OHL Mayakoba Classic
El Camaleon Golf Club
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Yards: 6,987 as per the scorecard
Par: 71 (36-35)
Greens: Sea Isle Paspalum; over 7,000 square feet on average.
Rough: Sea Isle Paspalum at 1.5”
Water Hazards: Canals everywhere throughout the course
Course Architects: Greg Norman (2006)
Winner’s Share: $1,080,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: It took John Huh eight holes and eight pars to see off Robert Allenby in February of last year.
Dates: November 14-17
Notes: Stroke play; Top 70 and ties advance to the weekend
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA is now five from five as 2013-14 begins. Last week at The McGladrey Classic, American Chris Kirk joined Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore and Dustin Johnson as the winners this year. #USA
There were 12, first-time winners in the 2013 season and just six players with multiple victories (Woods, Mickelson, Kuchar, Snedeker, Scott and Stenson. In five events to kick of 2013-14, there have been no repeat winners (no surprise) and only one, first-time winner, Jimmy Walker, at Frys.com.
This is the seventh edition of the OHL Mayakoba Classic.
Here are the six winners. Let’s see if you can spot a common thread between them:
2007: Fred Funk – 266 (par 70)
2008: Brian Gay – 264 (par 70)
2009: Mark Wilson – 267 (par 70)
2010: Cameron Beckman – 269 (par 71)
2011: Johnson Wagner – 267 (par 71)
2012: John Huh – 271 (par 71)
Fred Funk: 193rd in driving distance, second in driving accuracy, 40th in total putting in 2007 season.
Brian Gay: 196th in driving distance, 17th in driving accuracy, 11th in total putting in the 2008 season.
Mark Wilson: 118th in driving distance, 28th in driving accuracy, 57th in total putting in the 2009 season.
Cameron Beckman: 115th in driving distance, 96th in driving accuracy, 121st in total putting in the 2010 season.
Johnson Wagner: 160th in driving distance, 23rd in driving accuracy, 73rd in total putting in the 2011 season.
John Huh: 113th in driving distance, 11th in driving accuracy, 34th in total putting.
They are all in the field this week.
In six events, three have ended in playoffs.
John Huh is the only rookie to lift the trophy.
Funk, Wagner and Huh won in their first time on this course.
Gay, Beckman and Wilson had played here previously.
The best finish for a defending champion is T12, Cameron Beckman in 2011.
John Huh closed with 63 and Robert Allenby 65 (double bogey on the 72nd hole) last year.
Inside the Ropes
Another week on TOUR, another week that birdies will be needed to contend and win as El Camaleon is the destination this week on the Caribbean Sea. The Chameleon traverses through and around jungle, mangroves and skirts up against the sea as well. There’s water everywhere so accurate players, as highlighted above, have shown to be in favor on this course over the first six years. The first three editions this course played par 70 but it was stretched to par 71 with the 2010 edition and has remained par 71 since.
Mayakoba is the host of this event and this is the first time that they have hosted the tournament outside February so we’ll see how this time of year affects the weather. The Greg Norman design, since moving to par 71, has rated No. 30, No. 27 and No. 17 last year. John Huh fired a final round 63 to make the playoff at 13-under. Remember, 54-hole leader Daniel Summerhays was 12-under before his final round 73.
With large greens, similar to Seaside last week, players who knock it anywhere near the fairway will have solid chances to score because of said greens and rough that grows only 1.5 inches. Water is the key deterrent this week and multiple canals and mangroves protect the otherwise short and easy track. Once on the greens, Sea Isle Paspalum running around 11 on the Stimpmeter, should allow players to be aggressive in getting putts to the hole. Sounds like another putting contest again this week but guys who bang fairways and greens will also have a say this week. Guys who spray it better keep it out of the jungle, mangroves and canals!
Harris English: The man who enjoys tight courses because they keep his attention should feel at home this week with plenty of danger to avoid off the tees. English can stripe irons and can really putt it as well as he proved in his first victory last season at TPC Southwind in Memphis. He made 21 of 26 cuts last season and has already racked up a T7 overseas at the CIMB. Oh, he went to Georgia as well! It’s his first travels to Mexico and this event but his pedigree will be plenty to carry him this week.
Tim Clark: Even though it’s his first time in Mexico, I cannot ignore his closing-round 62 last weekend at The McGladrey. He did EVERYTHING but win the tournament as he rolled in 20 birdies and finished second in fairways and greens. He was also third in putts per GIR. That’s the EXACT recipe for winning this week at Mayakoba. Clark now has 12 runner-up finishes and has had one each of the last 11 years in addition to his PLAYERS championship.
Brian Gay: The 2008 champion also has a T5 and T20 in five trips south of the border and is coming off T4 last week in St. Simons Island. Some will be chased away by his big GIR number but, similar to last week, the greens at El Camaleon are quite large on average so I don’t see this being as issue. His course knowledge, current form (20 birdies as well last week) and hot putter makes for a tasty combination this week.
Brendon Todd: I’m not sure what’s in the water in Athens but here’s another former UGA Bulldog in a rich vein of form. He’s been in the preview column in all three starts in 2013-14 and his finishes of T26, T12 and T16 have not sent me running for the exits. He’s seen the course once before in 2009 but registered a MC. I’M STILL NOT DETERRED!
J.J. Henry: He’s three-for-three to start the new season and opened with T16 at Frys.com and T15 in Las Vegas before T48 last week in Georgia. Henry is known for his ball-striking off the tee and from the fairway and the formula has worked for him at Mayakoba. He’s finished in the top 10 twice in four starts and also has a T19 to show for his efforts. Only two of his 16 rounds here have been over par.
Ryan Moore: Last time Moore was involved he was beating Gary Woodland in a playoff at the CIMB in Malaysia. Now that his jet lag is gone, Moore is another player that sets up great on this course as his strengths are driving the golf ball and holing putts. He was very solid in his backyard with T9 at the Shriners the week before his win. He’s known to play well in bunches so point leaving him out.
Brian Harman: Another ‘Dawg who played well last week, Harman, I believe, is ready to take the next step here in season No. 3. He already banged two top 10s to start things off on the right foot and he posted a 65 in round three last year in his first tournament at Mayakoba. He was T10 last week and had two doubles on the card. Shhhhhhhhhhhh.
Daniel Summerhays/Chris Stroud: I should really couple these last two players because of their similar flight paths since the last time they played here. Summerhays led Stroud by a shot and fired 73 on Sunday to miss the playoff by three shots as he was passed by Allenby and Huh. Summerhays rallied to put himself in position last summer at the JDC and Sanderson Farms but couldn’t close the deals. The more guys put themselves in position the more scar tissue they form and I think that’s healthy at a young age. Stroud went close last summer at the Travelers where he fell in a playoff to Ken Duke and battled Ryan Moore and Gary Woodland before falling short in Malaysia. This will be event No. 7 in a row in Mexico for Stroud and he finished T5 last year, fourth in 2011 and T12 in 2008. He’s seen the weekend on his last five visits as well.