the chipping which is a concern is softened on this course and is not as important.
PREVIOUS MAYAKOBA WINNERS
|2021||Viktor Hovland (2)||261||−23||4 strokes||Carlos Ortiz|
|2020||Viktor Hovland||264||−20||1 stroke||Aaron Wise|
|2019||Brendon Todd||264||−20||1 stroke||Adam Long|
|2018||Matt Kuchar||262||−22||1 stroke||Danny Lee|
|2017||Patton Kizzire||265||−19||1 stroke||Rickie Fowler|
|2016||Pat Perez||263||−21||2 strokes||Gary Woodland|
|2015||Graeme McDowell||266||−18||Playoff||Jason Bohn|
|2014||Charley Hoffman||267||−17||1 stroke||Shawn Stefani|
|2013||Harris English||263||−21||4 strokes||Brian Stuard|
|2012||John Huh||271||−13||Playoff||Robert Allenby|
EL CHAMALEON – WTT at MAYAKOBA COURSE
El Chamaleon once more hosts this version of the Mayakoba Classic, an event that has had several names & sponsors over the years.
The pictures on google make you believe that the course is coastal. It’s not that coastal. A Lot of the course sends you through a tropical, jungle environment as you snake through the property.
This makes El Chamaleon a very narrow course and subsequently a thinkers course. It’s all about hitting the fairway and getting into position off the tee. There are man-made lagoons and limestone canals that weave through the property, coming into play in all but 3 of the holes.
The greens are Paspalm which runs slow. Some of the players that putt well on this type of green include LONG, GRILLO (home player) and FINAU. The slow greens are also quite flat, which will allow players to get up and down from spots that could be considered short-sided on another course.
The key stat compared to other PGA Tour events is Driving Accuracy. This week El Camaleon golf course ranks 5th in importance off the tee but ranks between 32nd and 47th in any other statistic.
This means, with the narrow fairways, and the harsh penalties for errant tee shots, we need to find players that are machine-like from the tee and can get into position. I am not as concerned with putting this week but will run the model with it weighted to see any findings. I will explain why I believe putting is equalised across the field a little more this week vs other PGA Tour events.
MAYAKOBA GOLF PREVIEW – THE WINNING FORMULA
When thinking about courses like this, I immediately just go to BRIAN HARMAN before I even look at rickrungood.com.
Fortunately, my gut isn’t too far away with HARMAN. You will see he ranks 12 in my model and the lefty is good off the tee albeit not long. He has some solid form with finishes of 23rd, 15th, 21st, 35th and 3rd at the FedEx St Jude.
As I build my model, I have weighted towards off the tee; 18% driving accuracy and 10% SG OTT.
I also weighted towards SG at Chamlaeon historically at 8%. This is because this is a unique challenge, and one which certain players will come here looking forward to. HOVLAND has won here twice, HORSCHEL has 2 top 10s in the last 4 years and ex-champion TODD has followed up his win with an 8th and 11th place in recent years.
My Model – Based on the last 32 rounds
- SG OTT – 10%
- SG APR -10%
- SG ARG – 5%
- SG T2G -105
- SG P 8%
- SG OTT LAST 12 RDS – 5%
- DRIVING ACCURACY- 18%
- APR 75-100YDS – 5%
- APR 100-125 YDS – 10%
- PUTTING INSIDE 10’ – 6%
- SG EL CHAMALEON – 8%
Top 25 from the model
- Scottie Scheffler
- Tony Finau
- Russell Henley
- Aaron Wise
- Billy Horschel
- Kevin Streelman
- Collin Morikawa
- Viktor Hovland
- Martin Laird
- Matt Kuchar
- Keith Mitchell
- Aaron Rai
- Tom Hoge
- Jason Day
- Hayden Buckley
- Emiliano Grillo
- Brian Harman
- Joel Dahmen
- David Lipsky
- Will Gordon
- Brendon Todd
- Henrik Norlander
- Francesco Molinari
- Sebastian Munoz
- Greyson Sigg
The weather for Thursday and Friday looks wet with light showers. This won’t change my line too much when it comes to my picks. If anything the added element of light showers throughout both the first two days plays into that controlled ball striker that we are looking for. One that plots and paves his way around the course.
We may have some thunder and lightning on Thursday, but it’s Monday night as I write this and things could well change.
MAYAKONA GOLF PREVIEW – PICKS
This week I wanted to lean towards someone at the top of the leaderboard. HOVLAND, FINAU, SCHEFFLER & MORIKAWA piqued my interest with MORIKAWA being someone I can see the market ignoring due to a disappointing 2022. A track like this does however suit his game because it’s all about position and pinpoint accuracy, something he has in abundance.
