The Mayakoba Golf Classic has gone from strength to strength. Although it was widely welcomed by Mexican golf fans when introduced on the PGA Tour in 2007, few fans watched the action on TV as it ran as an alternate event. That all changed in 2013 when it became a fully fledged PGA Tour event, attracting stronger fields and much more support from fans.
Billy Horschel is one of many PGA Tour stars who have embraced the Mayakoba Golf Classic for some years now. He’s usually played solid if unspectacular golf at El Camaleon but is primed for his best showing yet in Mexico so is well worth support at 22/1 with Ladbrokes.
El Camaleon is up there with the most picturesque golf courses used by the PGA Tour. With holes that wind through the jungle, it is stunning from start to end and has become a popular stop off for golfing tourists. Indeed, this is a resort course which goes a long way to explaining why scoring on the Greg Norman design is usually so low.
There may be real trouble wide of the fairways but PGA Tour players are able to throttle back and ensure they don’t stray too far from the short grass given the total length for the par 70 is just a shade over 7,000 yards. Missing the greens can also lead to a dropped shot but players should only be forced to scramble occasionally as the putting surfaces are significantly larger than the PGA Tour norm.
As is usual with golf courses set in tropical conditions, the weather can be unpredictable at El Camaleon. The early part of the week saw some fairly heavy rain and there are more showers in the forecast for Thursday and Friday. Conditions play a large role in just how gettable this course is so we should expect the damp, receptive greens to yield a typically high number of birdies.
|El Camaleon Golf Club||Playa del Carmen, Mexico||7,017 Yards||$7,200,000|
Putting aside the debate about his generosity levels, Matt Kuchar was a popular winner of last year’s Mayakoba Golf Classic. The local golf fans and those who travel to Playa del Carmen love the chance to see some big PGA Tour stars competing and Kuchar is one of the most well known. He is joined by other big characters and world class golfers such as Pat Perez and Graeme McDowell on the list of recent winners. That’s another indicator of how far this tournament has come.
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2018||Matt Kuchar||-22||1 Stroke|
|2017||Patton Kizzire||-19||1 Stroke|
|2016||Pat Perez||-21||2 Strokes|
|2014||Charley Hoffman||-17||1 Stroke|
Analysis: A Ball Striker’s Paradise in Paradise
It is easy for amateur golfers playing at El Camaleon to get lost in the beauty of the place. The professionals teeing it up this week have no such luxury, they must be right on top of their game from the first shot to the last shot of every round to keep up with the required pace of scoring if they are to have any chance of winning.
As this is far from the longest course used on the PGA Tour, what players do with their approach shots into the green is significantly more important than what they do off the tee. This is a course where the best ball strikers almost inevitably come to the fore. Those who can avoid bogeys when they miss the odd green will have the best chance of all though.
Horschel Ready to Win Again
Billy Horschel is an incredibly competitive man. It’s that competitiveness that has driven him to the top echelons of golf but he has resolved to enjoy himself and the experiences that golf has offered him whilst aiming to win as much as possible. To that end he has competed in events all around the world this year and it is no surprise to see him make another international trip this week.
Horschel knows all about El Camaleon. He’s played in the Mayakoba Golf Classic four times before, finishing in the top 30 three times. Whilst his record here is decent, it’s not as good as a ball striker of his calibre would hope. At his best, Horschel is able to take this sort of golf course apart with his world class iron play which is exactly what he should be able to do this week.
With two top 10 finishes to his name already this season, it’s clear that Horschel is going to be a major player in some big events over the coming months. He certainly has the class to finish on top of this field in Mexico.
Look to Profit from Garnett’s Consistency
The bookies are finding it tough to pick an outright favourite for the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Recent years have seen plenty of winners go in at fairly long odds so it is the sort of event at which it pays to have a couple of options. Of all those tempting players available at longer odds, none are quite as tempting as Brice Garnett.
36-year-old Garnett loves returning to El Camaleon for this tournament. Although he’s never really threatened to win, he’s finished seventh or better in three of his last four starts in Playa del Carmen. Garnett arrives in Mexico on the back of a four week break. He should be nice and rested and ready to challenge again so an each way bet is in order at 80/1 with Coral.
Final Verdict: Billy Horschel to Win
On his day, Billy Horschel is capable of contending with anybody in the world of golf. He will absolutely believe that he has the quality to see off the challengers he’ll face in Mexico, especially as El Camaleon is a course that suits his style of golf. There’s some great betting value around this week including the 80/1 that Coral are quoting on Brice Garnett but it’s the 22/1 on Horschel from Ladbrokes that really stands out.
