OHL Classic at Mayakoba – Playa del Carmen, Mexico
El Chameleon GC (6,987 yards, par 71)
$1,278,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner
The penultimate event before many players take off for a winter break, the OHL Classic at Mayakoba will exhibit a full field of 132 this week as Mexico’s only PGA Tour event. The event made headlines in 2007 as the first PGA Tour event contested outside of the U.S. and Canada, and since 2013 has maintained a slot on the fall calendar. With a notably high purse of $7.1 million, it’s the highest-stakes golf tournament in Latin America. El Chameleon GC, a 2004 course crafted by Greg Norman, incorporates a “Chameleon” setup that winds through distinct jungle, mangrove, and ocean-side views as a shorter par-71 layout. Defending champion and hot hand Pat Perez will join top-ranked player in the field Rickie Fowler and a host of nine Latin American pros, including five from Mexico. Interestingly, all but one of the event’s 10 former champions are American-born. Four of the eight editions have ended in a playoff, so expect closely contended golf down the stretch come Sunday.
Prior Decade Champions
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
2007 – Fred Funk
Key Stats to Winning at El Chameleon
· Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
· Par-4 Scoring Average
· Birdie-or-better conversion percentage
El Chameleon shares a unique and strikingly similar profile to Waialae CC (Sony Open) and Harbour Town Golf Links (RBC Heritage) - drive it in position and convert on makeable birdie putts. At less than 7,000 yards, El Chameleon won’t strike distance fear in anyone teeing it up this week, so bombing it doesn’t provide much of an advantage. 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 required to contend. And because the course features a higher-than-normal 11 par-4s, the course inherently favors par-4 scoring average, so take a close look at players who excel in that realm. Also consider that eight of the event’s 10 champions have been over the age of 30, which strongly bucks the youth trend of the other fall events surrounding it on the calendar.
FanDuel Value Picks
Rickie Fowler, $10300 – Fowler makes his first appearance to El Chameleon, but this shouldn’t scare you in the least as he’s easily the field’s best overall player. Last year Fowler was 16th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, sixth in Par-4 scoring average, and fifth in birdie-or-better conversion, making him a glove-like fit for this venue. If Fowler can keep it in play off the tee, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be in the mix down the stretch Sunday.
Patrick Reed, $9600 – As the third-highest ranked player in the field at No. 22, Reed’s strength has proven to be his short game and putting. Though these skills translate everywhere, this type of game excels in low-scoring events like this one, where converting birdies and making clutch pars on the greens are important to maintaining momentum.
Pat Perez, $9300 – This week’s defending champion has finished no worse than 24th in the last two months, including his victory at the CIMB. Converging trends of history and form don’t get much better than Perez this week, meaning he’ll be heavily owned on Fanduel, but a good pick nonetheless.
Zach Johnson, $8800 – Johnson’s precision game is tailored for short courses where birdies are commonplace, just ask the John Deere Classic Board of Directors (which includes Johnson himself)! Joking aside, Johnson’s first time to El Chameleon should be fruitful especially with his last two PGA Tour starts producing top-20s.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Chesson Hadley, $7400 – Hadley has parlayed an incredible Web.com season last year into a PGA Tour hot streak with top-5s his first three events. Hadley did miss the cut here in 2014 but that is more than trumped by his incredible form now. Expect good things from Hadley again this week.
Jason Kokrak, $6900 – Kokrak has posted finishes of 15th, 16th, and 17th in his three starts at the OHL Classic. When you combine that with top-20s his first three events of this season, it’s easy to like the big fella at a reasonably priced $6900.
Austin Cook, $5600 – The youngster from Arkansas finished the Web.com season with three top-11s, capping a breakthrough season of eight top-10s to earn his PGA Tour card. After top-25s at the Sanderson Farms and Shriner’s Open to start the season, Cook appears primed to continue his stifling run into the new wraparound season.
Ryan Armour, $5400 – Armour hit on all cylinders in his win at the Sanderson Farms Championship a couple weeks ago and he followed it up with a 20th at the Shriner’s Open last week. After a trying season on the PGA Tour a year ago, Armour has already doubled last season’s output in two events. It’s not foolish to expect a falloff at some point but the veteran fits the mold this week and is easily worth a risk at $5400.
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 Perez, seek out experienced players who have shown accuracy and putting prowess throughout their careers.