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This week the PGA Tour moves to beautiful Playa del Carmen, Mexico for the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Designed by Greg Norman, the 6,987-yard, par-71 El Camaleon Golf Club resort course lies among many mangroves, and is right alongside the Caribbean Sea. First played in 2007 the Mayakoba has been played only at this course, and there has yet to be a two-time champion.

Though this tournament immediately follows a World Golf Championship event in China and is missing some of the top players, it will guarantee for the winner a trip down Magnolia Lane at Augusta for the Masters, as well as entry into the PGA Championship, the Players Championship and the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in Hawaii.

Odds to win the Mayakoba Golf Classic

PlayerOdds
Matt Kuchar+1600
Jason Day+1800
Tony Finau+1800
Viktor Hovland+1800
Billy Horschel+2000
Abraham Ancer+2500
Joaquin Niemann+2500
Harris English+2800
Charles Howell III+2800
Russell Knox+2800

For the first six years of its existence, the Mayakoba was an opposite-field event to the WGC Match Play. However, once the PGA season extended into two different calendar years, it’s been a stand-alone tournament, and the quality of the Mayakoba field has gradually gotten better over the last several years.

You don’t need to be a big hitter to win

One thing that jumps out about the past winners is that most would not be what you would call a long hitter. The first three champions in this eventFred Funk, Brian Gay and Mark Wilsonwere/are among the shortest hitters on the PGA Tour. Others to have hoisted this trophy include Graeme McDowell, Pat Perez, Patton Kizzire and defending champion Matt Kuchar. These four are also, by PGA Tour standards at least, short off the tee.

Young Niemann could be live in Mexico

One player who merits attention in this affair is Chilean Joaquin Niemann. Formerly the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur, the 21-year-old posted an authoritative six-shot victory in the recent A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier. Due in part to that success, Ernie Els made him a captain’s pick for the upcoming Presidents Cup in Australia. With his win at Greenbrier, Niemann became just the third under-21 player (his birthday was November 7) born outside of the United States to win on the PGA Tour. That list includes Rory McIlroy and the late Seve Ballesteros.

So far this season, Niemann ranks first in strokes gained putting, fifth in strokes gained tee to green and first in strokes gained overall. Since his victory in West Virginia, Niemann has a creditable tie for 12th at the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in South Korea and a mid-pack showing at the Zozo Championship in Japan. At+2500 he’s probably worth a play for a win and in each-way wagering.

Ancer another nice price play

Another obvious player worth a look is Mexico’s own Abraham Ancer, who is at +3000. He tied for ninth two years ago in this tournament and tied for 21st last season. He made the Presidents Cup team outright and probably looks at this tournament as a sort of fifth major. The product of the University of Oklahoma exits a strong tie for fourth in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and has proven recent form that could seriously contend here.


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