Mayakoba Golf Classic
It was a frustrating week for us in Vegas with all of our team performing well and finishing in the top 40, with three of them, Piercy, Spaun and Im finishing within one or two shots of the places.
Ultimately though you get nothing for finishing 10th or 15th so as I say it was a frustrating week.
There was some better news with our trader Wyndham Clark though who played well in round 1 and therefore easily hit the initial target price to secure us a nice profit.
So with Vegas firmly in the rear view mirror we move south of the border to Mexico for the penultimate full field event on the PGA Tour for 2018, the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
The Mayakoba Classic first debuted on the PGA Tour in 2007.
For the first six editions the tournament was played in late February, however in 2013 the event moved to November to become one of the fall events of the new wrap around schedule and it has remained in this spot since then.
The event has been played at the El Cameleon Golf Club since its inception.
The field this week is headed up by last years runner up Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth and Gary Woodland.
At the time of writing Fowler is the slight market leader followed by Spieth & Finau.
El Cameleon is a par 71 measuring just under 7000yds.
The greens are Paspulum.
The course was opened in 2006 and was designed by Greg Norman.
For reference the other Greg Norman design currently used regularly on tour is TPC San Antonio the home of the Valero Texas Open.
If the wind doesn’t blow then as a short par 71 El Cameleon is there for the taking and low scoring is the order of the day.
The key to success here, particularly since the move to November has been good solid ball striking and approach play.
So lets take a look at the last five winners of the event since the tournament moved to November.
2017 – P Kizzire
2016 – P Perez
2015 – G McDowell
2014 – C Hoffman
2013 – H English
Looking at this list of players Similarly to last week it is pretty clear that this is indeed a course on which solid ball strikers with a really strong tee to green game flourish.
This is backed up by the fact that the likes of Russell Knox, Kevin Streelman and Ryan Moore have also played well here over the recent years.
Beyond this in an attempt to connect the dots between these winners I decided to take a look at the recent form of these five players when they arrived in Mexico.
With this in mind the table below shows the three previous starts of the last five players to lift the trophy here, with their most recent start noted first.
Kizzire 4 10 MC
Perez 7 33 *
G McDowell 37 24 30
C Hoffman 35 MC MC
H English 27 7 40
*Denotes player had made only two starts recently as he had just returned from injury absence.
As we can see the last two winners had finished inside the top 10 in their previous start, however prior to that only H English had finished in the top 10 in one of their previous three starts.
There is though in interesting caveat to the above in that for the last two years the Mayakoba has followed directly on from the Shriners, which was not the case previously.
My thoughts here therefore are that despite the fact that on the surface you would not initially see too much of a connection between desert golf in Nevada and this weeks event, actually both courses are very much suited to strong ball strikers.
This could well mean that a player who performs well tee to green in Vegas carries that momentum to Mexico and to a course that also requires the same attributes and they push on from there.
Now of course we only have a two year sample to back this hypothesis up but its certainly one I think may well carry merit.
Moving on and looking at previous course form this does not appear to be too relevant.
This is born out by the fact two of the last five winners here were making their course debut whilst the other three had nothing better than a 16th place between them in a combined six previous starts.
The winning score over the past five editions has varied between -17 to -21 so as noted earlier birdies are the order of the day.
Temperatures are set to sit in the mid 80s all week with sunshine reasonably prevalent. At the time of writing however there is a possibility of some thunderstorms on both Thursday AM and Sunday PM.
Wind does not appear to be an issue with nothing more than 7-8mph currently showing in the forecast.
I would therefore expect that low scoring will again be the order of the day.
As I always say though…this could all change!
We find ourselves faced with a similar situation to last week with three big names heading up the market and you would expect at least one or two of these to be somewhere near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.
Last week we chose to take these bigger names on and with Bryson taking home the trophy this strategy didn’t work out.
This week however with all the question marks over Fowler and Finau’s ability to close the deal on a regular basis when in the hunt, and with Spieth not exactly setting the world alight in Vegas or indeed for a while now, I am again more than happy to take the market leaders on.
One of them may well end up winning but at prices ranging from 8-1 to 12-1 I am happy to pass them by.
As such I have gone with five players this week as follows;
ROBERT STREB – 125 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED MC
I hinted above that my line of approach this week may well be to run with a player who had a strong finish in Vegas and hope they keep that momentum going and someone who catches my eye on this basis is Oklahoma native Robert Streb.
The 31yr old first graced the PGA tour full time in 2013 and he has been an ever present on tour ever since.
That run almost came to an end recently as the2017/18 season was a pretty grim one for Robert as he managed only one top 10 all season, which came in an opposite field event, The Barbasol.
As a result Streb found himself battling to salvage his card at the Web.com finals and he did this in style with a victory in the first playoff event, The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.
With his card secured for the season Streb started the 18/19 campaign slowly with a MC at the Safeway, however he played solidly at the Sandersons and then stepped it up a notch to finish 4th last week in Vegas where he ranked 5th in SGTTG, 11th in DA and 17th in GIR.
Streb’s best year on tour was the 11/15 season, which saw him make it all the way to the Tour Championship.
The highlight of this season was his win at the RSM Classic [then known as the McGladrey Classic] in the fall and interestingly this came the week after he finished 10th at the Shriners in Vegas.
As well as notching his lone PGA tour win to date at the RSM, Streb has three top 20s at the Farmers, two in Puerto Rico and one at the Honda to his name so clearly he is comfortable on coastal tracks.
He does also have one outing at El Cameleon on the books when he finished 37th in 2014 a couple of weeks after his win at the RSM.
We have seen over the years from Streb that when he gets on a roll he produces high finishes with great consistency and at the price on offer this week I am more than happy to take a chance that similarly to back in 2014 he can take his momentum from Vegas on to a course, which should suit his game and produce another great week.
