Hey guys, welcome back to 'Horse For The Course'! I hope you all enjoyed the short break, I know it was much needed for me, as I really struggled with the Asian Swing portion of the schedule. It sounds crazy, but I had back-to-back weeks with players withdrawing in no-cut events, which is ridiculous! That's just the type of run it was...and is just an example of the type of swings we can experience in PGA DFS!
Ok, enough about the bad luck. The PGA Tour is heading back to this side of the globe, as we travel down Mexico way for the Mayakoba Classic. And guess what? There's a cut! Of course, a cut brings its own set of challenges, but I'm eager to get back to the feel of a "normal" golf tournament. Thanks for joining me again here at RotoBaller, let's take a look at this week's event!
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Mayakoba Classic Overview
The Mayakoba Classic has become somewhat infamous over the past 12 months due to the controversy surrounding last year's winner Matt Kuchar and his payment (or non-payment) to fill-in caddie, David "El Tucan" Ortiz, the local looper who was on the bag when Kuch took down the title last year. I'm not going to dive into that can of worms here, but let's just say that things will probably be pretty uncomfortable for the defending champ this week.
In addition to Kuchar, we have some team members of the upcoming President Cup that will be in attendance this week. Jason Day and Tony Finau are perhaps the most notable stars in this field, but they'll also be joined by young 'Prez Cuppers' Joaquin Niemann and Mexico-native Abraham Ancer.
Overall, this is a fairly "run-of-the-mill" swing season field, with a couple of elite players mixed in with some solid pros and PGA Tour rookies. As I mentioned (happily) in the intro, we are back to a 36-hole cut this week and will want to keep the dynamics of the PGA Tour's new cut rule in mind, as 6/6 lineups have been hard to come by in the fall swing. Enough chatter, golf is back! Let's tee it up!
You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.
The Course: El Camaleon Golf Club
Par 71 - 6,987 Yards, Greens: Paspalum
If Matt Kuchar's win last year isn't a good enough indicator, let me be clear: this is a plodders golf course. Yes, players can go low here, but they will need to consistently hit fairways and greens to do it. A 2006 Greg Norman design, El Camaleon is a unique course that takes advantage of a beautiful and interesting natural landscape. It is perhaps most famous for its "sinkholes" that can give golfers fits. This is a short course by modern standards, but not one that can be easily overpowered. Accuracy off the tee is crucial and we will see lots of players hitting less than driver this week. Ball striking will also be at a premium at El Camaleon in order to find fairways and greens in what is typically windy coastline conditions. A hot putter never hurts and that is again the case this week on a Seashore Paspalum putting surface that we basically never see on the PGA Tour. I'll be targeting accurate ball strikers who are capable of working their way around this course with precision and getting in a groove with the flatstick.
Harris English (DK - $8,000)
Notable Course History: T68 ('19), M/C ('18-'16), Win ('14)
There are some heavy hitters in the Mayakoba field, but my favorite dollar-for-dollar play on the board is Harris English. English was a rising star once upon a time, and won this tournament back in 2014 for what was supposed to be the first of many victories for him, but he's struggled over the last few years. After picking his play up enough at the end of the 2018-19 season to keep his PGA Tour card, English has come out of the gates firing in the new season, logging three top-six finishes in his four fall starts.
His sudden surge can be tied directly to his vastly improved ball striking. English heads to Mexico tied for first in the field in both Good Drives Gained and Greens In Regulation Gained over his last 12 rounds, both of which are keys to success on this El Camaleon layout. Another important factor on this course is the ability to score on the Par-4s, an area where English excels and ranks tied for first in the field in Strokes Gained: Par 4s over his last 12 rounds.
At just $8k, English feels almost criminally underpriced. This is a player with tournament-winning upside that comes in as the 23rd-highest-priced option on DraftKings! Listen, it's golf and English unfortunately hasn't teed it up in a month, so anything can happen...but he's playing his best golf in years and is headed to a course that he's won on previously and fits his game perfectly. English is a no-brainer for me this week.
Viktor Hovland (DK - $11,200)
Notable Course History: M/C ('19)
Those of you that read this article regularly are probably well aware of my affinity for Viktor Hovland (because he's AWESOME), so I'm not gonna spend a ton of time on him here. I'll just say that on a week where there's lots of quality available in the mid-range on DK, Hovland is without a doubt my favorite "spend up" option.
