Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's World Wide Technology Championship At Mayakoba Tips

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We move to Mexico this week, and to the Riviera Maya to be precise. El Camaleon has featured on the PGA Tour since 2007 and the 2021 renewal yet again sees an impressive enough $7.2 million prize fund through new tournament sponsor World Wide Technology, attracting what I consider to be the strongest ever field.

This event has certainly raised itself a notch or three since its move to a standalone date as part of the wraparound season. In 2021, World Number 7 Justin Thomas heads the entry list with Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, Abraham Ancer, Tyrrell Hatton, Billy Horschel, Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Reed, Matt Fitzpatrick, Joaquin Niemann, Matthew Wolff, Will Zalatoris and defending champion Viktor Hovland all playing in Mexico from within the OWGR top 40.

Throw in Shane Lowry, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari and Danny Willett from a European angle and this is a great field.

Before we go into the detail surrounding the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System, Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,000 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

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Course Guide: El Camaleon at Mayakoba Resort is a sub-7,000 yard, 36/35 format, Par 71 track in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The course runs through dense tropical jungle, mangrove forests and oceanfront so players who miss fairways can be in serious trouble. Green sizes are large at an average of 7,000 sq.ft.

The course features some intense bunkering and the green complexes are Sea Isle Paspalum – these are similar to both those played at Coco Beach Golf and Country Club (Puerto Rico Open) and the Corales Golf Club (Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship). Paspalum green complexes also featured at TPC Kuala Lumpur for the CIMB Classic held between 2013 and 2017.

El Camaleon GC, Playa Del Carmon, Mexico: Designer: Greg Norman, 2006; Course Type: Coastal, Resort; Par: 71; Length: 7,017 yards; Water Hazards: A series of canals run through entire property, bordering the majority of holes; Fairways: Sea Isle 1 Paspalum; Rough: Sea Isle 1 Paspalum, 2″; Greens: 7,000 sq.ft average Sea Isle 1 Paspalum; Stimpmeter: 11ft. Course Scoring Average 2012: 71.65 (+0.65), Difficulty Rank 17 of 49 courses. 2013: 70.02 (-0.98), Difficulty Rank 39 of 43 courses. 2014: 69.95 (-1.05), Difficulty Rank 38 of 52. 2015: 70.02 (-0.98), Difficulty Rank 35 of 50. 2016: 69.61 (-1.39), Difficulty Rank 41 of 50 courses. 2017: 70.32 (-0.67), Difficultly Rank 33 of 51 courses. 2018: 69.25 (-1.75), Difficulty Rank 39 of 49 courses. 2019: 70.09 (-0.91), Difficulty Rank 21 of 41 courses. 2020: 69.77 (-1.23), Difficulty Rank 39 of 51 courses.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes other Greg Norman designs include:

  • TPC San Antonio – 2009 – 2021 Valero Texas Open
  • TPC at Sugarloaf – 1997 – 2008 AT&T Classic
  • Earth Course – DP World Tour Championship (European Tour)

Course Overview: El Camaleon has been transformed in recent years from a technical scoring course to a set-up where low scoring has become the norm. Maybe this change has been as a result of the move in the PGA Tour schedule from February to November, but in reality this Greg Norman design plays pretty much as easily as conditions dictate.

2013 saw Harris English take advantage of incredibly soft conditions and virtually no rough to shoot a (then) tournament record -21/263, with the course playing an average of 1.5 strokes per round easier than 2012.

2014 saw Charley Hoffman tame a course that played faster and firmer across the opening 36 holes. However, wind and rain across Saturday’s play softened the track allowing the Nevada man to shoot an excellent final 36-hole total of -9/133 to win by a single shot from ball-striker Shawn Stefani.

2015 saw G-Mac shoot an impressive 28 birdies (38% Birdie Conversion) on a very soft course. In the process Graeme claimed his first PGA Tour title for over 2 years, beating Jason Bohn and Russell Knox in a play-off.

No discernable wind and graduated rough saw Pat Perez take the course apart in 2016 where he equalled English’s tournament best -21/ 263 winning score and beat Gary Woodland by 2 shots and late charging course specialist Russell Knox by 3 shots.

