OHL CLASSIC AT MAYAKOBA
Winner's Share: $1.278M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Course: El Camaleon Golf Club
2016 champion: Pat Perez
In the blink of an eye, we are motoring through the fall schedule and now there are just two more tournaments before the long break for the holidays. This week, we'll be treated to one of the more picturesque golf courses we'll see all year. El Camaleon Golf Club on the easternmost point of Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula features tropical jungles, dense mangrove forests and even some sandy oceanfront. For those wondering what, exactly, a mangrove is, it's a tree or shrub that features many tangled roots. In other words, they're big trouble for any of the 132 golfers whose ball finds one.
The OHL Classic has been around since 2007, but in 2013 the tournament moved from an opposite-field event in the spring to a stand-alone event in the fall, so we'll focus mostly on the last four years of play. At under 7,000 yards, the Greg Norman design is an anachronism to today's modern courses. But the track does have its defenses, including the aforementioned jungles and forests that require the golfers to keep the ball in or near the fairways. And the greens are on the small side, averaging roughly 6,000 square feet.
The tournament gets a real marquee name this year in the person of Rickie Fowler, who will play the tournament for the first time. At No. 10 in the OWGR, Fowler leads a quintet of top-30s, joined by No. 18 and defending champion Pat Perez, No. 22 Patrick Reed, No. 24 Charley Hoffman and No. 30 Kevin Chappell. Another top guy to keep an eye on is Gary Woodland. Last year's runner-up to Perez has fallen to No. 51 in the world, and life will be much easier for him if he can crack the top-50 by year's end.
Weather-wise, temperatures will be in the 80s with some chance of rain all four days, but also minimal wind, which could mean the winning score might approach Perez's record-tying 21-under total.
Key Stats to Winning at El Camaleon
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained approach
• Putting average/strokes gained putting
• Scrambling/strokes gained around the green
• Birdie or better percentage
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
There is quite a theme to the past winners here. Funk, Gay, Wilson, Beckman, McDowell, Perez -- all older guys, all shorter hitters. That's because the key to El Camaleon is positioning. You don't necessarily need to put the ball in the fairway, you just can't be too far off the fairway. Among the last four winners, none of them was top-15 in driving accuracy. But three of the four were top-11 in greens in regulation. Only McDowell was not, and he putted out of his mind. Three of the past four winners also were top-20 in scrambling. Perez put it all together: 11th in GIR, ninth in scrambling and third in putting average. Interestingly, the greens are paspalum grass, which isn't used on too many tracks. It's featured at one of the courses for the Puerto Rico Open and at the CIMB Classic, which Perez won three weeks ago. He obviously loves him some paspalum.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Rickie Fowler - $11,800 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 8-1)
Fowler has never played this tournament and has been idle since the Presidents Cup almost six weeks ago. But he's clearly the class of the field, and a few days of practice should bring him up to speed on El Camaleon.
Pat Perez - $11,300 (12-1)
Perez is the No. 2 choice on the DraftKings board, and no argument here. He's the defending champion and won three weeks ago in Malaysia -- as mentioned in the Champion's Profile, both courses feature paspalum greens.
Chesson Hadley - $9,900 (20-1)
All Hadley has done is finish T3-2-4 in his first three starts of the season in his return to the PGA Tour. And that follows two wins, a runner-up and a third in his final seven Web.com events of last season. The amazing run has to end sometime. We're saying it doesn't end this week. Hadley is eighth in strokes gained approach and 12th in strokes gained putting.
Chez Reavie - $9,200 (25-1)
Reavie has continued his fine play from last season, with four top-25s in four starts this season. He's 10th in driving accuracy, 11th in strokes gained approach and 20th in strokes gained tee to green. Reavie tied for fourth here last year.
Tier 2 Values
Zach Johnson - $9,100 (25-1)
Johnson was only 129th in greens in regulation last season, but that may be mostly a byproduct of his shorter drives. The majority of his iron shots will be from far closer this week. Johnson has teed it up only once so far this season, registering a T13 at the season-opening Safeway, where he gained more than a half-shot on the field in approach shots. This will be his OHL debut.
Charles Howell III - $8,900 (40-1)
Howell has racked up top-20s at El Camaleon in six of the past seven years, including a T7 last year. He also had two top-20s last month during the Asian Swing. Howell is 30th on the young season in greens in regulation.
Bryson DeChambeau - $8,700 (40-1)
DeChambeau has started 2017-18 fast. He tied for 17th at the Safeway and is coming off a T7 last week at the Shriners. And he's done it with solid work from the fairway -- eighth in greens in regulation, 12th in strokes gained approach. DeChambeau played the OHL once before, tying for 66th last year.
Jason Kokrak - $8,400 (30-1)
Like Howell, Kokrak combines good course history with good form. He's finished top-20 in all three visits to the OHL, and likewise is 3-for-3 in top-20s so far this season. Kokrak is a decent 41st in strokes gained putting and 57th in strokes gained approach, but he's an elite sixth on Tour in scrambling.
Tier 3 Values
Luke List - $7,900 (30-1)
List keeps on keeping on. He added a T20 last week at the Shriners to his T5 at the CJ Cup and his T13 at the CIMB the week before that. And he was T7 last year the OHL. List's $7,900 DK price surely does not jibe with his 30-1 odds, which make him the co-10th betting choice.
Stewart Cink - $7,700 (60-1)
Cink started his 2017-18 season in Asia, notching a T13 at the CIMB and a T33 at the CJ Cup. With no U.S. starts so far, Cink has no ShotLink data (no strokes gained stats). But he stands second on Tour in greens in regulation, Cink tied for 15th last year at El Camaleon.
Graeme McDowell - $7,700 (40-1)
McDowell has played the OHL tournament twice, winning it two years ago and respectably tying for 24th last year. The shorter course certainly plays to McDowell's strengths. Last week, McDowell tied for 10th in Las Vegas, finishing second in driving accuracy and third in strokes gained putting.
Nick Taylor - $7,400 (80-1)
The Winnipeg native opened the season with three top-25s before backing up slightly to a T32 last week at the Shriners. Taylor is 37th in strokes gained approach and 47th in both around and putting. He tied for 15th here last year.
Peter Malnati - $7,300 (150-1)
Malanti isn't an old guy like a bunch of those former winners, but he is a short hitter who relies on positioning and putting. For the most part, he's fared well here with a pair of top-15s before missing the cut last year. Malnati arrives 3-for-3 in cuts made this season with all his finishes in the 30-35 range. That aligns with his midrange strokes gained stats: 37th around, 54th approach and 55th putting. He'll need to improve his putting to fare well this week.
J.J. Spaun - $7,100 (80-1)
Spaun endured a cruel ending last week. He carried the lead late into Sunday at the Shriners only to finish with a pair of double bogeys to tumble to T10. If he can get that out of his head, he can ride good memories of a T28 last year El Camaleon. Spaun is ranked 16th in strokes gained approach.
Tyrone Van Aswegen - $6,900 (150-1)
The South African has made the cut here three of the past four years, albeit never with a high finish. But he's already notched a pair of top-25s on the young season, thanks to solid strokes gained numbers -- 25th around the green and 34th approach. Van Aswegen is also 15th in putting average.
Stephan Jaeger - $6,700 (150-1)
Jaeger made his way to the PGA Tour via a pair of wins midway through the Web.com season. He finished up missing the cut in four of his past five events. But has turned it around in his first full PGA season, making all three cuts so far, including a T20 last week at the Shriners. The German by way of the University of Tennessee has done it mostly tee to green, sitting 48th on Tour in greens in regulation.