We get one final shot at GPP glory in DFS for 2020 with the Mayakoba Classic from Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. A few of the world’s top players, including Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, and Tony Finau, will head south of the border to try and nab a victory before the calendar turns.
As I mentioned in my course preview, we will see plenty of scoring this week with three attackable Par 5s and four straight-forward Par 3s. I believe the tournament will be won or lost on the Par 4s, leading me to leaning on Par 4 scoring as one of my primary metrics outside of the typical strokes gained tee-to-green and ball-striking statistics.
This is a tournament that has seen winners between 18 and 22 under par over the past five years, so birdie-or-better percentage will also be an important statistic for DFS this week especially with the winds looking like a non-factor this week.
The prior winners all fit a fairly similar mold of players known for ball-striking, hitting fairways and greens, rather than relying on length. Defending Champion, Brendon Todd, is the poster child for that type of player, but Pat Perez, Patton Kizzire and Graham McDowell also solidify that mold. Taking it a step further, we have seen players like Russell Knox, Emiliano Grillo and Chez Reavie have all had top tier success at El Camaleon Golf Club.
We have a pretty straight forward player style to target, but one additional area that I found many of these players had in common was a strong short iron and wedge game. Many of these winners and top finishers rank well in the shot category from 150-175 yards as well as shots from less than 150. This makes sense with the short nature of the course, including three of the Par 3s at 154 yards or less.
Now that I’ve set the basis for my model, let’s get into my picks.
Justin Thomas $11,400 DK/$12,600 FD
I’ve got a pretty clear No. 1 player in my model and to no one’s surprise, in part because his name is listed above, it’s Justin Thomas. It doesn’t matter if I bring my stats down over short term, stretch them out long term, or look somewhere in between, it’s all the same result with JT clearly at the top.
This is just the second time Thomas has played in this tournament with the only other time coming in his rookie season six years ago, but that is the only negative in his set up. We know he’s a scorer, and can go low at any given time, but he also rates in the top four on approach for the key yardages I am targeting.
He’s also an uber-competitive person who will look to win every time he tees it up, whether it’s a major or not, making him a more comfortable play than the next closest option. I will be starting the majority of my lineups all the way at the top with Justin Thomas, and am expecting him to be in contention throughout the weekend.
Harris English $10,100 DK/$11,500 FD
We get a little better discount on DraftKings for Harris English where he comes in as the fifth-highest priced player versus the third on FanDuel, so I will mostly target this play on DK. As I have written about him time and again on various platforms, Harris English is bound to breakthrough with the way he has been playing week in and week out. This is the type of course and field where it could happen for the Georgia Bulldog, though he’s not even my favorite Dawg this week.
English fits in every way at El Camaleon GC and comes in off of a fifth-place finish at this event last year. There’s little to doubt in his form and with a solid recent course history to confirm, he makes a solid pick for pairing two studs up top on DraftKings.
Russell Henley $9,300 DK/$10,900 FD
My favorite of many good Bulldogs this week is Russell Henley. I wrote him up as my pick to win on GolfBet, and I believe this is a perfect tournament for him to find his first win since 2017.
Henley is a completely different player from the one that missed the cut at the Mayakoba Classic last season, but I am hopeful that will deter others from clicking his name this week. He rates out in my model as the third-ranked player, despite being priced well beyond that, adding to his value.
Lastly, he’s clearly above the rest of the field in proximity for the yardage metrics I am targeting. I’ll be well over the field on Russell Henley this week regardless of where his ownership falls.
Emiliano Grillo $8,300 DK/$9,900 FD
One thing that I haven’t mentioned just yet is how, outside of Brendon Todd, we have seen a number of less-than-good putters perform well at El Camaleon Golf Club. It could be that the greens are slower, bigger, and lacking big undulation due to it being a coastal track which is susceptible to high winds. I will be largely ignoring putting stats this week, which allows me to play someone like Grillo who will make you want to turn away from the TV when he’s on the greens.
The Argentinian is as solid as they come tee-to-green, but things can get ugly when it comes to him making in the cup. I’m willing to look past that this week based on the profile of prior winners, and his own course history which includes three Top-15 finishes in the last four years.
Grillo clearly has a level of comfort on this course and his form is there to potentially see him contending this weekend. The price is right on both sites, and right now the ownership is hovering just over 10% which is plenty low enough to have him as a core play in lineups this week.
Keegan Bradley $7,700 DK/$9,300 FD
I was honestly a bit surprised to see just how well Keegan Bradley has been playing during the Fall Swing. His stats have him in the Top 20 in this field long term and even inside the Top 10 over shorter term. Most recently, he finished 15th at the RSM Classic, which would be a solid result for his price this week.
While he missed the cut in 2019 at this event, he had back to back Top-15 finishes in 2015 and 2016, so the course fit is in there somewhere. I’ve seen his name floated a bit in the golf betting industry, but I am hoping his ownership will stay below 10% with some of the other names around him, making Keegan a solid leverage play this week.
John Huh $7,400 DK/$8,900
Huh? Yep. The dropoff is pretty real when we are reaching for John Huh before we’ve gotten to the bottom price tier. The thing is he rates out well, and if you are looking at ownership, is he really that different from Doug Ghim? Both players have played well of late, but it’s Huh that has some Top 30 course history at El Camaleon GC.
I think this is the range where you start splitting hairs with players and if guys like Ghim are going to approach 3x more ownership than Huh, I’ll happily take that leverage to be able to be a little more chalky up top.
Brian Stuard $6,900 DK/$8,400 FD
The first name that comes up in my model under $7,000 on DraftKings is Brian Stuard, and looking closer it makes a ton of sense. He’s a shorter hitter, more known for hitting fairways and greens, just like some of the prior top finishers at this course. Stuard does have some course history of his own, making the cut in three of the last four years, which includes a 23rd and a ninth-place finish. Sign me up for either of those results, preferably the 9th, and you’ll have plenty of money to spend up elsewhere.
He also fits from a stat perspective, especially with his short iron game, though he’s fallen short on results in recent events. I am willing to buy in that he can put it together for four rounds to pay off this price point.
Jason Dufner $6,500 DK/$7,800 FD
This one is purely a gut play. If you look at anything Jason Dufner has done recently, you’ll immediately be turned off and turned away similar to the other 99% that project not to own him this week. I will be in as part of the 1% as he is near the top of the board in the approach categories I like this week, and he has a couple of decent results in his past two trips to Mexico. I’m in for a few, but I won’t go crazy here.