Despite significant wind across the weekend in 2017, Patton Kizzire still defeated Rickie Fowler with a -19/265 total to capture his maiden PGA Tour title. 2018 victor Matt Kuchar took advantage of low winds and fast fairway conditions (greens here are always watered), to shoot a tournament record -22/262. And across both 2019 and 2020 a soft golf course yielded birdies-galore, with -20/264 the winning total for both Todd and Hovland.

This 36/35 set-up always plays easier on the outward nine which features 2 of the 3 par-5s – indeed the 3rd through to the 8th holes often all play under par. Conversely the closing stretch from the 14th onwards tests the mettle of the leaders come Sunday.

El Camaleon is a short set-up where ball-striking has been critical across November renewals of this tournament. With a predominant northerly breeze and two sets of short par-4s and par-5s in play, El Camaleon never features in the longest driving distance charts. Instead consistent driving and approach play is rewarded with scoring opportunities on green complexes that are soft, slow and ranked amongst the easiest on Tour for Putting Average.

The course was within the top 8 for Par Breaker percentage over recent renewals and with three of the par-3s measuring 116 yards (4th), 151 yards (8th) and 155 yards (15th) respectively, they have been the easiest set of par-3s on Tour for over half a decade. Indeed it’s not often that you see winners like English, McDowell, Perez, Kizzire, Kuchar, Todd and Hovland shoot -9, -5, -4, -4, -4, -7 and -2 respectively across the par-3s on their way to collecting the trophy.

mayakoba tips

Winners: 2020: Viktor Hovland (-20); 2019: Brendon Todd (-20); 2018: Matt Kuchar (-22); 2017: Patton Kizzire (-19); 2016: Pat Perez (-21); 2015: Graeme McDowell (-18); 2014: Charley Hoffman (-17); 2013: Harris English (-21); 2012: John Huh (-13); 2011: Johnson Wagner (-17); 2010: Cameron Beckman (-15).

Cut Line: 2020: -1; 2019: -1; 2018: -4; 2017: -1; 2016: -2; 2015: -2; 2014: -3; 2013: -1.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2020: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -13; Round 3 -16; Round 4 -20.
  • 2019: Round 1 -9; Round 2 -13; Round 3 -17; Round 4 -20.
  • 2018: Round 1 -7; Round 2: -14; Round 3 -20; Round 4: -22.

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Aaron Wise, Justin Thomas, Abraham Ancer, Russell Knox, Viktor Hovland, Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Emiliano Grillo, Pat Perez and Luke List.

Winners & Prices: 2020: Hovland 22/1; 2019: Todd 110/1; 2018: Kuchar 60/1; 2017: Kizzire 70/1; 2016: Perez 125/1; 2015: McDowell 33/1; 2014: Hoffman 60/1; 2013: English 25/1; 2012: Huh 35/1; 2011: Wagner 150/1; 2010: Beckman 100/1. Past 8 Renewals Average: 63/1; Overall Average: 71/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2020: Thursday: Overcast, with a high of 82. Wind E 8-16 mph, with gusts to 20 mph. Preferred lies in closely mown areas were in effect. Friday: Scattered showers, with a high of 81. Wind E/SE 7-15 mph. Preferred lies in closely mown areas were in effect. Saturday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 82. Wind E/ESE 4-8 mph, with gusts to 10 mph. Sunday: Due to inclement weather, the final round was suspended from 8:44 a.m. until 10:55 a.m. Preferred lies in closely mown areas were in effect. Overcast with a high of 82. Wind S 6-12 mph.
  • 2019: Thursday: Rain and thunderstorms prevented any play. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 82. Wind NNW at 5-10 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 80. Wind NNW 10-15 mph, with gusts to 20 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 80. Wind NNW 7-13 mph. Monday: Sunny. High of 72. Wind NNW 5-10 mph.
  • 2018: Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 85. Wind E 6-12 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 86. Wind ENE 5-10 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 85. Wind ENE 7-14 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 85. Wind E 7-14 mph.
  • 2017: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with spotty afternoon showers. High of 86. Wind NNW 10-15 mph, with gusts to 20 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 84. Wind NNE 7-14 mph, with gusts to 20 mph. Saturday: Due to heavy overnight and morning showers, play did not resume until 1:40 p.m. Sunday: With no re-pairing between rounds, final-round tee times were between 10:40 a.m. and 12:50 p.m. Cloudy, with a high of 85. Wind ENE 7-15 mph, with gusts to 32 mph.
  • 2016: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 85. Wind SNE 8-14 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 86. Wind ESE 10-18 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 86. Wind E 5-10 mph. Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 86. Wind E 8-14 mph.
  • 2015: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with afternoon showers. High of 86 degrees. Wind ENE 10-15 mph. Friday. Mostly cloudy, with a high of 84 degrees. Wind E 8-14 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy, with highs in the upper 80s. Wind ENE 10-20 mph. Sunday: Cloudy, with heavy rains off and on throughout the day. High of 86 degrees, with ENE wind at 10-15 mph. Due to darkness, round four was suspended for the day at 5:57 p.m. Monday: The final round was again suspended, due to rain, for 15 minutes, from 7:58 a.m. until 8:13 a.m.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Playa Del Carmen, Mexico is here.

