Mayakoba Golf Classic outrights and matchups

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After a week off from competition, the PGA Tour returns with the Mayakoba Classic in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. This event began in 2007 but became a full time swing season tournament in 2014 and since then tends to attract a fairly strong field of golfers. This year is no different and should lead to a competitive week of golf. 

The field

As mentioned prior, the field for this week is pretty strong when looking at the top of the board. Leading the way is world #3 Justin Thomas. He has been on quite the run lately and rightfully has the lowest odds coming in. Right behind him is Brooks Koepka who, by his standards, has had an inconsistent summer and fall season but recently is beginning to turn it around. 

A few other notable golfers in the field include Harris English, Russel Henley, and Daniel Berger. If you’ve been following along with the articles then you would know these are three names that show up often and all struggle when it comes to finding the winner’s circle. Either way, they are all in great form and it wouldn’t shock me to see them pop again this weekend. 

Further boosting the strength of the field are the likes of Tony Finau, Viktor Hovland, Rickie Fowler, and Corey Conners. Young phenom, Will Zalatoris, will also return to the course. There is definitely solid depth when it comes to the top of the field and there are sure to be some prominent names competing down the stretch on Sunday.

Geoff Ulrich previews the Mayakoba Classic

The course

El Camaleon golf course is a Greg Norman designed course that winds through tropical jungle and ultimately clears out onto the beach of the Gulf of Mexico. This is an all-inclusive resort open to the public to stay at, which typically leads to an easier than average course. It features narrow fairways and large greens. There are a number of bunkers that guard the greens as well as a handful of water hazards that come into play with wayward shots. There is even a cavernous sink hole in the middle of the 7th fairway that essentially plays as a hazard. The greens are grown with Paspalum grass which is typically seen at tropical oceanic courses.

All things considered, this course plays fairly easy for professional level golfers. The ability to keep the ball in the fairway and accurately fire at flags are both key for scoring. The greens are receptive and large which leads to a lot of good looks for birdie. The past five winners of this event have all had a final score of -18 or better. 

The course is a par-71 that stretches to right around 7,000 yards making it fairly short compared to a standard PGA Tour course. Four par-3s and three par-5s make up the mix of holes with the par-4s being pretty evenly spread out in length from 350-500 yards. These par-4s make up the more challenging holes the golfers will face with six of them ranking as the six hardest relative to par. Per usual, the par-5s offer the best chance for scoring, including the 13th hole which last year saw a birdie rate of over 50%. The par-3s are easier than a normal PGA course with one of them evening coming in at 115 yards. 

Keys to success this week will be finding fairways and attacking greens. It should turn into a birdie fest so the more looks a golfer has at manageable putts, the better. When looking at past champions, accuracy is much more important than distance with the likes of Matt Kuchar, Brendan Todd, and Kevin Kisner all claiming the title in the past.

Check out our full Mayakoba betting preview from Geoff Ulrich

Notable stats

  • Fairways Gained
  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Birdie or Better %
  • Par-4 Scoring
  • Proximity 100-150 yards

Outrights value

Russell Henley +2200

Player NameSG: APPFwys GainedBoB GainedSG: PSG: Par 4Prox: 100-150
Russell Henley111298131
Russel Henley stats

The top of the board offers a few great options for starting the card with the likes of Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, and Russell Henley all appearing to be good fits. I’ll be siding with Henley. He has been a staple of these articles and that certainly won’t be changing at a course that should set up perfectly for his skill set. He leads the field in strokes gained: approach and proximity from 100-150 yards. He is also 3rd in par-4 scoring. 

His last missed cut was in July and since then he has four top-10 finishes. Henley has struggled to piece together solid play over all four rounds but outside of one or two mistakes, he has been right at the top of leaderboards what feels like every week. He is going to break through sometime soon and I’m not missing out when he does. 

Corey Conners +3500

Player NameSG: APPFwys GainedBoB GainedSG: PSG: Par 4Prox: 100-150
Corey Conners104331001634
Corey Conners stats

The young Canadian has been having a great second half of 2020 and the last few events have backed that up. His last four starts have resulted in finishes of 10th / 10th / 24th / 8th. A great stretch of golf for Conners has been led by solid ball striking. He has gained 4.4 strokes tee-to-green over his last five events.

Over the last 50 rounds, he is 10th in the field in strokes gained: approach, 4th in hitting fairways, and 16th in par-4 scoring. He certainly struggles with his putting but with how receptive the greens will play this week, he should have plenty of good looks for birdie. If he can get some putts to drop, Conners is set up for success at the low scoring affair that will be Mayakoba.

Emiliano Grillo +5000

Player NameSG: APPFwys GainedBoB GainedSG: PSG: Par 4Prox: 100-150
Emiliano Grillo73647127234
Emiliano Grillo stats

After a little bit of a rough stretch to finish up the summer, Grillo has been piecing together some pretty solid golf as of late. Over his past five events, he has gained 3.2 strokes on approach and 3.0 strokes total. This proved to be a recipe for success two weeks ago at the RSM when he posted an 18th place finish. Prior to that, he had made 8 of his last 9 cuts and this run included four top-30 finishes. 

Grillo is 7th in this field in strokes gained: approach and 4th in proximity from 100-150 yards. He also finds a ton of fairways. Anyone that follows Grillo knows that he is notoriously one of the worst putters on tour but the irons can get hot in a hurry and he can ball strike his way into contention. 50/1 is great value for how well he is currently playing. I’ll be taking a stab at the +900 top-5 as well. 

Gary Woodland
Jul 16, 2020; Dublin, Ohio, USA; Gary Woodland plays his shot from the fairway on the ninth hole during the first round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Tournament matchups

Justin Thomas -162 vs Brooks Koepka +125

This has to be the matchup to start things off with this week being that they are the two marquee names in the field and the two betting favorites. Justin Thomas has been on another level with his golf game recently and it is somewhat shocking that he has only won once in the past year. He only has one missed cut since February and has finished inside the top-10 six times in his past eleven starts. He enters the week 1st in Birdie or Better %, 2nd in approach, and 1st in par-4 scoring. He may very well win this week. I won’t be betting him at odds as low as 6/1 but he is and should be the favorite.

Brooks Koepka is starting to find some solid form but even when playing well, still seems to get bested by JT. The last event this two played was at the Masters and Brooks posted a 7th place finish which was one of his better in quite some time. This appears to be good form until looking higher in the standings and seeing a Justin Thomas finishing 4th. The same thing happened at the WGC – St Jude back in August. Brooks is more built for a bombing track and not so much a course where finding fairways is key. Until he shows some sign of struggle, I’ll continue to side with Justim Thomas.

The pick: Justin Thomas -162

Harold Varner III -112 vs Gary Woodland -112

I’m as big of a Gary Woodland fan as anyone but something has been off with his game for a little while now and I don’t see that flipping back right away. He hasn’t finished better than 33rd in his last seven starts and this stretch includes three missed cuts and an almost last place finish at the CJ Cup, which is a no-cut event. Over his last five rounds he has lost 2 strokes off the tee and 2.5 strokes tee-to-green. These numbers are shocking for the former US Open champion.

Varner on the other hand is built for 2nd shot golf courses and that is exactly what we have this week in Mexico. He is 6th in approach, 12th in birdie or better %, and 6th in par-4 scoring. His form is pretty decent coming in as well. He had a 15th just a few weeks ago in Houston and a 13th at the Shriners a couple weeks before that. He is actually a sneaky dark horse to win this week at 70/1 and until we see signs of life from Woodland, he is definitely the play in this matchup. 

The pick: Harold Varner III -112

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