Well this is it. The end of the longest season of golf is finally here. I mean, it's time for the PGA Tour to take a break before resuming in 2014 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. For those who started their fantasy season five weeks ago, it's time for an awkward break in the middle of their season. For those who never paid attention to golf after the Tour Championship, it's pretty much business as usual.
Did the PGA Tour accomplish what it set out to do this fall? That depends on what the goal was. If the goal was to drive more public interest, then probably not. Golf has always taken a backseat to the other major sports during autumn, but for the hard-core fans, the schedule change was likely a welcome sight. Although the goal is always to improve viewership, I think the PGA Tour wanted to improve their membership process. By allowing partially exempt members to play during this fall session, I think they accomplished that. In years past, players who got hot for a very short time at Q-School gained access to the PGA Tour, and, more often than not, those players struggled with the weekly grind. The new system allows the players to get a taste of what it's actually like on the PGA Tour, which in theory should lead to players who are better prepared. Of course, all of this is speculation. We won't know anything for certain until next season ... ah, until the 2013-14 season resumes in January.
This week: OHL Classic at Mayakoba
Course: El Camaleon Golf Club, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Last Year: John Huh shot a final-round 63 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Robert Allenby.
Players to Consider:
Say what? I know, it's a little odd having someone like Baird atop this list, but he's got the track record here and is coming off a T2 last week in Georgia. Track records at this event are a little tricky because this event has been played opposite a WGC event the last six years, but Baird has five consecutive top-15s here, which means he obviously has a great feel for the course.
We've all seen what Gay can do when he gets on a roll, and if last week's result is any indication (a Top-5 at the McGladrey Classic), then he might be ready to roll. Couple that with his track record here, a win in 2008 and a Top-5 in 2011, and Gay might be ready to get back into the winner's circle.
As mentioned, if a player was in the Top 64 for any part of the last six years, they may have missed this event. Clark fits that bill as he's spent plenty of time inside the Top 64 the last six years, so this will be his first trip here. The good news is he's coming off a T2 last week and will be one of the highest-rated players in the field this week.
Wagner has made a habit of performing well year after year in certain spots on the PGA Tour, and seeing how he won here just two years ago, this looks like one of them. He's not the most consistent player, but he's pretty good when he gets in a groove.
Stroud has been hit or miss during this short season, he's missed two cuts and finished T3 at the CIMB. His outlook this week is good, though, as he comes into this year's Mayakoba Classic on a streak of two Top-5s at this event.
Players to Avoid:
Kirk is coming off a big win last week in Georgia and now heads to Mexico. Could you blame him if he's not quite focused this week? He's also a first-timer here, so this week might see more time spent on the beach than the golf course.
Driscoll has played this event three times with absolutely no success. If he were a high-end player, you might have to question his motivation at this event, but that's likely not the case for Driscoll; he probably just doesn't have a good feel for this course.
Huh will defend a title for this first time this week, which is rarely a good thing. He's also not in great form, either. He's made all three of his cuts this year, but his best finish was a T30 at the Shriner's Open.
Like Huh, Allenby also played well here last year when he finished runner-up, but unlike Huh, his form is really off, not just a little off. Allenby has made just one of three cuts this year and his best finish is a T62.
Davis Love III
Love III isn't quite ready to give up on the PGA Tour and head off to greener pastures on the Champions Tour, but if his play doesn't improve, he may want to reconsider. In three events this season, Love III has finished no better than T62.