We’re dealing with the warm, tropical part of Mexico this week, so expect 30 degree Celsius conditions across the opening 54 holes, dropping to 27 degrees Celsius on Sunday. Light breezes across all 4 days could be the green light for a tournament low winning score and a lack of recent rain could see ideal conditions of faster than normal, running fairways and soft, watered Paspalum greens.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the BMW PGA Championship which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players’ rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Viktor Hovland; 2) Jhonattan Vegas; 3) Mito Pereira; 4) Tony Finau; 5) Joseph Bramlett; 6) Billy Horschel / Ryan Palmer; 8) Gary Woodland; 9) Brooks Koepka / Maverick McNealy; 11) Keith Mitchell / Taylor Pendrith; 13) Aaron Wise; 14) Matt Fitzpatrick / Sergio Garcia; 16) Emiliano Grillo; 17) Patrick Rodgers; 18) Justin Thomas; 19) Abraham Ancer / Matt Jones / Will Zalatoris; 22) Luke List; 23) Anirban Lahiri; 24) Rickie Fowler; 25) Brendan Steele.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Russell Henley; 2) Mito Pereira; 3) Christiaan Bezuidenhout / Talor Gooch; 5) Henrik Stenson; 6) C.T. Pan / Justin Thomas; 8) Tom Hoge; 9) Tony Finau / Billy Horschel / Jimmy Walker; 12) Justin Rose / Jhonattan Vegas; 14) Matthew Wolff; 15) Carlos Ortiz; 16) Shane Lowry; 17) Peter Malnati / Adam Schenk / Will Zalatoris; 20) Chris Kirk; 21) Henrik Norlander / Chez Reavie; 23) Joel Dahmen; 24) Luke List / Harold Varner III.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Talor Gooch; 2) Rory Sabbatini; 3) Justin Thomas; 4) Aaron Wise; 5) Matt Jones; 6) Matthew Wolff; 7) Tony Finau / Henrik Norlander; 9) Matt Kuchar / Danny Willett; 11) Brian Gay / Charles Howell III / Chris Kirk / Martin Laird; 15) Scott Piercy; 16) Tyrrell Hatton / Stephan Jaeger; 18) Alex Noren; 19) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Russell Henley / Keith Mitchell; 22) Jhonattan Vegas; 23) Rickie Fowler; 34) Adam Hadwin; 25) Jonas Blixt / Luke Donald.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Russell Henley / Justin Thomas; 3) Mito Pereira; 4) Talor Gooch; 5) Tony Finau / Aaron Wise; 7) Jhonattan Vegas; 8) Billy Horschel; 9) Matthew Wolff; 10) Henrik Stenson; 11) Matt Fitzpatrick; 12) C.T. Pan; 13) Matt Jones / Martin Laird / Henrik Norlander; 16) Harold Varner III; 17) Tom Hoge / Luke List / Maverick McNealy; 20) Christiaan Bezuidenhout / Chris Kirk; 22) Shane Lowry / Gary Woodland; 24) Tyler Duncan / Sergio Garcia / Justin Rose.