This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
MAYAKOBA GOLF CLASSIC
Winner's Share: $1.296M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Course: El Camaleon Golf Club
2017 champion: Patton Kizzire
We're in November and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. That can mean only one thing: The PGA Tour is finally going to take a break. But not just yet. There are two more tournaments to go. We head south of the border for the 12th edition of what is now called the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Five years ago, the tournament moved from an alternate-field event early in the year to its current position as a stand-alone event in the fall. The weather is different this time of year and the fields got stronger, so 2013 onward will be our primary focus.
A year ago, Rickie Fowler was by far the biggest name and the overwhelming favorite. Reverse-spoiler alert: He didn't win, naturally. But this fall season, the fields have been more robust, with bigger names and higher-ranked golfers. This time around, Fowler is joined on the marquee by perhaps an even bigger headliner in Jordan Spieth. Furthermore, 10 of the top 50 in the OWGR are on hand, including Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar. There's also Zach Johnson, plus young guns Cameron Champ, Aaron Wise and Joaquin Niemann, who will have shed his teenage years and turned 20 by the time he hits his first tee ball on Thursday.
Fowler fell just short last year in trying to capture elusive career win No. 5, when the rain-delayed tournament concluded with the leaders forced into a 36-hole Sunday. Instead, he was held off by all off people, Patton Kizzire, who became the eighth over-30 winner in the first 11 years of the tournament. Fowler was ranked second in the field off the tee at 299.2 yards, and no one who made the cut averaged 300. That's pretty much been the storyline for this Tour stop ever since Fred Funk, the poster boy for short hitters, won the inaugural Mayakoba event at 51 years old in 2007. We'll take a closer look at winning trends in the Champion's Profile below.
El Camaleon Golf Club is an anachronistic sub-7,000 yards, and maybe that's why older guys usually win this tournament. The younger guys tend to bomb it off the tee, and you just can't do that this week. You don't necessarily have to keep it in the fairway, but you can't stray too far. While it is a bit of a birdie-fest at El Camaleon, the Greg Norman design does have its defenses. The course is perched on the easternmost point of Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. It features tropical jungles, dense mangrove forests and even some sandy beaches. For those wondering what, exactly, a mangrove is, it's a tree or shrub that features many tangled roots. In other words, they're big trouble for any of the 132 golfers whose ball finds one.
Weather-wise, rain usually interrupts this tournament at some point, and this week scattered thunderstorms are in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday. There might be some rain the first two days, though not enough right now to affect Thursday/Friday lineup construction. You might want to check the local weather forecast in a day or two before locking in. Otherwise, temperatures will be in the mid-80s with high humidity all four days, so fitness could play a factor. Winds are forecast to be light, but as we've seen in the past, that can change in a heartbeat.
Key Stats to Winning at El Camaleon
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: approach
• Putting average/strokes gained: putting
• Scrambling/strokes gained: around the green
• Birdie or better percentage
2017 - Patton Kizzire
2016 - Pat Perez
2015 - Graeme McDowell
2014 - Charley Hoffman
2013 - Harris English
2012 - John Huh
2011 - Johnson Wagner
2010 - Cameron Beckman
2009 - Mark Wilson
2008 - Brian Gay
There is quite a theme here, as increased age and decreased distance dovetail. Funk, Gay, Wilson, Beckman, McDowell, Perez and now Kizzire– all older guys, none of them the biggest hitters. That's because the key to El Camaleon is positioning. You don't necessarily need to put the ball in the fairway, you just can't be too far off the fairway. Among the last five winners, none of them was top-15 in driving accuracy. But four of the five were top-11 in greens in regulation. Only McDowell was not, and he putted out of his mind. Four of the past five winners also were top-20 in scrambling. Perez put it all together: 11th in GIR, ninth in scrambling and third in putting average. Similarly, Kizzire was T7 in greens in regulation, 13th in scrambling and fourth in putting. The winning score since the tournament moved to the fall has been perched between 17- and 21-under, with Perez tying the four-day record and Kizzire situated right in the middle last year at 19-under. The greens are paspalum grass, which isn't used on too many tracks. It is featured at one of the courses for the Puerto Rico Open and formerly at the CIMB Classic, but the tournament in Malaysia just switched to Bermuda for this year's event. Perez is a former CIMB winner, so he must love him some paspalum.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Rickie Fowler - $11,500 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 8-1)
Fowler came close last year and he'll come close again this year. That's what he does. Will he win? What do you think?
Gary Woodland - $10,700 (16-1)
One of these days, Woodland won't finish in the top 10. But he's 3-for-3 on the young season, and last week's T10 at Vegas gave him nine top-25s in his past 10 starts. Yes, Woodland is a long hitter and that's almost a detriment this week, but he did finish as the runner-up here two years ago. Woodland is ranked second in the early going in birdie-or-better percentage.
