Horses for Courses: Mayakoba Golf Classic

Way down here, you need a reason to move…

Move up the FedExCup list!

After a long weekend of turkey, football and online shopping, the PGA TOUR heads to the Mexican Riviera for sunshine, surf and plenty of birdies. Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen will be the 12th and final destination of the first act of the 2020-21 PGA TOUR season and El Camaleon Golf Club will provide the last chance for an early Christmas present.

Greg Norman’s El Camaleon has hosted all 14 events south of the border and this will be the seventh consecutive edition held in late fall. Stretching to just 7,017 yards and playing to Par-71, scoring will be front and center as the calendar turns to December. The seven fall winners have all produced winning totals on average of almost 20-under-par. The field of 132 will notice that the last four winners here have posted nothing worse than 19-under so it’s obvious a shoot-out is ready to break out.

El Camaleon will snake through the jungles and quarries before brushing up against the Caribbean Sea. The good news is there is room to work the ball off the tee and the rough is marginal. Poor shots though will disappear and big numbers can creep onto the card. Large Sea Isle Paspalum greens will have undulations/tiers so accurate iron players will take advantage. The greens won’t get past 11 feet because of the undulation and sea breeze so putts will be going down like Tequila after dark again this year.

Usually the formula in a shootout opens the door to all shapes and sizes, but that hasn’t been the case at El Camaleon since the switch to late fall. The last six winners have all been in their 30s and only one of them won for the first time on TOUR (Kizzire). Previous experience closing the door, keeping the ball out of the jungle and quarries and swallowing pars when necessary outweighs bravado and power this week. There have been zero multiple winners or repeat champions at this event. There hasn’t been a previous champion land his title defense in the top 10.

Not everyone on property this week is here for a beach vacation. The last man standing will take home $1.296 million from a $7.2 million prize pool and will also stuff 500 FedExCup points in his stocking.

Recent Event Winners Stats

PlayerBrendon ToddMatt KucharPatton Kizzire
Margin of Victory111
Driving Distance79T2821
Greens in Regulation3T9T7
Putting: Birdie or Better %12173
Total BirdiesT1 (24)T1 (26)T1 (25)
Total Eagles000
Putting Average:T8414
Bogey AvoidanceT2T1T7
Par-3 ScoringT2T19T16
Par-4 ScoringT111
Par-5 ScoringT46T12T3

Recent Winners and Notables

2019: Brendon Todd (-20, 264)
Became the first back-to-back winner on TOUR after claiming the title in Bermuda in the previous event. … First player to win twice in the fall part of the wrap-around schedule. … Previous best finish here was T49. … Fourth consecutive winner T19 or worse in driving distance. … Sixth of seventh winner since the move to fall with top 10 GIR. … Six of seven winners have been first or second in Par-4 scoring.

Notables: Carlos Ortiz (T2) played his final 54 holes 17-under and racked up his best career finish (at the time) on TOUR and best finish by a Mexican player. … Adam Long (T2) trailed by one after 63 in Round 1 and played the weekend bogey-free. … Vaughn Taylor (T2) sat one off the 54-hole lead and has never MC in seven trips. … Harris English (5th) was one back after 54 holes and tied Todd, Ortiz, Long and Taylor with the most birdies on the week, 24. … Joel Dahmen (T6) closed 66-65, his best result in three trips. … Robby Shelton (T6) posted three of four rounds 66 or better in his debut. …. Abraham Ancer (T8) had 71 bogey-free holes. … Billy Horschel (T8) backed up his 13-under from 2018 with 14-under in 2019. … 2017 champion and all-time money winner Pat Perez (T8) picked up his third top 10 payday in his last four visits. … Preferred lies were used all five days. … Lowest round of the week was 62 twice. … 15 players made 20 or more birdies. … Heading into the final 18 holes, every player in the top 10 MINUS the Ortiz brothers was a previous winner on TOUR. … Cut was 1-under (141). … Top 22 players 10-under or better.

2018: Matt Kuchar (-22, 282)
Not entered this year. … Set the tournament scoring record by defeating Danny Lee by a shot. … Broke 36 and 54-hole records. … Only winner (T3) in top 15 driving accuracy. … Couldn’t go wire-to-wire as he co-led with Kramer Hickok (T29) after opening with 64. … Won in his fourth attempt. … No form entering the week.