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Christiaan Bezuidenhout ; 2) Nate Lashley; 3) C.T. Pan; 4) Brendon Todd; 5) Adam Long / Shane Lowry; 7) Matt Fitzpatrick; 8) Matthew Wolff; 9) Michael Thompson / Harold Varner III; 11) Patrick Rodgers; 12) Alex Noren / Scottie Scheffler; 14) Cameron Tringale; 15) Taylor Pendrith; 16) Adam Hadwin; 17) Troy Merritt / Adam Schenk / Nick Watney; 20) Sung Kang; 21) Trey Mullinax; 22) Joaquin Niemann / Aaron Wise; 24) Jhonattan Vegas; 25) Matt Kuchar / Kevin Streelman.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 2) Talor Gooch; 3) C.T. Pan; 4) Matthew Wolff; 5) Matt Fitzpatrick; 6) Aaron Wise; 7) Jhonattan Vegas; 8) Justin Thomas; 9) Harold Varner III; 10) Billy Horschel; 11) Russell Henley / Nate Lashley; 13) Chris Kirk / Mito Pereira; 15) Shane Lowry; 16) Patrick Rodgers; 17) Rickie Fowler / Henrik Stenson / Gary Woodland; 20) Martin Laird; 21) Maverick McNealy / Justin Rose; 23) Tyler Duncan / Matt Jones; 25) Alex Noren.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of winners here at El Camaleon since 2013 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2020, Viktor Hovland (-20). 300 yards (8th), 64.3% fairways (13th), 84.7% greens in regulation (1st), 45.5% scrambling (70th), 1.62 putts per GIR (10th).
  • 2019, Brendon Todd (-20). 272 yards (79th), 62.5% fairways (25th), 79.2% greens in regulation (3rd), 80.0% scrambling (4th), 1.61 putts per GIR (8th).
  • 2018, Matt Kuchar (-22). 290 yards (28th), 80.4% fairways (3rd), 79.2% greens in regulation (9th), 80.0% scrambling (5th), 1.70 putts per GIR (41st).
  • 2017, Patton Kizzire (-19). 289 yards (21st), 62.5% fairways (52nd), 75.0% greens in regulation (7th), 72.2 % scrambling (13th), 1.61 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2016, Pat Perez (-21). 292 yards (19th), 64.3% fairways (49th), 76.4% greens in regulation (11th), 76.5 % scrambling (9th), 1.60 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • 2015, Graeme McDowell (-18). 273 yards (56th), 73.2% fairways (16th), 70.8% greens in regulation (30th), 71.4 % scrambling (18th), 1.57 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2014, Charley Hoffman (-17). 295 yards (5th), 64.3% fairways (36th), 77.8% greens in regulation (4th), 68.8 % scrambling (26th), 1.64 putts per GIR (12th).
  • 2013, Harris English (-21). 293 yards (10th), 58.9% fairways (61st), 76.4% greens in regulation (10th), 70.6% scrambling (18th), 1.58 putts per GIR (1st).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 28th, Driving Accuracy: 32nd, Greens in Regulation: 9th, Scrambling: 20th, Putting Average 10th.