About the Mayakoba Golf Classic
The Mayakoba Golf Classic – which is held at El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen in Quintana Roo, Mexico – has been part of the PGA Tour since 2007. It was the first regular PGA Tour event to be held outside of the United States of America or Canada. The tournament has become a prestigious competition, with the world’s best players competing for the trophy each year.
The course at El Camaleon Golf Club, which has a length of 6,987 yards, can be tricky to navigate. Players seem to enjoy playing there in general though, with 2010 champion Cameron Beckman saying of the course, “I love the place. The layout is beautiful, the greens are awesome, and the course is challenging and fair.”
Funk Wins First in 2007
The inaugural tournament in 2007 was won by Fred Funk. Funk won eight PGA Tour titles during his career, with victory in Mexico being his last. A 50 year old Funk made history, becoming the oldest player to win on the tour in over three decades.
It was a thrilling event at Playa del Carmen, with Funk edging out South American Jose Coceres in a playoff. The Maryland man shot 14 under par to pick up the first Mayakoba Golf Classic and his last PGA Tour title.
Interestingly, not many of the world’s biggest players made the trip to Mexico for the first tournament, with Matt Kuchar being perhaps the biggest name that year. The likes of Boo Weekley, Bill Haas and Joe Ogilvie were present, but in general the inaugural Mayakoba Golf Classic wasn’t quite as glittering as it could have been in terms of the quality of the players in attendance.
McDowell Breaks the Trend
American players have enjoyed unrivalled success in this tournament since it began. Quite astoundingly, 12 of the 13 Mayakoba Golf Classics up to and including the 2019 renewal (that was played in the 2020 PGA Tour season… more of which later!) have been won by Americans. After eight successive American winners, however, Northern Ireland ace Graeme McDowell broke the trend in 2015 (2016 season).
McDowell picked up his first PGA Tour event for two years, winning a playoff against American Jason Bohn and Scottish star Russell Knox. “I’ve been dreaming of this day and I said I was going to appreciate it when it came,” said McDowell following his memorable triumph in Mexico.
American Winners of the Mayakoba Golf Classic – 2007 to 2020
|2013 (2014 season)||Harris English|
|2014 (2015 season)||Charley Hoffman|
|2016 (2017 season)||Pat Perez|
|2017 (2018 season)||Patton Kizzire|
|2018 (2019 season)||Matt Kuchar|
|2019 (2020 season)||Brendon Todd|
Kizzire Edges Out Fowler
In November 2017 (2018 PGA Tour season), Patton Kizzire won his first PGA Tour event. The man from Montgomery, Alabama went head-to-head with Rickie Fowler, who had won the Honda Classic just a few months earlier.
Kizzire got off to a blistering start, shooting a highly impressive score of 62 in his opening round. He couldn’t sustain that outstanding standard and managed only a one-under-par 70 in his second round. He bounced back a little in the third with a 66, then finished up with a decent enough score of 67. It could have gone either way in Mexico, but Kizzire held on to edge it, and thus secured a win on the PGA Tour for the first time. Fowler went on to finish just a single stroke behind. Two months later, Kizzire won the Sony Open in Hawaii, this time beating James Hahn in a playoff.
Todd Wins a Thriller in 2019
The 2019 version (yep, you’ve guessed it, on the PGA Tour 2020 season) was also a memorable tournament. Brendon Todd, Adam Long, Carlos Ortiz and Vaughn Taylor were all in with a shout of lifting the trophy in the latter stages with all having scored in the 60s for each of their opening three rounds.
When it came to the crunch, it was Todd (who had won the Bermuda Championship a couple of weeks before) who held his nerve to seal his third PGA Tour win. Pennsylvania-born Todd beat the other three by a single stroke at El Camaleon Golf Club, earning a handsome cheque for $1,296,000 in the process.
What’s in a Date?
The PGA Tour “year” does not follow a calendar year, and because the Mayakoba Golf Classic is played in the early part of the season; as such, since the 2013 event, the official year of each event (from the PGA Tour perspective) has actually been the following year.
So, the 2013 event took place in the 2014 PGA Tour season, the 2014 in the 2015 season and so on. The same system is in place for other early-season events, which is a minor headache for statisticians and historians, but it’s not something most fans need to be overly concerned about (although it could cause disputes in pub quizzes if a golf question isn’t worded explicitly!).