Billy Horschel - $9,900 (25-1)
Horschel makes his fourth start of the young season, and he has yet to play on U.S. soil. He played all three stops on the Asian Swing, culminating with a T11 at the WGC-HSBC Champions. All facets of Horschel's game are strong but one: scrambling. If his irons are as precise as they normally are, that won't hurt him too much at El Camaleon.
Tier 2 Values
Emiliano Grillo - $9,700 (25-1)
Better suited to shorter tracks, Grillo has finished top-10 here the past two years. Like Horschel, the biggest weakness in his game is around the green, but not on it. Last season, Grillo ranked eighth in driving accuracy and 12th in strokes gained: putting.
Si Woo Kim - $9,200 (30-1)
Kim, who finished 159th on Tour in strokes gained: putting last year, was first in the field last week at TPC Summerlin. Remarkable, right? Kim tied for 15th, and that was with a quintuple-bogey 9. Make that a par and he's looking at solo fourth. Kim was also top-10 in scrambling last week. He tied for third here a year ago and was T17 in 2015. It's still plenty early, but Kim is third on Tour in BOB percentage.
Cameron Champ - $9,100 (30-1)
Riding the same guy week after week eventually will come back to bite you, but we were impressed with Champ's T28 last week. It was not as impressive as his maiden win the week before, but the fact that he made the cut and was in contention through 54 holes shows he didn't let his sudden fame and fortune get to him. The big question this week is, how often will Champ hit driver? We're hoping not a lot, as last year he trunk-slammed here.
Ryan Moore - $8,600 (40-1)
Moore just missed his sixth career title at the season-opening Safeway Open, losing in a playoff to Kevin Tway. He hasn't come close in three subsequent starts, though he did manage two rounds in the mid-60s last week at TPC Summerlin. Moore is another accurate tee-to-green guy and, on occasion, a hot putter. He tied for sixth here a year ago.
Abraham Ancer - $8,400 (40-1)
The Texas-born Mexican will be one of the headliners this week. Actually, that might be the one reason to bypass him. But he finished ninth here a year ago, albeit when he was not quite yet on everybody's radar and expectations were lower. Ancer has top-5s in two of his three starts this season, including last week at TPC Summerlin.
Tier 3 Values
Bill Haas - $7,900 (50-1)
Haas notched top-15s in both his starts this season, but that still wasn't enough to fulfill the terms of his medical extension. So he's relegated to playing out of Category 32 (125th to 150th in last year's standings). He's in the field this week on a sponsor's exemption, and we expect another good showing, and likely low ownership. Haas is still one of the best scramblers on Tour.
Cameron Davis - $7,400 (60-1)
The young Aussie has two good finishes in three starts this season, including a T28 last week in Vegas. Davis is familiar with El Camaleon, having made his first PGA Tour appearance there back in 2015, when he impressively tied for 15th. He also starred for Australia there two months earlier as part of the winning team at the World Amateur Team Championship. Like fellow Cameron (Champ), Davis will have to tone down his prodigious drives this week.
Bud Cauley - $7,200 (100-1)
With a T46 at the season-opening Safeway Open, Cauley proved he has recovered from a serious car accident earlier this year. With a T10 last week at the Shriners Open, he proved he can be a very good golfer and important fantasy option again. As such, we're jumping on his near-long-shot price. Cauley is ranked sixth on Tour in strokes gained: around the green.
Anders Albertson - $7,200 (100-1)
Far less celebrated than fellow Web.com graduate Sungjae Im, Albertson is proving that accurate iron play translates to any tour. He is ranked 13th in strokes gained: approach. He followed up a T5 two weeks ago at the Sanderson with a respectable T28 last week at Vegas.
Danny Lee - $6,900 (80-1)
In the early going, Lee is ranked eighth on Tour in greens in regulation and 21st in strokes gained: putting. In three tournaments this season, he has shot in the 60s nine of the 12 rounds. And if Lee has played 12 rounds over three events, that means that not only hasn't he missed a cut, he hasn't withdrawn. Lee has a wacky history in this tournament, with a tie for third in 2014, a tie for 25th last year, one missed cut and two WDs. Lee is also tied for 39th on Tour in birdie or better.
Brice Garnett - $6,700 (100-1)
Garnett doesn't have a good showing in three starts so far in the fall season, but he is old. Wait, what? Yes, Garnett is 35, which puts him in the perfect demographic to do well here. In fact, he already has – three times. Garnett notched top-10s in 2014 and '15, and came back with a T25 last year.
Joel Dahmen - $6,800 (125-1)
Dahmen has opened the season with four straight made cuts, two of them top-30s. Both of those were in Asia, and his two U.S. starts have been far worse. He'll be using his passport again this week. Last year in Mexico, Dahmen tied for 23rd.
Jonas Blixt - $6,200 (Field, 12-1)
We don't normally dip this far on the price list, but here's an opportunity to save maybe $500-$700 for other golfers and get lucky with Blixt. The veteran Swede – yes, he's well over 30 – has finished inside the top-40s in three of his past four PGA Tour starts. Candidly, this is one big dart throw.