So let’s take a view from players as to how El Camaleon sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Viktor Hovland (2020): “Maybe a little bit similar to Puerto Rico. I think it’s obviously it’s hot and it’s humid, not as windy as Puerto Rico. Yeah, it’s a very narrow golf course and greens are soft. I feel like that sets up well for me. If I’m hitting good shots, I can hit the ball close and I’m not going to miss that many fairways.

The Paspalum greens are really slow compared to what we normally play because you really can’t get them any quicker than 10 on the stimpmeter, so your tendency is to overread some putts and hit them a little short. I think you’ve just got to get your mind into just hitting it a little bit firmer and not worry about the putt coming back so much.”

Brendon Todd (2019): “I proved in Bermuda that I can kind of get into that mentality where I can go low again, and I basically started the day and said let’s try and birdie every hole, I know it’s going to be soft and there’s going to be birdies out there. So I was able to pick up a few on the front nine and play well coming in. The fairways are so soft in-places that is they’ve moved a couple of the tees up so we could hit the ball into a spot on the fairway that was a little bit drier. So there was some holes playing a little bit shorter, like five and nine, and I was able to take advantage of a couple of those. But the way I’m playing with my irons in, I felt like the only way I was going to make a bogey was to miss a fairway, lose a golf ball, and that’s what happened. But I’m sure it’s going to happen to most guys this week. I’m just happy I hit some good shots after that and gave myself chances to make birdies coming in.

Matt Kuchar (2018): “I’m pleased with my game. I felt like I played really well last week in Vegas, but just struggled to get the ball in the hole, struggled to execute on a few occasions. My couple practice rounds Tuesday, Wednesday felt really good, driving the ball well, which is really critical here. If you’re not driving it well, this course is extremely hard. If you’re driving it well, you can make some birdies, which I was able to do today. The rough is penalizing, of course the hazards, the mangroves, the difficult things you can get into are challenging. But if you drive it well, you have some opportunities to make some birdies, and I drove it well and took advantage of the opportunities when I can.”

Patton Kizzire (2017): “I have been playing well recently. I missed a few fairways, but they were controlled misses. For the main, I missed those fairways. I was keeping it on the correct side, trying to give myself angles into the pins. Unfortunately on 18 I thought I hit a good one, but the wind held it in the bunker. I had good misses, that’s the key out here and then taking advantage of the opportunity holes.

Charley Hoffman: “Usually the last few years I played here it’s been windy, so I’m a little more familiar with the wind than the calm of the first two days, they were very calm and then yesterday, obviously, with the rain and a little bit of wind, and today was, I would say, back to sort of normal weather for here at the golf tournament. To be honest with you, there’s not a ton of leaderboards out there. I knew there was some birdie holes coming in and I wasn’t going to shoot for middle of the greens and let someone else beat me. I wanted to win the golf tournament and I was able to do that.

Jason Bohn: “I think what I like about this layout, obviously length is always an advantage. But here it’s about positioning yourself in the middle of the fairway or right side of the fairway or trying to attack some of these flags. That’s one of my strengths is just getting the ball in play. If I can get my putter hot, we’ll see what happens.

John Huh: “Well, I kind of give the example, you know, my ball flies a little higher than a normal player, I mean, average on tour. I proved that that was wrong, but obviously you got to keep your ball on the fairway. If you’re not it’s pretty much you’re in the hazard, so I mean, it’s difficult to play with the wind, but we’re in the PGA Tour, highest on the tour, and I don’t think there is any issue playing this golf course because of the wind. If it blows more than 30 miles, yeah, it is difficult. But if it is just a normal wind, you know, the players are capable to shoot low score.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 10 Mayakoba winners:

  • 2020 – Viktor Hovland: Round 1: 5th, Round 2: 8th, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2019 – Brendon Todd: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2018 – Matt Kuchar: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2017 – Patton Kizzire: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2016 – Pat Perez: Round 1: 20th, Round 2: 11th, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2015 – Graeme McDowell: Round 1: 10th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2014 – Charley Hoffman: Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 9th, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2013 – Harris English: Round 1: 17th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2012 – John Huh: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 8th, Round 3: 13th.
  • 2011 – Johnson Wagner: Round 1: 23rd, Round 2: 5th, Round 3: 1st.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 10 Mayakoba winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2020 – Viktor Hovland: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 7 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2019 – Brendon Todd: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2018 – Matt Kuchar: Round 1: level, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: 4 ahead.
  • 2017 – Patton Kizzire: Round 1: 2 ahead, Round 2: level, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2016 – Pat Perez: Round 1: 5 back, Round 2: 5 back, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2015 – Graeme McDowell: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2014 – Charley Hoffman: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2013 – Harris English: Round 1: 5 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2012 – John Huh: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 7 back.
  • 2011 – Johnson Wagner: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 1 ahead.

