Sat, Dec 14, 2019

There are only two official events left on the PGA Tour schedule this calendar year before the months flip and we’re right back where we start every year: in Hawaii for the Tournament of Champions. Following a rare bye week for this tour, it returns to the Mayakoba Golf Classic, site of great drama and controversy this time one year ago.

Let’s take a look at this week’s contest.

Event information

What: Mayakoba Golf Classic | When: Nov. 14-17
Where: El Camaleon Golf Club — Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Ranking the field (odds)

  1. Viktor Hovland (18-1): I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think he’s the best player in the field.
  2. Tony Finau (18-1): At some point he’s going to win his second, right?
  3. Billy Horschel (22-1): Top 10 in two of his last four. Sneaking back into the top 30 in the world.
  4. Matt Kuchar (16-1): Too much going on this week to overcome it and win two in a row.
  5. Emiliano Grillo (33-1): Top 10 in strokes gained tee to green, one of the most underrated in the world.
  6. Joaquin Niemann (22-1): An absolute menace, but no top 10s since winning Greenbrier.
  7. Lanto Griffin (40-1): Top 20 in each of his last five events!
  8. Kevin Kisner (33-1): Quietly starting to build his case for a 2020 Ryder Cup bid.
  9. Jason Day (18-1): Still gets odds like the talent exists (and it does), but he hasn’t showed up of late.
  10. Denny McCarthy (40-1): Top 20s in each of his last four events. 

Field strength — C: It’s not great, but it’s also never that great. Finau is a nice boost, but this event is missing some star power from Rickie Fowler (see below).

Three things to know

1. Matt Kuchar’s return: It sounds like all has been forgiven in David Giral Ortiz’s (known as El Tucan) world after the months-long fiasco over a tiny tip from Kuchar after last year’s win (Kuchar originally gave El Tucan just $5,000). However, there will be endless chatter about it, and Kuchar will have to field question after question throughout the week. I don’t know that I’m looking forward to this, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on throughout the week.

2. No Rickie Fowler: Normally a staple at this event, Fowler recently contracted a bacterial infection and won’t play. He would be the second-highest ranked player in the field (behind Finau) and one of just three ranked in the top 25. That’s a bummer for those of us watching but an even bigger bummer for the event and those in attendance.

3. Chris Kirk’s return: This re-emergence is a much more heart-warming one as Kirk will play for the first time since the RBC Heritage in April. He’s been out since then battling alcoholism. He’s been a great player in the past and seems hopeful for the future, both on and off the course. 

Past winners

  • 2018: Matt Kuchar
  • 2017: Patton Kizzire
  • 2016: Pat Perez
  • 2015: Graeme McDowell
  • 2014: Charley Hoffman

Mayakoba Golf Classic picks

Winner: Viktor Hovland (18-1) — Cool to go with one of the favorites, I know, but he’s been awesome of late. And like I said off the top, I think he’s the best player in this field.

Top 10: Emiliano Grillo (+300) — Not talked about enough, and he’s the all-time strokes gained leader on this course. 

Sleeper: Si Woo Kim (80-1) — He’s been terrific on this course, and I’m always buying Si Woo stock at higher than 75-1.

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