DFS preview and picks for the Mayakoba Golf Classic
Course: El Camaleon Golf Club (Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico)
Yardage: 6,987 – Par 71
Purse : $7.2 M
Field: 132 players
Recent Mayakoba Golf Classic Winners
Every week it seems like it’s someone else’s turn to make their case as the next golfing great. Bryson DeChambeau is certainly in that conversation now as he won his fourth PGA Tour event in the 2018 calendar year last week. Despite injuring his hand the night before at a Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey game, DeChambeau was still able to fire a final round 66 to win the Shriners by a single stroke over Patrick Cantlay. Finding himself one shot behind Cantlay on the Par 5 16th hole, DeChambeau drained an absolutely legendary 58 foot putt from the fairway to move from one shot back to one shot ahead of the defending champion. A bogey on the 17th for Cantlay pretty much sealed it for DeChambeau as he would only need a par on the final hole to pick up his fifth career victory. After winning two FedEx Cup Playoff events in late August, you would think the month off since the Tour Championship would’ve cooled DeChamebeau off a little bit. Instead he picked up right where he left off. Over his last five stroke-play events DeChambeau has been on an absolute roll, winning his third tournament in that span. This is the type of run that reminds us of, dare I say, Tiger Woods. DeChambeau moves into fifth in the official world golf ranking, joining the Top 5 for the first time in his career.
The PGA Tour will head from sin city to south of the border for the Mayakoba Classic. Recently known as the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, the Mayakoba Classic used to be a secondary event played the same week as the WGC-Matchplay. Five years ago, the event was moved from February to November so it could become a primary event on Tour during the early stages of the wraparound season. For DFS knowledge this is a 132-man field with 70 players and ties making the cut. That means that about 53 percent of the field will make the cut, so getting six of six should be good enough for a cash in any format. The field will be fairly similar to last week with Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Tony Finau as the headliners yet again. The secondary talent this week will be made up of Matt Kuchar, Gary Woodland, Emiliano Grillo, Adam Hadwin, Billy Horschel, Kevin Kisner, Luke List, Ryan Moore, Joaquin Niemann, Pat Perez, Aaron Wise and Zach Johnson, who will be making his first start since last season’s BMW Championship.
Players making the trip down to Mexico this week will gather at El Camaleon Golf Club in the city of Playa Del Carmen, which is within the free and sovereign state of Quintana Roo. El Camaleon is one of the few sub-7000 yard courses on the Tour schedule. As a Par 71 course that makes this course one of the shortest courses on the PGA Tour. Unlike the Mexico Championship which is held in Mexico City over 8000 feet above sea level, Playa Del Carmen is right at sea-level, meaning that their won’t be any change in player’s distances. In Mexico City, players may see up to 30-40 yards difference on their shots because of the elevation change. This isn’t something they have to worry about this week, but the course will be naturally short for the PGA pros. With that in mind, we don’t need to focus on players who hit it long, but rather players who hit it straight and make a lot of birdies. Strokes gained: tee-to-green will be the main stat to focus on this week, as well as birdie or better percentage. Since the event moved to November the average winning score has been just a shade less than 20-under par. Anything less than 16-under will have most likely have no chance of contending this week, so you’ll want someone who can make a lot of birdies. Strokes gained: approach is always important, but with this course being so short, most players can just hit iron or fairway wood off-the-tee to stay accurate. It’ll be what they do on the approach that separates the good from the great. El Camaleon has three par 5s that are very gettable this week with the longest of the three being 554 yards. I’m looking for the real Par 5 scoring masters to take a couple cracks at eagle (like DeChambeau’s signature moment last week) and use those holes to polish up their scorecards.