Incoming form of winners since 2013:

  • Viktor Hovland: 15th Houston/47th ZOZO/12th CJ Cup/13th US Open.
  • Brendon Todd: 1st Bermuda/28th Houston/MC Shiners/MC Safeway.
  • Matt Kuchar: 57th Shriners/28th Dunhill Links/43rd Dell Tech/60th Northern Trust.
  • Patton Kizzire: 4th Shriners/10th Sanderson/MC Safeway /MC Dell Tech.
  • Pat Perez: 7th Shriners/33rd CIMB.
  • Graeme McDowell: 37th Turkey/24th Hong Kong/30th British Masters/19th Dunhill Links.
  • Charley Hoffman: 35th Sanderson/MC McGladrey/MC Shriners/53rd BMW.
  • Harris English: 27th McGladrey/7th CIMB/40th Shriners/50th BMW.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave (where applicable) and winning score since 2013. For full first round leader stats click here.

  • 2020 – Knox – PM Wave -6/65 70/1
  • 2019 – D Lee – AM Wave -9/62 – 55/1
  • 2018 – Bozzelli, Hickok, Kuchar – 2 AM / 1 PM wave split -7 64 – 250/1, 125/1, 55/1
  • 2017 – Kizzire – AM Wave -9/62 – 66/1
  • 2016 – Kirk – PM Wave -8/63 – 45/1
  • 2015 – Baddeley, Fathauer, Leonard, Stefani – All AM wave -6/65.
  • 2014 – Berger, Finau, Garrigus, MacKenzie, Swafford, Wheatcroft – All AM Wave -6/65.
  • 2013 – Karlsson – PM Wave -8/63.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of Paspalum PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 2 – Viktor Hovland, Graeme McDowell, Ryan Moore, Pat Perez, Justin Thomas.
  • 1 – Joel Dahmen, Tony Finau, Brice Garnett, Brian Gay, Emiliano Grillo, Charley Hoffman, John Huh, Patton Kizzire, Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter, Hudson Swafford, Brendon Todd, Martin Trainer.

Since  a change to a November slot in the PGA Tour calendar, soft conditions have been the norm here at El Camaleon.

In 2013 Harris English and 2014 Charley Hoffman (in the final round) overpowered the course. However stronger winds in 2015 with similar soft conditions allowed wind specialists Russell Knox and Graeme McDowell the freedom to compete with the longer hitters, as well as Jason Bohn who was a 25/1 shot pre-event.

2016 saw Pat Perez, in only his 3rd appearance coming off a 5 month break for a shoulder injury, pocket only his 2nd PGA Tour win of a long career, defeating 54-hole leader Gary Woodland in a tournament blessed by tranquil conditions and a little cut in the turf.

2017 saw Patton Kizzire, who was in one of his hot streaks, take his maiden PGA Tour title and 2018 saw Matt Kuchar who ranked 3rd in the embryonic PGA Tour statistics for Ball Striking take his first PGA Tour title for 4 and a half years here with a tournament record.

2019 saw Brendon Todd win back-to-back at coastal courses namely the Bermuda Championship and here in Mexico. In Bermuda he had ranked 6th for Total Accuracy and 3rd for Putting Average (Putts per GIR).

Last year Viktor Hovland captured his 2nd PGA Tour title of 2020 here at 22/1, in doing so, landing a Paspalum green double, after he had won the Puerto Rico Open in February. Viktor had ranked 4th for Ball Striking on his previous outing in Houston.

My selections are as follows:

Joaquin Niemann 1.5pts EW 50/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfair Sportsbook

On a shot-makers course, Joaquin Niemann makes loads of sense to me this week.

Joaquin is the sort who actually prefers shorter courses on the PGA Tour – a relative rarity when it comes to elite of world golf. Yes he’s delivered on the coast, on the 7,600 yards of the Plantation Course at Kapalua – 5th (2020) 2nd (2021) – but that tends to be a rarity and remember that is a Par 73.

5th (2018) and 1st (2019) at Old White TPC, which is a 7,300 yard, Par 70; 5th (2019) and 2nd (2021) at Detroit Golf Club which is a short 7,370 yard, Par 72; the current OWGR Number 30 has also finished 2nd (2021) at Waialae Country Club, 5th (2020) at Harbour Town and 5th at TPC River Highlands, which are all short tests of golf on the PGA Tour. Joaquin seems more TPC Sawgrass than Augusta National when it comes to his ideal set-up.

