A 15th visit south of the border for the PGA TOUR to the Mayakoba Resort and the popular El Camaleon course. For the first six years of its existence the tournament was played as an opposite-field event, with the stars of the game playing the World Golf Championship World Match Play. But the fondness which players and spectators had for the course led to it being moved to a November slot in the calendar and, while they have never quite been the very highest grade, improved fields have followed. This year’s might be the strongest collection yet with defending champion Viktor Hovland, home hero Abraham Ancer, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris and Justin Thomas providing a slightly different selection challenge to previous years.
El Camaleon Golf Club
As mentioned, this is a lovely track, one with distinct features that sets a particular test for the golfers. It was designed by Greg Norman and opened the year before it first hosted the tour. It sneaks between mangroves, jungle, caves and wetlands with the ocean frequently visible and the sea breezes always in play.
It’s not long at just a touch over 7,000 yards and plays to a par of 71 with a key feature the Paspalum greens. It’s a grass type that can be irrigated with sea water and while it is not exactly like Bermuda grass it shares many similarities. Those natural features mean that the course demands accurate golf both from the tee and into the greens.
Vaughn Taylor has said of the putting surfaces: “The grass is different. It’s Paspalum, it’s grainy. If you haven’t been on it before, you might be a little confused.” Billy Horschel is among many who have noted that, because of the common trade winds, the speed of the greens is on the slow side.
Of the tee to green test Cameron Champ said: “It’s not a bomber’s course. You have to place it off the tee, and some holes the rough is very thick and you’ve just got to whack it out.” Matt Kuchar added: “If you’re missing fairways, it means you’re in the mangroves, you’re in the hazard, you’re taking penalty drops, you’re really in trouble. If you’re driving it well, you have a chance to perform well from there. Even if you do find the fairways, the approach shots are awfully challenging as well.”
The weather forecast for Rivera Maya, Mexico looks set fair. The temperatures will be in the high 70s all week with humidity in the 60s. The players are forecast to compete in a growing breeze. It will creep from around 5mph on Thursday to about 12mph on Sunday. But note that it is often windier in reality than in theory in this oceanside location. There’s little expected chance of rain.
Past Champions of the World Wide Technology Championship At Mayakoba
The pattern of winners on this layout was set very quickly. Fred Funk won the inaugural edition in 2007, Brian Gay succeeded him in 2008, then Mark Wilson, Cameron Beckman and Johnson Wagner prevailed. Each and every one of them is a wily plotter of the ball from tee to green, who copes admirably in wind, and putts best on grainy greens.
John Huh was the last of the February winners and a little different in mode of attack, but it didn’t take long for a return to old ways for the winners. Harris English triumphed in 2013, Charley Hoffman a year later, they were followed by Graeme McDowell, Pat Perez and Patton Kizzire.
In 2018 the veteran Matt Kuchar lifted the trophy, Brendon Todd followed him, and Viktor Hovland won last year. They furthered the trend of competent wind players, but the Norwegian might be the first winner who fits the very modern golfing profile of being explosive rather than deliberate from the tee.
What so many of those winners have done is excel at similar tests. Think Harbour Town, Waialae and, in recent years, Port Royal, home of last week’s Butterfield Bermuda Championship.
Here’s are some entirely FREE suggestions for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|B list||W. Zalatoris||$9,100|
|B list||J. Rose||$7,900|
|C list||R. Knox||$7,300|
|C list||J. Dahmen||$7,000|
Viktor Hovland ($10,900) He’s the defending champion, but if there is one time to support a golfer in such circumstances, it is when the course is one that promotes specialists. There’s also another very simple reason to like him this week: He loves putting on Paspalum. True, he missed two cuts here early in his career, but he corrected that in the perfect fashion with the win and it came after he had also tasted success on the same putting surface at the Puerto Rico Open. He also played well on it when T–30 in the PGA Championship. Nor is he scared of wind, frequently citing his home (and schooling) in Oklahoma as a primer that allows him to be a good hitter of a low ball.
Will Zalatoris ($9,100) He can build on the cut he made in his tournament debut 12 months ago when T–52, a week when he played nicely in the middle two rounds. He’s been T–8 twice on Paspalum, at last year’s Corales Puntacana and this year’s PGA Championship. He also made the cut on his Harbour Town debut and was T–16 last year in blustery Bermuda.
Justin Rose ($7,900) A rare treat to be buying a major champion and former World No. 1 at less than $8,000. There are times when you’d not be tempted by the Englishman, but this is not one of them. It’s a course debut, but he he has four top 20s from five visits to Waialae (including second on his last trip), has finished T–7 and T–14 at Harbour Town (he is 4-for-4 there), and he is a winner at blustery and tight Valderrama in Spain.
