PGA Tour Picks: Mayakoba Golf Classic Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
Quick recap of the WGC-HSBC Champions two weeks ago in China as the PGA Tour was off last week. World No. 2 Rory McIlroy closed the gap on top-ranked Brooks Koepka by beating Xander Schauffele in a playoff at Sheshan International. For McIlroy, named the PGA Tour Player of the Year for the 2018-19 season after winning the FedEx Cup, it was his fourth win in his last 15 starts and third World Golf Championships title (but first since 2015). McIlroy has now finished in the Top 10 in 16 of his last 21 starts on the PGA Tour.
Schauffele, the 2018 champion, trailed by two with four holes remaining, but birdied 15 and 18 to force extra holes. However, Schauffele's drive on the first playoff hole was awry, and he would end up missing a 12-foot birdie putt to tie. A Top-10 player in the world golf rankings has now won on the PGA Tour (all in Asia) in each of the last three weeks, the longest such streak since the 2017-18 season.
McIlroy was the +600 Bovada favorite entering the WGC-HSBC Champions, but we actually didn't love him there. Didn't get much right, honestly. Our winning pick was Patrick Reed at +2800, but he finished tied for eighth, seven behind McIlroy and Schauffele.
The biggest news in golf this week was Tiger Woods naming himself as one of his captain's picks for the upcoming Presidents Cup in Australia. This was the first time each captain - Ernie Els is for the International Team - was able to make four picks instead of two. Hard to argue against Tiger picking himself considering he just won in Japan and, frankly, his presence alone will raise the profile of the Presidents Cup. Woods has a Presidents Cup record of 24-15-1 and is one of five players to earn a perfect 5-0-0 record during a single event (2009). He's the second-ever playing captain (Hale Irwin in 1994) in the event's history.
Woods also chose Tony Finau, Reed and Gary Woodland. Els chose Jason Day of Australia, Adam Hadwin of Canada, Sungjae Im of Korea and Joaquin Niemann of Chile. Host country Australia has four players set to compete at Royal Melbourne.
The PGA Tour returns to North America this week but not the United States quite yet as it makes one of two stops on the 2019-20 schedule to Mexico. It's the Mayakoba Golf Classic at El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun. This tournament started as an opposite-field winter event in 2007 but became a full-fledged Tour event and moved to November in 2013. So now the winner gets the usual FedEx Cup points, a spot in the Masters, etc.
Still, no big stars this week following the Asia Swing, and we won't see any of them playing again until Tiger's Hero World Challenge. Most top Europeans will stay overseas until the New Year. El Camaleon isn't very long at a shade under 7,000 yards and plays to a par 71. Interesting venue as the course goes through a jungle, dense mangroves and also sand-lined oceanfront. Nine of the first 12 champions at Mayakoba have prevailed in their 30s or older, led by Fred Funk when he won the inaugural event at age 50. Americans have won all but once here.
Locally, the guy who will get all the love from the fans will be Mexico's Abraham Ancer. He had a very nice 2018-19 season and became the first Mexican to get into the world Top 50. He's also on Els' International Team, the first time a player from Mexico will compete in the Presidents Cup.
Golf Odds: Mayakoba Golf Classic Favorites
Last year, Matt Kuchar shot a final-round 69 to win for the first time since the 2014 RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, S.C. Kuchar finished a shot ahead of Danny Lee and his 22 under broke the tournament record. He's the +1600 Bovada favorite this week.
You may remember that Kuchar used a caddie from El Camaleon because his usual caddie was at a reunion. Kuchar made news for the wrong reasons by paying the temporary caddie just $5,000 when caddies generally get 5-10 percent of a winner's check. The publicity was so bad that Kuchar eventually did pony up another $45,000.
Jason Day is +1800 as is Viktor Hovland. Day hasn't played here in years, while Hovland, the 2018 U.S. Amateur champion, missed the cut last year in his debut. Tony Finau is +2000 and Billy Horschel +2200. Finau has a best result of seventh here, while Horschel was 21st last year.
Golf Odds: Mayakoba Golf Classic Picks
No golfer has won here twice so we won't be picking Kuchar to do so. For a Top 10, go with Emiliano Grillo (+325), who hasn't been worse than 15 th in three trips here, and Scott Piercy (+600), who has been fourth and sixth his past two trips. The winner is Russell Knox at +2500. He has been ninth, third and runner-up his past three visits.