So El Camaleon should suit the 22 year old, who now is unbelievably into his 5th season on the PGA Tour. The sort who can club down on shorter tests, Joaquin is undoubtedly a streaky scorer who can take advantage of courses where high Greens in Regulation are required for victory. He won the Greenbrier at -21/259, and so far in 2021 he’s shot -25/267 when losing in a play off at Kapalua, -20/260 when finishing a shot back of Kevin Na at the coastal Waialae, and -18/ 270 when losing again in a play off to Cameron Davis in Detroit. The lack of wind this week on the Caribbean coastline should be right up his street.

An opening -6/64 around the claustrohphic Narashino Country Club highlighted a player who’s starting to find his game again, especially as he ranked 7th for Greens in Regulation across the week in Japan – that’s his best Greens in Regulation performance since the PGA Championship way back in May. Niemann shot 66/70/66 to be 2nd, 8th and 11th after Rounds 1,2 and 3 here 12 months ago, before finishing 23rd. RESULT: T5

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Maverick McNealy 1.5pts EW 50/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

Maverick McNealy was one I backed at the Fortinet Championship last month and he was pretty much in the mix the whole way, scoring another runner-up position for me in 2021. He’s on a run of 9 top-30 finishes from his last 12 appearances with 20th at Colonial, 21st in Detroit, 18th at TPC Deere Run, 16th at TPC Twin Cities, 18th at Old Greenwood, 27th at Liberty National, 2nd at Silverado and 25th last time out at Narashino. To say he’s been there or thereabouts would be very apt.

But a look at McNealy’s PGA Tour best finishes highlights a player who is very specialised. His recent 2nd at Silverado came on a Par 72 at 7,123 yards. 5th (2020) and 2nd (2021) at Pebble Beach (course rota of 1 Par 71 and 2 Par 72s at circa 7,100 yards), 8th (2020) at Detroit Golf Club (Par 72 at 7,320 yards), 7th (2020) at Old Greenwood (Par 71 at 7,390 yards at altitude) and 4th (2021) at Harbour Town (Par 71 7,121 yards). 12th here last year at El Camaleon also came on a Par 71 at 7,017 yards. So it’s short formats all the way for Maverick.

His last outing in Japan was also interesting as his 25th finish came with a final round -5/65. He ranked 7th on the week for Greens in Regulation – his best performance in that category since his runner-up finish in February at Pebble Beach. Undoubtedly in the mix right now for a maiden PGA Tour title and closed here 12 months ago with a -8/63 (Saturday) and -5/66 (Sunday), which was second for weekend scoring behind winner Viktor Hovland. RESULT: T11

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Russell Henley 1.5pts EW 50/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfair Sportsbook

Next up is Russell Henley who in the embryonic PGA Tour stats across this Fall ranks 1st for Driving Accuracy, 1st for Greens in Regulation, 1st for Strokes Gained on Approach, 4th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 9th for Birdie Average. Consecutive top-25 finishes across TPC Summerlin and The Summit Club were a strong season start for Russell, whose record by the coast is far stronger than in the desert of the western United States.

1st (2013) at Waialae Country Club sits alongside an additional 3 top-17 finishes on Honolulu. 3rd (2015) at Kapalua, 6th (2013) and 9th (2021) at Harbour Town, 4th (2014), 5th (2015) and 10th (2016) at Sea Island. You can also add 12th at the 2015 PGA Championship played at Whistling Straits and 13th at this year’s U.S. Open hosted at Torrey Pines to Henley’s list of coastal achievements.

Undoubtedly has the tee-to-green game currently to strategise his way around El Camaleon, a course which he should thrive upon. And for the first time in 4 attempts he arrives both fresh (only his 3rd outing this season) and in great nick, so I expect him to far exceed his 29th place finish here on course debut back in 2018. RESULT: T56

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Seamus Power 1pt EW 55/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfair Sportsbook

Listeners of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast will be more than aware that Seamus Power is another player who specialises in low-scoring golf tournaments and he can play nicely by the coast as well.

