This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Mayakoba Golf Classic
El Chameleon GC (6,987 yards, par 71)
$1,296,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO – Just two weeks remain before a winter break on the PGA Tour, but before then the Tour travels south of the border for the Mayakoba Golf Classic. The event made headlines in 2007 as the first PGA Tour event contested outside of the U.S. and Canada, and remains Mexico's only PGA Tour event to this day. El Chameleon GC, a 2004 course crafted by Greg Norman, incorporates a dynamic "Chameleon" setup that features distinct jungle, mangrove, and ocean-side views as a short par-71 layout. Seven Mexican pros will tee it up this week along with headliners Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, the latter of whom finished runner-up at this event last season. Defending champion Patton Kizzire will look to repeat while journeyman Chris Stroud makes his 12th appearance at this event, the only player in the field with perfect attendance. Expect plenty of birdies to litter the landscape this week and a winning score of at least 17-under par.
Recent Past Champions
2017 – Patton Kizzire
2016 – Pat Perez
2015 – Graeme McDowell
2014 – Charley Hoffman
2013 – Harris English
2012 – John Huh
2011 – Johnson Wagner
2010 – Cameron Beckman
2009 – Mark Wilson
2008 – Brian Gay
Key Stats to Victory
• Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
• Driving Accuracy percentage
• Birdie-or-better conversion percentage
The skills required to win at El Chameleon strongly mimic those needed at Waialae CC (Sony Open) and Harbour Town Golf Links (RBC Heritage) - drive it in accurately and convert makeable birdie putts. At less than 7,000 yards, El Chameleon won't give advantage to long hitters, as it's quite short for everyone in the field. Since the event held its own slot on the calendar and produced stronger fields, the winning score has been at least 17-under, so birdies are mandatory if you want to contend. Also consider that eight of the past 11 champions have been over the age of 30, which contradicts the typical youth trend in most other events in the early wraparound season. It all adds up to a profile that favors established ball strikers who can make plenty of birdies, but that doesn't mean the trending youngsters still can't compete.
FanDuel Value Picks
Rickie Fowler, $12500 – Fowler got upended by one stroke last year at El Chameleon in his first appearance, so he will be even more hungry to enter the winner's circle this time around. The field is slightly stronger than last year but is still quite weak, representing a great chance for the rounded Fowler to contend again. Fowler is perennially among the best on the PGA Tour in birdie-or-better percentage, so going low should feel quite natural for him, especially given his strong showing last season.
Jordan Spieth, $12300 – Spieth is beginning his 2018-19 wraparound season with two new events in consecutive weeks. Though unfamiliar with the layout, Spieth's strategic nature off the tee along with elite iron play and great putting make for a great fit at El Chameleon. Spieth showed some rust in Las Vegas last week en route to a T55, but he's worlds better than most of the field and should finish much better in Mexico.
Tony Finau, $11900 – Finau struggled with his irons and putter last week in Vegas, but his overall trend the last few months is unparalleled by most. The Utah native was T7 at El Chameleon back in 2014 but missed the cut in 2016. His driving distance advantage will be muted this week, but if he can find his putter like he has in recent months he could easily contend in a weaker field.
Billy Horschel, $10100 – Horschel didn't fare well in his two Asian swing events, finishing T33 and T67, but that was mostly due to putting struggles. His ball striking has been spot on since the start of the FedExCup playoffs in late August, so if he can somehow find favor in his putting, he should have no problem finding the leaderboard on Sunday.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Sam Ryder, $9600 – A recent fourth-place finish at the Safeway Open and third-place finish at last week's Shriner's Open clearly mean Ryder is in form now. His missed cut of yesteryear is much less relevant considering his current form, so don't fret too much about his lone start here. Ryder is a nice momentum play in a weak field at El Chameleon and is worth a risk at under $10000.
Cameron Champ, $9400 – Champ missed the cut last year in Mexico, but his hot start of three top-30s (including a win) make him an incredible value this week. If there's one value play this week, it's Champ. He will be heavily owned on FanDuel, but if you fade him you're missing out on his serious upside.
Bill Haas, $9300 – Haas is an experienced veteran with great driving accuracy, a favorable combination for El Chameleon. He hasn't played this event since 2009, but being under the radar is what makes him a great value. Expect a made cut here with upside for a top-10.
Sungjae Im, $8700 – The 20-year-old last week validated his top-5 at the Safeway Open with a top 15 at the Shriner's Open, proving his worth as a youngster on Tour. So far this season he's driven it very well and putted with poise, so playing El Chameleon should be a good fit. There's definite risk betting on such little experience, but at this price you could do much worse.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
Experience trumps youth and accuracy trumps distance this week, so beyond the few top selections in Fowler and Spieth, seek out experienced players who have shown driving accuracy and putting prowess throughout their careers.