2018 Mayakoba Golf Classic DFS Picks
Rickie Fowler ($11,500) I’ll admit, picking Rickie Fowler when he’s the highest-priced player scares because frankly, a lot of the time you don’t get what you pay for with him. I understand that by making this move Fowler pretty much has to win to be worth it, I’m willing to take that risk. From a numbers standpoint, Fowler is a heavy favorite. DailyRoto’s win probability model has Rickie’s win percentage at 10.18 percent and other than Finau (8.84 percent), no one else is above 4.5 percent. Obviously, numbers aren’t everything and most of the time the odds-on-favorite doesn’t win. But look at Fowler’s main competition: Finau, the only other player anywhere near him in win probability. As much as I love Tony Finau, the guy just plain doesn’t win. Then there’s Jordan Spieth who’s ability to win will never be in question, but right now he hasn’t even shown the ability to contend most weeks. There’s Gary Woodland, a talented player who’s played well recently, but all that great playing still hasn’t amounted to a win since last year’s Waste Management. Fowler is coming off of a T4 at the Shriners where he shot a final round 63, and he’s the 2017 runner-up at this event. The knock on Rickie is that he doesn’t win enough for him to be getting the exposure and publicity that he gets, so this is a great chance for him to get the year started right and start working towards his ultimate goal of a major championship.
Joaquinn Niemann ($8,800) It’s hard to resist the 19-year-old Chilean sensation, (he turns 20 tomorrow, ¡Feliz cumpleaños!) especially when he’s coming off of a week where he finished T10 and put in an astounding four eagles. One of Niemann’s eagles was a hole-in-one as he struck the ball like a machine all week long. Incredible ball-striking abilities like his are at a level some pros only wish they can be. As for putting—the part of his game that kept him from contending last week—that can be more variable. Niemann ranks 15th in strokes-gained tee-to-green, and is top 25 in the field in strokes gained: approach. An uptick in putting this week will surely have him back in contention.
Scott Piercy ($8,000) Piercy has been killing it in the ball striking categories this year, as well as just in general with back-to-back Top 10 finishes. Piercy ranks 24th in strokes gained: tee-to-green and 11th in strokes gained: approach. He was even better than that last week at the Shriners, ranking ninth in tee-to-green and fifth in driving accuracy. Piercy has been one of the best ball strikers on tour over the last few years, he just needs to get his putter going because it’s almost a guarantee that he’ll see a lot of makeable birdie putts.
Pat Perez ($7,700) Pat Perez is the 2016 Mayakoba Champion, so for $7,900, while not the sexiest pick at age 42, this is the kind of course where it doesn’t matter how old you are. There’s a reason Perez was able to win this tournament at age 40: length doesn’t matter here. Just put it in the fairway, everyone will have 8-iron to wedge into greens and from there it’s a contest of who can get up and down from 160 and in. This is a course where Perez knows he can hang with the big boys because there really isn’t much advantage there for them. He should be able to provide a lot of value as he’s the seventh-best value play according to DailyRoto’s value optimizer.
Bud Cauley ($7,200) Bud Cauley is also high on DailyRoto’s value optimizer coming in as the 11th-best value this week. Cauley is coming off of a T10 at the Shriners last week where his short game was on full display. After having his season mostly cut short by a devastating car crash, Cauley made a full recovery and was able to make it to the FedEx Cup Playoffs last season. He has been a beast on the Par 5s early in the season, currently ranking sixth in Par 5 scoring through eight rounds this year. He’s been solid on and around the greens as he also ranks sixth in strokes gained: around-the-greens. Cauley will look to make it back-to-back Top 10s this week.
Joel Dahmen ($6,800) Is it me or has Joel Dahmen gotten better since accusing Sung Kang of cheating last year. Dahmen famously called out fellow PGA golfer Sung Kang of cheating while the two were grouped together last summer. Since the controversy, Dahmen’s game has taken a step up as he’s finished inside the Top 30 in seven out of his last ten tournaments since then. Dahmen was one of the better tee-to-green players last season ranking 35th on Tour through the entire season. Dahmen finished T23 at the Mayakoba Classic last season even before his hot run at the end of the year. He’s a good choice for stars and scrubs lineups or balance lineups alike.
Also like: Tony Finau, Abraham Ancer, Matt Kuchar, Sung Jae Im, Kevin Kisner, Bronson Burgoon