The young star showed us that he is indeed human by firing *GASP* three rounds over 70 in his two starts on the Asia Swing, which ended his PGA Tour-record streak of 19 consecutive sub-70 rounds. Will the combination of Hovland's relatively-middling results in Asia and his high price tag make DFS players a bit cool on him this week? As I write this, I'm not sure of where his projected ownership is, but I'll be keeping an eye on it as the week progresses and won't hesitate to be very overweight if it looks as though he'll be underowned. Hovland missed the cut as an amateur at Mayakoba last year, despite making 10 birdies in his two rounds. Though he's only been on Tour for a very short time, he's already a much more polished player than he was at this time last year and I expect that small bit of exposure to this layout to help him this week.
Charles Howell III (DK - $9,600)
Notable Course History: M/C ('19), T4 ('18), T7 ('17)
Rostering Charles Howell III on DraftKings always feels like ordering a scoop of vanilla at an ice cream parlor that has 100 flavors. Rostering him at $9,600 makes it feel like you're paying 20 bucks for that scoop of vanilla. That said, this is a golf course where "vanilla" routinely works very well and CH3 is hard to ignore this week. He's been strong since the new season kicked off, logging a top-five finish at the Safeway Open in September, in addition to mixing in a top-20 and a top-10 over three starts during the recent Asia Swing. He has three top-10s and four top-20s in 10 career starts at Mayakoba, which makes for an undeniable blend of recent form and course history. It always feels like we're sacrificing some win equity when rostering Chuckie, but it's tough to argue that he's not a sharp play this week. Getting CH3 in your lineups won't win you any style points, but it should once again be very effective at Mayakoba.
Denny McCarthy, Danny Lee & J.T. Poston (DK - $8,400, $8,300 & $8,200)
Notable Course History: McCarthy - T41, T68 ('19-'18); Lee - 2nd, T25 ('19-'18); Poston - T21, T14 ('19-'18)
We've only very briefly ever touched on 'player blocks' in this article, but this trio of players presents those of you that are making multiple lineups this week with a unique opportunity to lock up a nice core for around $25k in salary. All three head to Mayakoba in sharp form with Lee coming off a runner-up finish and a top-10 on the Asia Swing and also owning the best course history of the three. McCarthy was first on the PGA Tour in SG: Putting last season and is tied for the lead in this week's field in SG: Par 4s over his last 12 rounds. Poston tasted victory for the first time a few months ago at the Wyndham, owns consistent course history, and has been rock-solid during the fall season. You can stack these three together and have a very comfortable average of around $8.3k/per player for your remaining three roster spots, which allows you to do some do some interesting things when entering multiple lineups. Individually, I would rank them: 1. Poston, 2. McCarthy, 3. Lee...if you want to pick and choose rather than play them all together.
Cameron Tringale (DK - $7,400)
Notable Course History: T25 ('18), T46 ('17)
Cameron Tringale is sort of a 'Charles Howell III-Lite'. He doesn't really knock your socks off or get you pumped when you roster him, but like CH3, he is just a very solid, quality player. This week, it feels as though we are getting a lot of bang for our buck with Tringale at just $7.4k, especially if we consider that he was priced at $8.7k the last time he teed it up at the Houston Open, where he logged a T13. Tringale's course history is mediocre-at-best, but like the aforementioned Harris English, he's currently playing at a higher level than he has in years. He's a great fit for this layout on paper, as he stands eighth in the field in Good Drives Gained and 26th in GIR's Gained over his last 12 rounds, while standing 11th in Birdies Gained and fifth in Bogeys Avoided. At $7.4k, we're getting a consistent performer that's 4/4 in made cuts this fall with two top-16 outings in those starts.
Brandon Wu (DK - $6,800)
Notable Course History: None
As you can see throughout this week's article, I'm definitely leaning toward players with prior Mayakoba experience. However, I'm willing to buck that trend (at least in GPPs) with young Brandon Wu. Wu is a less-heralded member of the Hovland/Morikawa/Wolff crop of collegians, but don't let the lack of hype fool you, the kid is talented. Wu opted to finish school rather than turn pro last season, and he led Stanford to an NCAA title and the U.S. team to a Walker Cup win before turning pro. The 22-year-old logged a T35 at the U.S. Open as an amateur and flirted with a top-10 finish in his professional debut in windy conditions at the Houston Open last month. Obviously the statistical sample size is small, so we're forced to take a little leap of faith here, but Wu is a player that relies on precision and accuracy both off the tee and on approach...a style of play that's a recipe for success at Mayakoba. I also like how he's handled playing in the wind, which can always be a factor at El Camaleon. He's a 'GPP Only' play, but I feel like this might be the cheapest we see Brandon Wu priced this season. I understand if you want to take a 'wait and see approach' here, but I'm never scared to jump on these young guys early.