Starting on Thursday, the PGA Tour will close out the 2020 calendar year with the Mayakoba Classic at El Camaleon Golf Club in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
The Mayakoba Classic is a full-field event with regular cut rules, top 65 and ties will play the weekend. Some of the top names in golf have traveled to Mexico and are in the field this week, including four players in the World Top 20 – Justin Thomas (No.3), Brooks Koepka (No.12), Daniel Berger (No.13), and Tony Finau (No.19).
Abraham Ancer and Carlos Ortiz, who both play under the Mexican flag, are also in the field and are in terrific form. This should be an extra special week for both players, as they try to win on home soil.
El Camaleon Golf Club (Par 71 -- 6,981 Yards)
El Camaleon is a Greg Norman-designed course that plays short based on PGA Tour standards. It is a pretty traditional layout, playing as a Par 71 with three par 5s and four par 3s. With it playing short but loaded with hazards, we are going to put a premium on Accuracy off the Tee and Strokes Gained: Approach. The last five winners are Brendon Todd, Matt Kuchar, Patton Kizzire, Pat Perez and Graeme McDowell, none of which are long off the tee.
Russell Henley over Viktor Hovland (-110)
Hovland is a terrific player, who has made 15 consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour but has had a tough time at the Mayakoba Classic in years prior. Hovland has missed the cut in both trips to this event, while Henley is 1-for-2, finishing T29 in 2019.
Henley has made 10 straight cuts himself and has four top-10s in his last eight starts. Henley is in great form and leads the field in SG: Approach over the last three months. In addition to being one of the most accurate off of the tee, Henley should be in great shape on this "second shot" golf course. I think both players have top-20 upside this week, but Henley is playing better, has better course history, and provides nice value as the underdog in this match-up.
Corey Conners over Rickie Fowler (-115)
Conners is coming off of back-to-back T10 finishes at The Masters and The RSM Classic. In his last four starts, he has three top-10s and four straight top-25s. Meanwhile, Fowler hasn't had a top-20 finish since early-August.
The Canadian is one of the best players Tee-to-Green in this week's field and is in the top-15 in accuracy off of the tee. That sets him up well for a strong week in Mexico. Fowler is solid off of the tee but has lost strokes on approach in three of his last five starts (-0.35 on average).
Fowler has enjoyed success in Mayakoba, finishing second in 2018 and T16 in 2019, but he's just not as sharp as he was in those seasons.
Gary Woodland over Marc Leishman (-105)
Woodland has not played a lot of golf recently, making just two starts since the U.S. Open in September. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open and The Masters but represents great value as an underdog vs. Leishman. The Australian had a solid showing at Augusta National but has been a disaster for the majority of 2020.
Leishman is one of the least accurate players in this field and his iron play ranks in the bottom-third as well. Woodland may not be in great form, but there's a pretty good chance that Leishman misses the cut. So as long as Woodland can get to the weekend, he should win this head-to-head.
Kevin Streelman over Brian Gay (-145)
Gay had a win in his last start (Bermuda Championship) but has lost strokes on approach in 12 consecutive tracked tournaments. In comparison to Streelman, it's not even close. Streelman is in the top-15 in SG: Approach and top-20 in the field in Accuracy off the Tee, so he has a clear statistical advantage over Gay.
Both players have had solid showings here in the past, with Streelman finishing T4 and T20 in two out of the last three years – the only holdout being a missed cut in 2020. Gay has finished T14, T41, T25, and T28 in his last four trips to this event but his recent form doesn't suggest he'll finish ahead of Streelman this week.
-- by Timmy Bits
Headline Photo Credit: GolfCity.com