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mayakoba picks

The PGA Tour returns to North America following a three-event swing through Asia and a one-week hiatus. El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen, Mexico hosts this week’s Mayakoba Golf Classic. Matt Kuchar, ranked No. 22 in the Official World Golf Ranking, returns as the defending champion. Tony Finau, ranked No. 16, is the top-ranked golfer in the 128-man field. Below, we make our Mayakoba Golf Classic betting picks.

Justin ThomasTiger Woods and Rory McIlroy each picked up victories overseas at The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges, Zozo Championship and WGC-HSBC Champions, respectively. They’re all likely to now take prolonged breaks ahead of next month’s Hero World Challenge. Early 2019-20 winners Joaquin NiemannSebastian Muniz, Cameron ChampLanto Griffin and Brendon Todd are in the field, however. Griffin looks to extend his lead atop the FedExCup Standings in the fall portion of the season. Next week’s RSM Classic will be the final full-field event until the Sony Open running Jan. 9-12, 2020.

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The course: El Camaleon Golf Club

El Camaleon GC hosts a PGA Tour event for the 13th time. The course plays as a par 71 under tournament conditions and measures 6,987 yards. The last six winning scores have ranged from minus-17 to Kuchar’s 72-hole record 22-under par.

Water comes into play on holes 2, 3, 5, 13, 14, 16, 17. The venue, designed by Greg Norman, runs along the Atlantic Ocean and is interwoven through jungles and canals. The four par 3s range from 116 to 200 yards. The par 4s measure between 360 and 485 yards with three coming in below 400 yards. Two par 5s are 554 yards in length with the third a modest 532.

It’s this 532-yard, par-5 13th which played as the easiest hole on the course a year ago with a scoring average of 4.472. The most difficult was just one hole earlier at No. 12. The 451-yard par 4 played to an average of 4.148 strokes. One eagle and just 45 birdies were carded along with 79 bogeys and 14 doubles. In all, 10 holes played to a scoring average below par with eight scoring above. Each of the par 5s and par 3s played below par.

Key stats to consider for the Mayakoba Classic

There’s plenty of course history from which to draw with El Camaleon being a staple fixture on the PGA Tour. Based on historical statistical trends from Fantasy National and Data Golf our key stats for this week are Strokes Gained: ApproachStrokes Gained: Ball Striking, Opportunities Gained and Greens in Regulation Gained.

My model at Fantasy National looks at the most recent 36 rounds for each golfer in the field. We’ll also look at the early-season results as well as previous results at Playa del Carmen.

Mayakoba Classic betting picks: Sleepers and value bets

Austin Cook +12000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

This is a great event at which to look for value and potentially target more longshots than usual instead of investing more heavily on the favorites. Cook finished T-50 in his debut here in 2018 and skipped last year’s event. He started his season with a quality 14th-place showing at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier but missed the cut in his next three events before a T-17 at the Houston Open. He didn’t participate in any of the three events in Asia, like many of the golfers in this field, and should be well-rested.

Cook ranks ninth in the field in Opportunities Gained. He was sixth in the field in Houston in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and also gained nearly two strokes per round on the approach. He would have flirted with a top-10 result if it weren’t for his 0.12 strokes lost putting. He’s worth a small investment as a deep dart throw in a lackluster field.

Jhonattan Vegas +11000 (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Vegas made the cut here in each of his last three tries, led by a T-10 in 2017. He has played 28 rounds here since 2015 and is well accustomed to the track. The 35-year-old from Venezuela ranks 12th overall in the stat model, but he’s second in Opportunities Gained, fifth in SG: Ball Striking and seventh in Greens in Regulation Gained. He placed T-16 in the loaded field at The CJ Cup and enters the week as a three-time PGA Tour champ.

Doc Redman +10000 (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Redman, 21, ranks 152nd in the world after closing 2018 ranked 1,356th. He has just one missed cut in six events this season with a top showing of T-13 at the Houston Open. Last year’s runner-up at the Rocket Mortgage Classic ranks seventh in the field in SG: Ball Striking and 17th in Greens in Regulation Gained. A third-year pro, he’s already been nearly forgotten among the swarm of young talent on Tour. Viktor Hovland, who turned pro earlier this calendar year, is one year Redman’s senior and is priced as the favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook (+1400).

Mayakoba Classic betting picks: Our winner

Emiliano Grillo +3500 (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Grillo is without a PGA Tour victory since the 2015 Frys.com Open. Now 27 years old, the Argentinian ranks second to the aforementioned Hovland in this week’s stat model. He shares the field lead in SG: Approach and ranks second in SG: Ball Striking and Greens in Regulation Gained. Grillo’s 15th-place finish last year was his worst in three appearances, following a T-9 in 2018 and a T-10 in 2017. His 1.91 average strokes gained per round at this venue lead all golfers with a minimum of 12 rounds played since 2015. He placed T-26 at the CJ Cup and T-30 at the Zozo Championship in much stronger fields.