OHL CLASSIC AT MAYAKOBA
Purse: $7M (plus $10)
Winner's Share: $1.26M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Course: El Camaleon Golf Club
2015 champion: Graeme McDowell
This is the 10th anniversary of the tournament (hence the extra $10 in the purse), but it is only in its fourth year as a stand-alone event in the fall. For the first six years, the OHL Classic was opposite the WGC-Match Play Championships in the spring. El Camaleon is among the shortest tracks on tour, really a throwback in this era of 7,500-yard behemoths. The fourth hole is a mere 116 yards, and it played as the easiest par-3 on tour last year; the 151-yard 8th was not far behind. As for the par-4s, the 360-yard 11th was another pushover, but the 452-yard 14th was among the hardest. Overall, good ball-strikers will eat up El Camaleon, which finishes with the reachable par-5 18th that will provide closing eagle opportunities. It is among one of the most beautiful courses the field of 132 golfers will see all year, traversing tropical jungles, mangrove forests and even some oceanfront. That sounds like there's a lot of trouble lurking, and there is. At No. 19 in the OWGR, Russell Knox, loser in a playoff to Graeme McDowell last year, is the highest ranked golfer. Only three more in the top-35 are on hand: No. 26 Emiliano Grillo, No. 32 Jim Furyk (playing the tournament for the first time) and No. 35 Scott Piercy, who has teed it up every week so far this fall. Maybe Furyk heard that seven of the first nine winners here have been over 30, a sign that the biggest hitters do not have an advantage on this short track. Weather-wise, it will be hot and humid and, with rain forecast primarily in the days leading up to the tournament, conditions should be soft, as they were last year.
Key Stats to Winning at El Camaleon
• Ball striking
• Driving accuracy
• Greens in regulation
2015 - Graeme McDowell
2014 - Charley Hoffman
2013 - Harris English
2012 - John Huh
2011 - Johnson Wagner
2010 - Cameron Beckman
2009 - Mark Wilson
2008 - Brian Gay
2007 - Fred Funk
We debated whether to omit a putting statistic from the Key Stats. Putting always matters, but at El Camaleon, the greens are quite slow, neutralizing the best putters. Instead, this course is all about position: where they put the ball in the fairway, and then getting it on the green. And, if they miss the green, their ability to get up and down will be critical. That said, McDowell won last year with great putting and a substandard tee-to-green game. His playoff combatants chose a different tack: Russell Knox was first in GIR and Jason Bohn was 21st; both were among the top 15 in the field in scrambling. Charley Hoffman was fourth in GIR when he won, and Harris English 10th in GIR. (Note: The ball striking stat does indeed combine total driving and GIR, but we wanted to further emphasize driving accuracy and GIR this week.)
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Russell Knox - $11,800 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 15-1)
We always tout Knox on shorter courses, and this surely qualifies. But his price as the top guy on the DraftKings board gives us pause. He should do well this week, but when crafting a six-man roster, money might be better spent elsewhere.
Emiliano Grillo - $11,200 (15-1)
Grillo carries the No. 2 price in the field and the co-favorite on golfodds.com. He already has two top-25s and places 28th on tour in SG tee-to-green. Grillo is among a few guys we like this week whose biggest troubles are specific to putting. It shouldn't hurt him too much here.
Jon Rahm - $10,700 (20-1)
Rahm burst upon the scene over the summer, but even beforehand there were indications of his prowess, as he tied for 10th here. The Spaniard is sixth in strokes gained tee-to-green so far on the young season. Putting has been his Kryptonite.
Jim Furyk - $10,200 (25-1)
Furyk is old, and old guys play well here! Seriously, we're interested in seeing how Furyk does in his first OHL start and his first start since last season. This course is certainly suited for his precision game.
Tier 2 Values
Keegan Bradley - $10,000 (25-1)
Here's another guy who can't putt. But Bradley has been performing well this season, at 11th in SG tee-to-green. Plus his SGP is "only" 107th, which for him is a huge improvement. Bradley tied for eighth last year at El Camaleon, and is coming off consecutive top-10s in his past two starts. He just might be turning a corner.
Anirban Lahiri - $9,000 (40-1)
Lahiri makes his first start in this tournament. This course should suit him beautifully. He's made only one PGA start, finishing third at the CIMB Classic, but he also was playing well in Asia before that.
Luke List - $7,800 (60-1)
List certainly has brought an improved all-around game to the new season. He's always been a bomber, but in 2016-17 he is 11th on tour in strokes gained total and 14th in SG tee-to-green.
Jason Bohn - $7,600 (80-1)
Sometimes you don't have to dig too deep. Bohn lost in a playoff last year, was seventh the year before and third the year before that.
Tier 3 Values
Luke Donald - $7,500 (60-1)
Donald has never played here before, and why the heck not? The long-range game has passed him by, but he still performs well on shorter tracks where precision matters. We can only hope he has settled down from his Cubs-high to adequately prepare.
Harold Varner - $7,100 (80-1)
We were surprised to see that Varner was T5 here last year, third off the tee in distance but also eighth in accuracy. And further surprised to see he's first on tour in ball striking this season and fifth in GIR.
Ryan Blaum - $6,900 (80-1)
We've been riding the Web.com Tour grad hard so far in the young season, but he's been paying off, 3-for-3 in cuts with a finish no worse than T31 (last week). He's 23rd in SG around the green and 40th in GIR.
Jim Herman - $6,400 (Field, 2-1)
Herman ranks third on tour in ball striking this season and 14th in GIR. Yes, that's only six rounds, including an MC at the Sanderson Farms. But Herman also has been top-25 the past two years at Mayakoba.
Aaron Wise - $6,300 (80-1)
Wise surely has been one the Flavors of the Month in the new season, tying for 10th last week to get into this field. His low price concerns us -- is this a trap? Nothing in his stats really stands out. But at the cheap price, he's worth the gamble.
Zac Blair - $6,200 (Field, 2-1)
Blair comes out week after week with a little pop gun against guys with howitzers. It's amazing he still has his card. He does much of his damage on shorter tracks -- he was T10 here last year and T23 the year before. He's 24th in SG around the green this season.
Kyle Reifers - $6,200 (Field, 2-1)
Putting has been killing Reifers -- he's 162nd on tour in SGP. But he's 18th in SG tee-to-green, and that should set him nicely for weekend play.
Spencer Levin - $6,000 (Field, 2-1)
Levin has made six straight cuts at El Camaleon, including a T10 last year and a runner-up cash way back in 2011. He was third in the field in scrambling last year.