SAM RYDER – 50 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED 54th
Another player who featured prominently on the final leaderboard in Las Vegas last week that I find hard to ignore is Sam Ryder.
Ryder closed his week in Vegas with a 62, which saw him tie for the lead down the stretch.
Even though he ultimately came up short Sam did very little wrong on Sunday so he should move forward to Mexico in high spirits.
I highlighted earlier that solid ball strikers have a good record at El Cameleon and they don’t come much better in that department than the 28yr old Floridian as he topped the tours stats Ball Striking last season.
Yet to win on the PGA Tour Ryder has one win on the Web.com tour last year to his name and another on the Mackenzie Tour of Canada from 2015 so he clearly knows how to get the job done.
With two top four finishes in three events already this season Ryder is clearly a man on a mission at the moment and similarly to Streb I can see him carrying his momentum from the Shriners through to Mexico and going close to his maiden PGA tour victory this week.
CAMERON DAVIS – 60 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED 48th
As I am sure will be the case with many people this week I can’t resist including the hugely talented young Aussie Cameron Davis in my team at the prices on offer.
In addition to his obvious potential the case for Davis is made very much around his two previous trips to El Cameleon, which both came back in 2016.
Firstly Davis was part of an Australian Team, which won the 2016 Eisenhower Trophy, [an amateur team competition contested by up to 70 countries from across the globe]
Not only did Davis’ Australian team win the event but they won it by an incredible 19 shots.
Furthermore Cameron was the star of the show winning the individual even with his fellow Aussie Curtis Luck [who is also in this week’s field] finishing second.
On the back of this success Davis earnt a wild card in to the Mayakoba Classic a few weeks later and he finished 16th.
So we’ve established that the 23yr old will inevitably be returning to Mexico with positive vibes but what of his form on the PGA Tour to date in his maiden season, well so far he has notched two top 30 finishes in three starts, so clearly he has found the transition to the big league a reasonably comfortable one.
Davis is by no means the finished article yet and there is a possibility that he could put too much expectation on himself this week and end up performing poorly.
He is however a player with undoubted potential and he has already proven that he can mix it with the big boys when winning the Australian Open.
I am therefore happy to take a chance that he can show his talents this week on a course he clearly loves and if he can do so then the 60-1 on offer [or 66-1 for 7 places] may well look very big come Sunday.
SCOTT PIERCY – 40 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED T6th
Having had most of our team perform well last week on a course, which rewards similar skill sets to this week, I inevitably feel compelled to giving another chance to some of those players again and the first to grab my attention is Scott Piercy.
I wrote last week that Piercy is a player to watch when he gets hot and the Nevada man now has two consecutive top 10 finishes to his name.
Scott has shown over the years that shorter coastal tracks can be to his liking, as, as well as finishing in the top 20 on his last two visits here, he has produced some strong results at the Sony in Hawaii and at Hilton Head and the RSM.
Piercy improved his score each day in Vegas last week and he finished Sunday by going -5 for his last six holes played.
He also ended the week 5th for DA and 17th for GIR so the long game is clearly in order.
I mentioned last week that Piercy’s last two individual wins on tour came after he had finished 14th & 3rd respectively and my hope is that the Las Vegas resident can keep the momentum going this week and land his fourth individual PGA Tour win.
JJ SPAUN – 66-1 – 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED 3rd
Finally, and again keeping the synergy from last week, I am going to finish our team by giving another chance to JJ Spaun.
I included JJ last week on the back of his solid play of late as well as his near miss in Vegas last year, and whilst he was unable to quite deliver for us there was not too much wrong with his 15th place finish.
JJ’s long game was very much in order at TPC Summerlin and he actually finished the week ranked 1st in SGATTG.
Unfortunately for us the 28yr olds putter was slightly off and this was enough to prevent him from getting right in the mix.
Never the less the Californian has two consecutive top 15 finishes to his name so he is clearly building up a head of steam.
Last year JJ arrived in Mexico on the back of his disappointing Sunday in Vegas however he still finished a respectable 14th before going on to finish 2nd at the RSM the following week.
Clearly therefore this is a stretch of golf Spaun enjoys and I am happy to stick with him this week as I believe he is close to his first PGA Tour win.
UPDATED 7th NOVEMBER
TRADER - CARLOS ORTIZ FINISHED MC - LOWEST PRICE TRADED 150
For this weeks trader pick I have chosen to go with Mexican Carlos Ortiz.
Backing a Mexican player in their home country event is a fairly obvious line of approach and their has been a lot of money through this week for the in form Abraham Ancer.
At the prices on offer however Ortiz is the home player who catches my eye as a trader pick this week.
Ortiz burst on to the PGA tour after a three win season on the Web.com tour back in 2014.
Importantly for this week one of those wins came in the Mexico Championship, so he has proved he can produce the goods when in the home spotlight.
In his debut season on the PGA Tour in 2015 the 27yr old played solidly and retained his card with one of the highlights of the year being a 9th place finish in this weeks event.
In 2016 though Carlos lost his way on the PGA Tour and as a result it was back to the web.com for him the following year.
2017 didn't bring much of an improvement however in 2018 Ortiz foulnd a really solid groove of form, which included four top 10 finishes and 12 consecutive cuts made to finish off the year, and this was enough for him to regain his card.
Now back on the PGA Tour Ortiz has already notched a top 5 finish just two weeks ago at the Sanderson Farms event.
Last week Ortiz missed the cut in Vegas however his game is clearly in really solid shape of late so i'm a little baffled at his price on the exchange markets coming in to an event that should clearly be one of his strongest of the season.
I can see Carlos having a really strong week this week and at the prices on offer I am more than happy to have him as our trader pick this week.
CURRENTLY TRADING @ 300