2021 has undoubtedly been Seamus’ breakout year in professional golf. 3 top-10s and 2 top-20s in consecutive PGA Tour May – July outings preceded Power’s maiden victory at the Barbasol Championship where a -21/267 total saw him defeat J.T. Poston in a play-off. For reference, that run of results saw Waterford’s finest jump from 437th to 113th in the Official World Golf Rankings and he can look forward to a trip to Maui to kick-off his 2022 campaign at the winners-only event.

But Seamus doesn’t appear to be dining out on his recent success. 21st at the Shriners Open and 12th last week at the Bermuda Championship was a decent start to his 2021/22 season campaign, and I’ve been very impressed by his Tee to Green game. 8th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green at TPC Summerlin, where he also ranked 12th for Total Accuracy and 17th for Greens in Regulation, last week saw him rank 1st for Total Driving, 8th for Total Accuracy and 12th for Greens in Regulation.

Seamus also has some understated correlating coastal course form that I like the look of. 7th (2016) and 5th (2018) at the Corales Championship played on Paspalum greens in the Dominican Republic, Power also finished 6th at Harbour Town in 2019 – a course where previous champions here going back to John Huh in 2012 have all had success. It’s also noticeable that Seamus finished 28th here on course debut back in 2016, in only his 4th PGA Tour start. In an El Camaleon renewal which featured very little wind, the Irishman shot 68-66-64 to start Sunday in 4th spot. If in the same situation this week, I’d expect a far more mature closing round. RESULT: T11

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Adam Hadwin 1pt EW 100/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfair Sportsbook

It’s been feast or famine for Adam Hadwin across his 5 appearances at El Camaleon with missed cuts across 2014, 2015 and 2020, 10th in 2016, and 10th in 2018.

Blustery, windy conditions have never been Adam’s forte and so it proved last week in Bermuda where the Canadian actually did well to make the cut after an opening +3/74 in the worst of the Thursday morning wind. When the wind dissipated on Friday he fired a -5/66. Notably both top 10s here at El Camaleon were across 2 years where the wind laid down, so I’m going to show patience with the World Number 125.

A resort course specialist who simply loves to shoot low scores, Adam was 6th at the Shriners Open last month with a -18/266 total. And despite 36 holes in tough conditions last week in Bermuda, Hadwin ranked 4th for Total Accuracy, 12th for Ball Striking and 1st for Greens in Regulation – impressive statistics from a player renowned for his putting prowess. And across a 4 week span when Sungjae Im, Hideki Matsuyama and Lucas Herbert have won PGA Tour titles, it won’t have gone unnoticed by Hadwin, who has represented the International Team in both the 2017 and 2019 President’s Cups, that he needs to continue playing the quality of golf that has seen him finish 6th (3M Open), 10th (Wyndham Championship) and 6th (Shriners Open) across his last 8 appearances. RESULT: T56

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James Hahn 0.5pt EW 200/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfair Sportsbook

James Hahn is often a player to follow when hitting the ball well.

Never the most consistent, James over the years has landed huge victories at Riviera Country Club (2015) and Quail Hollow (2016), but he’s also been the sort to shoot low totals and go well on Paspalum greens. 6th (2015) and 9th (2016) at TPC Kuala Lumpur at the CIMB Classic, James was also 6th at Corales Golf Club in 2020. So here’s a guy who can perform on these types of greens, and on top of the coastal top 6 in the Dominican Republic last year, Hahn was 3rd at Pebble Beach in 2013 and 2nd at Waialae Country Club in 2018. A look at the winner’s list here with the likes of Wagner, English, McDowell, Perez, Kizzire, Kuchar and Todd undoubtedly translates beautifully to top finishes at the Waialae-hosted Sony Open.

15th last time out at the Narashino hosted ZOZO Championship was a welcome return to form, and I noted it on the basis he was one of the straightest drivers all week and was excellent with his approach play ranking 7th for Greens in Regulation. He was in a similar vein of ball-striking form when he arrived here in 2018 and semi-contended with opening rounds of 66-67 placing him 14th going into the weekend – he eventually finished 29th. RESULT: T27

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:05GMT 1.11.21 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.