There is just one more tournament left on the PGA TOUR in 2020, as the pros tee it up south of the border after taking a week for Thanksgiving. The next major event won’t be until January 7, 2021, when the Hawaii swing starts with the Sentry Tournament of Champions, so get your fantasy golf lineups for the PGA TOUR ready to roll on DraftKings for the final time until after the holidays.
The field for the Mayakoba Golf Classic is led by Justin Thomas ($11,400) and Brooks Koepka ($11,000), who are each looking to finish the year with a win. Brendon Todd ($8,600) will be defending his title from last season as one of eight previous winners of this tournament in the field. Will Zalatoris ($9,200) will also be playing for the first time on the PGA TOUR since earning his Special Temporary Membership with a run of strong finishes this fall. Other top names teeing it up include Tony Finau ($10,700), Daniel Berger ($10,400) and Mexico’s own Abraham Ancer ($9,900) who make up a portion of the 29 from the top 100 in the OWGR scheduled to tee it up this week.
The Mayakoba Classic will once again be held on Greg Norman’s El Camaleón GC. The course is known for its varied terrain that includes dense mangroves, oceanside holes, tropical jungle, and even some massive limestone canals that bisect some holes. The course is also recognizable due to its unique “sinkholes,” which are cavern-like structures in the middle of some holes that have been known to gobble up wayward shots.
El Camaleón is one of the few places on the PGA TOUR where accuracy off the tee is much more important than distance. The fairways aren’t especially difficult to hit, but there aren’t many places where an extra 30-to-50 yards off the tee make a significant difference. The course typically yields low scores with the winning score at least -18 in each of the past five years. Statistically, we’re looking for players who can pile up birdies in a Resort style setup and gain shots all along the way, especially with their approach and on and around the green.
There are only three par 5’s in play if everything is set up as it is with the typical par-71 configuration. Those holes have been easy places to go low with Eagles in play regularly throughout the week. Players who excel on these holes will set themselves up to go low, which looks like it will be a necessity based on past results. The front nine is especially getable, as well, and should result in some nice birdie streaks and low scores.
Based on past leaderboards, I’m trying to target veterans in solid form and players who can perform well in tournaments that go low, including the recent RSM Classic, Bermuda Championship, CJ Cup at Shadow Creek and Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
As you build your lineups, you’ll need to blend the big names in action along with some affordable options. Check out these four options who I think can pay off with a good week at a very affordable salary below $7.5K on DraftKings.
John Huh, $7,400
It’s unusual to find a former champion in the value section, but Huh actually won on this track back in 2012 in his only career win on the PGA TOUR. He has made the cut in five of his seven trips to this event and finished in the top 30 in each of those five weekend appearances. He did miss the cut last year, but fired a 67 in Round 2 after opening with a 74.
Huh was missing from the PGA TOUR for much of this year and didn’t play a single event between The Honda Classic in February and the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October. He returned from his extended COVID-19 layoff playing well, though, and has made the cut in all three of his events since returning. Two weeks ago, he finished T12 at The RSM Classic firing a 66-65 on the weekend.
Like most of the players with success in Mayakoba in the past, Huh doesn’t profile as a masher off the tee but is typically on-point with his second shots. He is gaining .694 shots per round on approach in his 11 measured rounds this season and is averaging 4.5 birdies per round, which puts him in the top 30 so far this season. If he can stay on point with his approach shots, he should be able to continue his success and post another strong finish on a course he knows well. He is a little high-risk since he hasn’t played a ton in 2020, but I really like his form and game for this course.
Peter Malnati, $7,300
While much of Malnati’s success this year has been based on his work on the greens, the veteran has also been gaining shots on approach and around the green. He ranks in the top 10 in birdie average and has put together a nice start to the season with three top-25 finishes, highlighted by a runner-up finish at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Malnati showed he can go low with a -19 finish the following week at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open but that was only good enough for a T5.
Malnati’s game seems to fit the venue well since he does best on courses where he can compensate for his shortcomings off the tee. He has played this event six times in the past with three made cuts, but both of those were top-15 results. With his current form, he should be able to make the weekend and continue his strong fall showings.
Kyle Stanley, $7,100
Stanley led the field in shots gained on approach for The RSM Classic and finished with a solid T6. So far this season, he has been pretty solid in most areas of his game, but he’s losing shots on the green. It was mostly his poor putting that led to missed cuts at the Sanderson Farms Championship and Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October but the flat stick has been trending the right direction in each of his past four events. His greens in regulation and accuracy numbers have been strong, so if his putter can continue to come around he could be poised for a big week.
In his previous six trips to Mayakoba, Stanley has had mixed results, including missing the cut the past three times he has appeared. However, with his irons sharp and putter potentially coming around, I think he’s in store for a better result this time. While he did post a top-15 finish here in 2011, if you go with Stanley this week, you’re prioritizing his recent form over his course history. He also fits the profile of veteran grinders that have used Mayakoba to add a late-season win to their resume.
Cameron Percy, $6,400
Percy has quietly put together some strong results to start the season and is the kind of second-shot specialist that typically thrives at this course. He is in the top 30 in shots gained on approach this season and was last year as well. His putter has also been coming around in his five events this year resulting in a T8 at the Corales Puntacana in the Dominican Republic and a T26 at the Bermuda Championship. He missed the cut two weeks ago at The RSM Classic but should be rested and ready to bounce back in this event, especially since it fits the tropical locale and resort-style setup he has excelled at this season.
The veteran Aussie hasn’t teed it up in Mayakoba since 2015, when he missed the cut, but he did post a top-20 finish on this track back in 2011. Percy’s accuracy with his irons and recent form make him a good fit on this track, so if you’re looking for a seasoned vet poised to pull a surprisingly strong finish this week, I’d go with Percy as a cheap play.
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