Russell Knox ($7,300) We supported the Scot last week. In fact we were quite giddy about his and fellow Celt Graeme McDowell’s chances and they both duly delivered top 15 finishes. Knox is good to go again. He had a bad first round tee time last week, but recovered for a third top 20 in Bermuda. And he loves that El Camaleon plays to his strengths of finding fairways and then attacking. He’s 8-for-8 at playing the weekend with three top 10s.
Joel Dahmen ($7,000) A mini-Hovland with his fondness for the grass, but a much more attractive salary. The bookmakers really like Dahmen this week so take their hint because, relatively, he’s a superb DFS option. He landed three top 15 finishes at Corales Puntacana before winning there this year, he’s 3-for-3 at Waialae, 2-for-2 at Harbour Town, and 4-for-4 at El Camaleon including tied sixth two years ago and T–20 last year when in the top 10 for a lot of the week. Play of the week.
Talor Gooch ($9,000) A hefty salary for a non-winner so you’d think there was plenty in the log book, but I’m not sure there is. Course form? Two cuts made, but no top 40. Waialae? T–18 on debut, but no top 60 in three returns. One missed cut at Harbour Town. Three MCs and T–23 at Sea Island. T–60 at Corales. There will be better time to spend this much money on a salary.
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Here’s Another Alternate of Core Picks For The World Wide Technology Championship At Mayakoba
|B list||S. Lowry||$9,300|
|B list||C. Ortiz||$7,600|
|C list||E. Grillo||$7,500|
|C list||C. Howell III||$6,900|
Billy Horschel ($10,100) He’s made half a dozen visits to the resort, only once did he not make the weekend, and every other time he pushed on to land a top 30. Better than that he was T–8 two years ago and T–5 last season. He also showed how much he liked Paspalum by ranking top 10 for Strokes Gained Putting at Kiawah Island in May when T–23 in the PGA Championship. Moreover, he has played four rounds in 31 of his last 35 stroke play starts (six of those were no cut events).
Shane Lowry ($9,300) Blustery seaside golf is right up the Irishman’s street. True, his Irish Open and British Open wins came in temperatures very unlike this week, but it is the Portugal Masters on the European Tour this week – warm, breezy, resort golf – and he won that in 2012. That memory can prompt good golf this week. He’s 4-for-5 at Sea Island and Harbour Town with two top 10s at the latter. He was also a top five finisher at Kiawah Island in May.
Carlos Ortiz ($7,600) He had to withdraw from his last start, but before that played six weekends in seven and is now in a sweet spot. And it’s not just the fact that’s he’s Mexican: He also likes the course. He recorded a top 10 on debut back in 2014 and, after a few struggles trying to establish himself at the top level, he has added two more top 10s in the last two years. He made the cut at Kiawah Island and has a top 10 at Corales Puntacana.
Emiliano Grillo ($7,500) This Argentinian loves the tee-to-green test of a windy seaside track. He’s 5-for-5 at Waialae, 3-for-4 at Harbour Town (he was second this year), 3-for-3 at Corales Puntacana (T–6 this year), 5-for-5 in Puerto Rico (including second and third), and was T–18 the only time he went to Sea Island. What of El Camaleon? Another 5-for-5 record with four of them T–15 or better. Another in the sweetest of sweet spots.
Charles Howell III ($6,900) CH3 does not show up in this column with any great frequency, but when he does we’re more than content to pounce because it bears repetition: When he loves a course, he really loves a course. A good example is Waialae. He’s played there 20 times, missed just two cuts and landed a dazzling 16 top 30s, no less than 10 of them top 10s. The similar El Camaleon examination also suits: 12 visits, 10 cuts made, nine top 25 finishes, eight of them top 20.
Tony Finau ($10,600) Big Tony could have a fine week because he’s an excellent golfer. Moreover, he has logged three finishes of T–16 or better in three tournament appearances. But he’s a big salary and he also has two missed cuts, plus he has a so-so record on similar tracks: a best of T–20 in five Waialae starts and no top 30 in three Harbour Town journeys.
Nothing mysterious. Picks will have proven themselves at the likes of Harbour Town, Waialae, Port Royal and Sea Island. And for Paspalum grass form think Corales Puntacana, Puerto Rico and Kiawah Island in this year’s PGA Championship. Course form will also enter the equation. Bear in mind that the field is stronger than usual (it might well play a part). But this is the type of course that can catch out top graders (maybe not all of them but some). It’s a week when many DFS gamers will feel able to escape the leash and place faith in sneaky picks.
Other Player Options For The World Wide Technology Championship At Mayakoba
• Aaron Wise looks mighty tempting. He’s finished top 10 in his last two starts and also has two top 10s in his last three course appearances. His salary reflects that promise however.
• J.J. Spaun arrives fresh off improving form of 68-35-7 and he’s never missed a cut in five tournament starts including third in 2018.
• Last week’s defending champion Brian Gay overcame a nightmare start (a 75) to finish T–12 at Port Royal. He also likes El Camaleon. He’s 10-for-10 with six top 30 finishes and a win in 2008.
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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