Perry’s Mayakoba Golf Classic Betting Guide & Picks: Harold Varner Highlights Value Plays
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Harold Varner III.
After a week off for Thanksgiving, the PGA TOUR is back for one final event before wrapping up the 2020 portion of its schedule.
We’ll close out the year with the Mayakoba Golf Classic at El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The event has been a fixture of the fall swing since 2013 and like many events this season, it boasts a stronger-than-normal field with Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka among those playing this week.
El Camaleon is a short, easy course that measures just under 7,000 yards for a par-71 where we can expect the winner to reach around 20-under par if the winds stay calm.
The driver is about as irrelevant here as any course on tour. It’s short, as mentioned, and anywhere that Brian Gay and Fred Funk have won shows you don’t need to bomb it off the tee. There also isn’t much rough, so accuracy really isn’t too important either. It’s truly a second-shot course where contenders will be dialed in with the wedges and enjoy a hot putting week.
We’ve mentioned in past previews for this event that this course has a strong correlation with the Sony Open in Hawaii. Both are short seaside courses that favor strong wedge play and putting. Two previous winners, Patton Kizzire and Matt Kuchar, followed this victory up by winning the Sony the following January. Two other champs, Johnson Wagner and Mark Wilson, have won both events in their careers. Last year’s champ, Brendon Todd, couldn’t duplicate the Kizzire-Kuchar feat, but he did post a solid 21st in Hawaii.
Thomas and Koepka are the headliners, so it’s no surprise they top the odds board.
Thomas is the favorite on DraftKings at +650 and is a real threat this week. He won the 2017 Sony Open after opening with a 59 en route to finishing 27-under. It will really just be about his mindset this week. Fresh off a fourth-place finish at the Masters, the game is where it needs to be to win in this field.
Koepka is in a similar spot at +1200 on BetMGM after finishing seventh at the Masters and fifth in Houston. His game has started to turn around, but a holiday break in Mexico could also be calling his name. Koepka has only played once here and missed the cut in 2013 and, unlike Thomas, he has no resume at Sony that leads to concern.
Harris English (+1600) and Tony Finau (+1800) are in that next tier below the stars. English has won here in 2013 and Finau won in Puerto Rico, another easier coastal course. But neither have the win rate I’d desire to consider betting them at these prices.
A half dozen or so players sit in that final range of this tier, starting with Daniel Berger and Viktor Hovland, who sit at +2200 and +2500 on DraftKings, respectively. Both have been playing solid and making cuts on a consistent basis, but it’s been months since either finished inside the top 10.
Abraham Ancer is level with Berger at +2200 on DraftKings playing in his home country. He had a great three days at the Masters before a difficult final day in the final group saw him slide down the leaderboard. Ancer has played well here in the past with two top-10s the last three years. If he’s able to recover from that Augusta hangover, he’s probably the guy I’d watch in this range.
Russell Henley (+2700 on FanDuel), Rickie Fowler (+3300 on BetMGM) and Will Zalatoris (+3500 on DraftKings) close out the range. Henley hasn’t played well here but does have a Sony win on his resume. Fowler was second here to Kizzire a few years ago, but his game isn’t trending anywhere near a win. Zalatoris has the ball striking to contend, but the putter is always a concern and that is highlighted more on these shorter courses where the hot putters tend to win the day.
This has been a decent range to find a winner in recent years, with both Kuchar and Kizzire coming from here at around +6000.
I’ll go with a pair of plays in this range starting with Charles Howell III at +6500 on FanDuel. Howell has had a great track record here with eight of his last 10 starts finishing inside the top 20 on this course. That’s probably the better way to back him given his lack of wins throughout his career. But I’ll add a rare outright play on him as well as a top-20 play in that +200-300 range.
I’ll also play Harold Varner III at +7000 on DK. Varner has a fifth and sixth here in four starts. So when he’s on, the course is to his liking. The putter tends to be the issue for him, but he’s gained on the greens in three of his last four starts, so he may be figuring some things out there.
Mayakoba is another tournament where I like to pepper a few longshots and tack on some place bets. That’ll be strategy again this week.
I’ll open this section with Austin Cook at 125/1 on Pointsbet. Cook doesn’t have the best history here, but his putter and irons have been solid for a couple months now for someone in this range, highlighted by a 2nd at the Shriners in Las Vegas.
Lastly, we’ll look to Wesley Bryan at 300/1 on DK. He hasn’t been playing much lately, but this is the shorter, open course that should suit his game. Bryan gained strokes on approach in six straight events prior to a missed cut in Bermuda, and he’s been an above-average putter throughout his career.
I’ll keep it light from an outright perspective this week, mostly out of concern for Thomas at the top. I’ll watch to see how he starts and if anyone slips through the cracks after a good round or two to start.
The Mayakoba Card
- Charles Howell +6500 (.51 units)
- Harold Varner +7000 (.47 units)
- Austin Cook +12500 (.26 units)
- Wes Bryan +30000 (.11 units)