NotablesJJ Spaun (T3) paid off those who followed his T14-T28 the previous two years and co-led the field with 26 birdies. … Brice Garnett (5th) was T11 in 2019 and has hit the top 11 in four of the last five years. … Pat Perez (T6) posted four rounds of 67 or better. … Scott Piercy (T6) missed the course record 61 by a shot as he closed with 62 on Sunday. … Harold Varner III (T6) circled 25 birdies, T2 for the week. … Adam Hadwin (T10) equaled his best finish set in his last appearance in 2016. … Aaron Wise (T10) played his last 54 holes 16-under and circled 25 birdies. … Top 40 players were 10-under or better. … Only three rounds OVER par from the top 37 players. … PERFECT weather. … Cut was 4-under, T-lowest in event history.

2017: Patton Kizzire (-19, 263)
Opened with 62 and never trailed after the completion of any round to win for the first time on TOUR. … Played with Rickie Fowler the last 36 holes and beat him by a shot. … One of five winners in the fall T12 Birdie or Better Percentage (3rd). … T58 on debut the previous year. … Rolled into town off T4 and T10 so clearly in form.

Notables: Rickie Fowler (2nd) made 22 birdies and finished three shots ahead of third place. … Charles Howell III (T4) closed 66-66, best of the weekend. … Scott Brown (T6) picked up his second top 10 in three years. … Abraham Ancer (T9) picked up his first top 10 on TOUR. … Emiliano Grillo (T9) was T2 GIR and only made four bogeys. … Russell Knox (T9) missed the podium for the first time in three years. … Brian Stuard (T9) picked up his third top 10 in five tries. … Final 36 holes were preferred lies. … Only nine rounds above par from the top 33 players. … Cut was 1-under (141). … Top 19 players were 10-under or better.

Key stat leaders

Top golfers in each statistic on the 2019-2020 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week. * – Top 10 finish here since 2016 or past champion

Par-4 Birdie-or-Better Scoring Average
 5  Chesson Hadley
 6  Justin Thomas
10 Kristoffer Ventura
15 Daniel Berger
16 *Brian Gay (2008 winner)
18 *Billy Horschel
19 *Tony Finau
19 Brendan Steele
23 *Charley Hoffman (2015 winner)
25 *Harold Varner III
28 Matt Every
29 Denny McCarthy

Greens in Regulation
2  Kyle Stanley
 3  *Aaron Wise
 4  Will Gordon
 5  Russell Henley
 6  Corey Conners
 7  *Emiliano Grillo
 9  *Harris English
13 Henrik Norlander
15 *Harold Varner III
16 *Pat Perez
19 Jhonattan Vegas
20 Chesson Hadley
21 Nick Watney
23 *Russell Knox
24 Chris Baker
25 Joseph Bramlett
26 Bo Hoag
27 *Brice Garnett
30 Cameron Percy
31 Justin Thomas

1  Daniel Berger
 3  *Brendon Todd
 5  Russell Henley
 6  *Harris English
 7  Adam Schenk
 8  Mark Anderson
 9  Brian Harman
10 *Abraham Ancer
15 David Hearn
18 Kramer Hickok
20 Alex Noren
22 *Russell Knox
24 Tim Wilkinson
25 Justin Thomas

Horses for Courses

Top Money Leaders (Starts/Cuts Made)Top 10sTop 25Recent Top FinishNotes
Pat Perez (7/8)35T8 (2020)No. 1; Win (2017); T6 (2019)
Harris English (4/7)225 (2020)No. 3; Win (2013)
Patton Kizzire (4/4)11Win (2018)No. 4; T50s in other 3
Russell Knox (7/7)33T9 (2018)No. 5; T2 (2016), 3 (2017), T9 (2018)
Brendon Todd (2/4)11Win (2020)No. 6; T49 previous best
Brice Garnett (5/6)355 (2019)5 straight T25 or better; 4 of 5 T11 or better
Carlos Ortiz (4/6)22T2 (2020)T9 debut 2015
Abraham Ancer (4/5)23T8 (2020)T21, T9 previous two
Charles Howell III (9/11)38T4 (2018)T4 best; eight of nine T25 or better
Emiliano Grillo (4/4)23T9 (2018)T10 debut 2017; no rounds above par
Billy Horschel (4/5)13T8 (2020)27-under last two years
Scott Piercy (6/9)24T6 (2019)T4 (2017); T26 or better last four visits
John Huh (5/7)13Win (2012)T29 or better in all five weekends
New Arrivals
Adam Long (1/1)11T2 (2020)63 to open; all four rounds in the 60s
Robby Shelton (1/1)11T6 (2020)Two rounds of 66 plus a 65
Vaughn Taylor (7/7)12T2 (2020)Only top 15 payday
Rickie Fowler (2/2)122 (2018)T16 (2019); 32-under
Joel Dahmen (3/3)12T6 (2020)T23 (2018); all 12 rounds in the red

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