However, I have gone with in-form FINAU at 18/1 to win. Finau ranked 2nd in my model, boasting more strokes gained in totality vs #1 SCHEFFLER. This year FINAU has won twice, which is a big deal. Many jokes have been slung at FINAU up until the Northern Trust in 2021 about whether he would actually win again!
This year he has followed up with victories at the 3M and Rocket Mortgage, which were back-to-back. FINAU is an elite player, so it’s no surprise to see him picking up on average 1.73 shots on the field when it comes to T2G strokes gained.
It could be said to put SCHEFF, TONY, COLLIN & HOVLAND in a hat and draw one out but TONY is 18/1 and SHEFF is at 9/1 on many bookies. Double the value and arguably better form from FINAU in the 2nd half of the year.
I could build a model for the Japan Ladies Tour and I am sure HENLEY would trend well in my model. He pops up most weeks without failure. There are players like him and the absent MITO & ZALATORIS who just seem to lead models even when not in form.
HENLEY is one that I am more confident in this week due to the fact he is the most accurate off the tee in the whole field, based on the previous 6 months of golf. I need to pray that the often “cold” putter warms up. However, there aren’t any easier places to find your stroke than at El Chamaleon.
At 40/1 at 10 places feels like good value for a player who is the epitome of accuracy. When it comes to putting I will explain in my next pick why I still see the value.
A similar thought process has led me to the already mentioned BRIAN HARMAN. To be fair, HARMAN has a little more about him than HENLEY, however, I have selected 12 places over 10 for odds of 28/1. Potentially a little light.
He was 2nd last time out in Bermuda and has 2 other top 10s in the last 6 weeks. It feels like it’s coming for BRIAN. This is a course I am sure he targets as an opportunity for him to compete. Merely for the fact, bombers have their drivers taken off them for many of the holes. Also, 3 of the Par 3s are around 150 yards, which neutralises their advantages on typically longer Par 3s.
HARMAN again is a player that plots around the course and can machine his way from tee to fairway to green and ranked 17th in my model.
He is trending in the right direction with his very large putter. +0.27 in strokes gained over the last 24 rounds. However, inside 10 feet he has been very poor. Although I will see the trend as positive. Heading into a week on flat greens, where the stroke beats the read.
GRILLO this year is a little of the forgotten man, albeit is this an event he has many top 10 finishes. He is also a very good putter when it comes to Paspalum greens.
With the absence of CARLOS ORTIZ, it will be GRILLO who is fueled by the love of the fans as the Mexican plays in his home country.
He also comes in this week with much better form, following a 4th at the Sandersons and a 5th at the BMW. GRILLO will be full of confidence as he once more does battle at El CAMALEON, looking for his 2nd win on tour, this would make sense to be the event where that could happen for the first time since 2015.
Statistically, GRILLO ticks boxes and is gaining 0.5 of a shot on the field over the last 50 rounds. More recently this number is 0.35 but 1.1 in shots gained in total. He ranks in my model 16th and when given the option of GRILLO, BUCKLEY, DAY & HOGE places slightly higher. In Mexico, I will go with GRILLO.
For me, GRILLO is S**T or bust. Therefore I have taken 40s EW on 6 places because I can see him winning or falling away as he often does across the season. If there was an event he would hang around, perhaps in front of the home fans is where this will happen.
I am expecting a lot of support for STREELMAN as you can find him around 100/1 on some bookies.
He ranked 6th in my model, which is why he was the first player I backed on Boyle Sports. He stats very similarly to HARMAN, whereby he is solid Tee to Green, particularly good off the tee but lacks from 10 feet. Ranking 97th in the field over the last 24 rounds.
If you are going to be consistent with your approach, this is one to put your money down and hope. I believe with the slower Paspalum greens, the players will be taking a longer, firmer stroke. Therefore the 10 foot put maybe 12-15feet on a normal week.
Once more as the greens are flat this is one where this difference can be closed but as for most weeks for players. STREELMAN will need to find his stroke.
Finally, I love how good STREELMAN is from 75-100 & 100-125 yards, ranking 9th and 12th respectfully vs the field in recent weeks. From 9 irons through the wedges he is dialled in and I hope this will correlate into a strong Par 3 performance this week and the birdies we need to compete.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt Tizzard is a “former” +1 Golfer, currently drifting between 0 and 4! Usually found behind the laptop as a specialist Golf Writer and founder of Waggle Duff. Matt is an expert in tournament previews, player interviewing and equipment reviews across the golf industry. Not a tipster, but a golf data fanatic who shares his thoughts! Matt has featured on Golf Podcasts, YouTube Channels and written hundreds of articles for many golf publishers. You can find out more about Matt’s work here.