The Mayakoba Golf Classic is a PGA Tour event which is played in Mexico, usually in November, though in 2020 the tournament will take place in early December. This was the first regular PGA Tour event to be played outside of the USA or Canada.
Although it was widely welcomed by Mexican golf fans when introduced in 2007, few fans watched the action on TV as it ran as an alternate event alongside the WGC Matchplay. That all changed in 2013 when it became a fully fledged PGA Tour event, attracting stronger fields and much more support from fans.
The host course for this tournament is the Greg Norman designed El Camaleon Golf Club, which is located around 60km south of Cancun on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The course itself is just a stone’s throw from the Caribbean Sea, no doubt a factor in the event’s popularity with players and spectators alike.
|El Camaleon Golf Club||Playa del Carmen, Mexico||7,017 Yards||$7,200,000|
The Mayakoba Classic has been an ever present on the PGA Tour since its introduction in 2007. In all of that time the tournament has been held at El Camaleon Golf Club, a course which has developed a reputation for allowing many different types of golfer to win.
With recent winners including Brendon Todd, Matt Kuchar and Graeme McDowell it’s clear that power is by no means a prerequisite for success. Instead, it is all about approach play and putting at Playa del Carmen. That is not going to change this week. A lot of rain has fallen in the lead up to the tournament and there’s even more in the forecast (particularly on Thursday) so the greens will be very receptive. Only the very best ball strikers will be able to separate themselves from the field in terms of strokes gained approaching the green.
Ultimately, it should be the best putter of the best approach players who comes out on top on this 7,017 yard layout and we should see a winning score of at least -20. There are going to be a lot of birdies but who will come out on top?
Mayakoba Golf Classic Betting Tips
The Mayakoba Classic has grown in stature with almost every passing year. It is certainly no second rate tournament and the strength of this year’s field is more impressive than ever. The betting is headlined by Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka and includes other major champions and multiple PGA Tour winners.
It’s perhaps a little surprising to see so many big name players turn out for a December tournament but there are important FedEx Cup ranking points to play for while many others will be incentivised by the chance to earn a place in the Players Championship, the Masters and the PGA Championship.
Players towards the top of the betting don’t have a particularly strong record in the Mayakoba Classic. Graeme McDowell is the shortest priced winner of the last five years and even he went in at the highly rewarding price of 33/1. What McDowell had in common with many other tournament winners is a lot of experience at the top level. That is an important factor as close finishes are common at El Camaleon, so punters should be careful not to bet on a player who is going to wilt under the pressure of winning on the PGA Tour.
Justin Thomas - 13/2
If anybody has the game to end the miserable run of favourites in the Mayakoba Classic it’s surely Justin Thomas. The American has been playing golf of the very highest calibre consistently for a number of months now and he clearly feels as though he can strike while the iron is hot. The world number three was fourth at the Masters last time out and has not finished worse than tied 12th in his last five tournaments. He hasn’t got over the line in that run which has seen him finish 4th, T2, T12, T8 and tied third but we think this could well be the week when he adds another victory to his impressive tally.
Thomas will have to reacquaint himself with El Camaleon having not played in this event for five years. That job will be made tougher by the inclement weather he has to contend with but the 27-year-old is a well travelled golfer who is able to quickly get to grips with different challenges. He is also one of the very best ball strikers in the sport.
Thomas ranks fourth for strokes gained total in the current PGA Tour season. That number means his all round game is in fine shape but his stats are particularly impressive from tee to green and scrambling when missing the green. Thomas should also putt well this week as he has won twice before on Paspalum greens so everything is pointing towards him being the worthy favourite in Mexico.
Will Zalatoris - 33/1
A win for Justin Thomas this week would take his tally to 14 on the PGA Tour. For all that he cherishes each of his wins, there is no doubt that the victory would mean more to Will Zalatoris than to Thomas and the other multiple PGA Tour champions in the field this week.
Zalatoris’ sole professional win to date came on the Korn Ferry Tour and his inability to make it through Q-School suggested that he would have to put his dreams of competing on the PGA Tour to one side. However, he redoubled his efforts and has put in some excellent performances over recent months culminating in his earning of Special Temporary Membership. That allows him to make unlimited starts through sponsors’ invitations and the hope is that he will be able to do enough to earn a PGA Tour card.
Zalatoris’ short time on the PGA Tour has already yielded two top 10 finishes to go with his sixth place in the U.S. Open. The 24-year-old ball striking machine is very obviously going places and with confidence higher than ever, he could make a real run at the title at El Camaleon. An each way bet is in order at very nice odds of 33/1.
Brice Garnett - 125/1
We’ve already seen that El Camaleon is a course at which all manner of styles of golf can work. That is different from saying that anybody in the field this week can do enough to win. The layout just fits the eye of some players better than others.
Brice Garnett is one of those who tends to find his best golf when making the trip to Playa del Carmen. After missing the cut on his Mayakoba Classic debut, Garnett has event form of 6-7-DNP-25-5-11. For a player who has rarely been in the top 200 in the world (he is currently 267th) that is some serious course form.
The 37-year-old hasn’t always found golf easy this year but he ranks 29th on the PGA Tour for strokes gained putting since the new season began. If he gives himself enough scoring opportunities, Garnett’s dependable putting could propel him up the leaderboard and give him an outside chance of winning come Sunday so consider him for each way support at the massive price of 125/1 that is widely on offer.
Mayakoba Golf Classic Recent Winners
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2019||Brendon Todd||-20||1 Stroke|
|2018||Matt Kuchar||-22||1 Stroke|
|2017||Patton Kizzire||-19||1 Stroke|
|2016||Pat Perez||-21||2 Strokes|
|2014||Charley Hoffman||-17||1 Stroke|
|2013||Harris English||-21||4 Strokes|
|2010||Cameron Beckman||-15||2 Strokes|
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!).