mayakoba classic

The PGA Tour heads to Mexico this week for the Mayakoba Classic. Here’s a full preview of the action from the Golf Insider

Mayakoba Classic

A relatively new kid on the block, this event dates back to just 2007 when it first appeared on the schedule. It also marked the return of the PGA Tour to Mexico. This tournament used to be a make-weight on the rotation while the “big names” all played at the WGC Match Play, but it has now carved out a niche of its own in the calendar in late October / early November. At this time of the year, early in the 2020-21 season, it’s very much a case of players wanting to get off to a fast start and rack-up some prize-money and Money List points. But there’s also a healthy number of highly ranked players will line-up on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. So expect some fiery competition this week!

The Course

El Camaleon Golf Club is a 6,987 yard par-71 situated at Playa Del Carmen – just south of the popular holiday resort, Cancun, on the Yucatan Peninsula. Designed by Greg Norman, the course was opened in 2004 and staged its first event in 2007. It’s a picturesque course, the “chameleon”, using local jungle, mangroves and the coastal locations to provide the players with a stern test. But with good playing conditions scoring can still be low.

72 hole record: 262 – Matt Kuchar, 2018.

18 hole record: 61 – Roland Thatcher, 2008.

Past Winners

2019: Brendon Todd

2018: Matt Kuchar

2017: Patton Kizzire

2016: Pat Perez

2015: Graeme McDowell

The Field

A standard PGA field of 156 golfers line up for this week’s tournament. Justin Thomas is favourite with TopSport at $7.75.

The Weather

Not great, considering it’s Mexico. There’s a 60% – 90% – 80% – 50% chance of rain on the four days, maybe some thunder on Friday and Saturday. Temperatures though will be high, in the 80s (F), but with wind speeds at under 10mph. The humidity will be high each day, upwards of 80%.

Outright value bets

Corey Conners – currently $29 with TopSport

The Canadian did little wrong when we backed him last time out in the RSM Classic at Sea Island. Hot on the heels of a Top 10 in the US Masters, Conners ranked first for Greens-In-Regulation in posting another Top 10 finish (one shot out of the each-way money). And with a week off to rest, and on a course that should suit this maturing talent, there’s no reason to expect Conners not to go well this week in Mexico. His accuracy off the tee is exceptional, and the rest of his game is solid. Maybe his putting could be a tad better, but if he does fire on the greens this week, there’s no reason why Conners can’t improve on his previous course form (75-MC). The point is, Conners is a totally different player now. A proven winner on the PGA Tour, capable of competing with the best, and with a game that’s tested under “Sunday conditions”. This guy is going to win more titles, no question, and this week looks a good opportunity for Conners to demonstrate his growing talent.

Henrick Norlander – currently $111 with TopSport

I want a small interest on the big Swede, even though he has missed his last two cuts. This week’s venue is ideal for Norlander to find his form again, as his accuracy game off the tee should reap rewards. This course punishes the wayward, especially off the tee, and Norlander is one of the most accurate on tour in this department. It wasn’t long ago that Norlander was playing great and going off around 40/1 for events like these, so I was quite shocked to see this price available despite his two missed cuts lately. Norlander finished sixth at The Memorial in July, and fourth at the Sanderson Farms Championship just four starts ago. Even last week when he missed the cut at the RSM, he still managed to gain strokes on the field from tee-to-green.

Norlander has played this course twice, finishing in 46th place on debut, although he was actually in the Top 20 heading into Sunday but shot a poor final round. Last year he finished 41st and carded two excellent rounds (67-66) and two poor ones (74-71). He’s a talented young player who isn’t playing as badly as his latest finishes suggest, and a return to a course which suits his game could see him re-discover his early season form. A minimum stakes, but worthy, bet for me at the odds.

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