The PGA Tour remains outside the United States for the third consecutive week as players make their way just south of Cancun to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Previously known as the OHL Classic, a new title sponsor World Wide Technology welcomes a strong field to El Camaleon at Mayakoba. A vacation spot for some – as Brooks Koepka had his fair share of fun here after a missed cut last year – this week is a fantastic opportunity to gain some crucial early-season FedExCup points.
As we saw last week in Bermuda, Lucas Herbert broke through on the PGA Tour for the first time in his career. A two-time winner on the European Tour, most recently this past summer at the Irish Open, the Australian took to the difficult, windy conditions at Port Royal Golf Course.
With a young player finding his way into the winner’s circle, it is hard not to recall last year’s winner at the World Wide Technology Championship in Viktor Hovland. Having won the Puerto Rico Open in an opposite-field event, Hovland’s victory at Mayakoba marked the second of his career and second on paspalum putting surfaces.
Reaching 20 under by the end of the week, the ever-smiling Norwegian led the field in greens in regulation, birdies and par-4 scoring. Needing a birdie on the 72nd hole to hold off a charging Aaron Wise, Hovland carded a final round 6-under 65 to win by one stroke.
The year before, it was Brendon Todd who won the World Wide Technology Championship, carrying the momentum from his victory at the Bermuda Championship. Also finishing at 20 under, the former Georgia Bulldog utilized a balanced approach en route to his victory. Second in good drives, bogeys and par-3 scoring, fourth in greens in regulation and birdies, and fifth in par-4 scoring, Todd had every aspect of his bag cooperating.
The previous three winners read Matt Kuchar, Patton Kizzire and Pat Perez. From these five players, we can extrapolate the skills needed to effectively take apart El Camaleon.
Justin Thomas tops the World Wide Technology Championship oddsboard at BetOnline Sportsbook. The highest-ranked player in the field, the world No. 7 is arriving in fantastic form. If the putter chooses to cooperate, it is likely the American captures yet another PGA Tour title as he finished in a tie for 12th in last season’s edition of this tournament. At +1200, our odds calculator gives Thomas an 7.69 percent chance to claim the top spot at Mayakoba.
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Here’s a look at the golfers with the likeliest World Wide Technology Championship betting odds to emerge triumphant in Bermuda this week.
Who Is Favored In The 2021 World Wide Technology Championship At Mayakoba?
Odds as of November 1 at BetOnline Sportsbook
Course And Analysis
Whenever El Camaleon takes center stage, driving accuracy often becomes a trendy talking point. However, when looking to last year’s leaderboard, six of the top 16 actually ranked in the bottom half of that category with Tom Hoge, Carlos Ortiz, Tony Finau, Max Homa, Justin Thomas and Maverick McNealy holding the distinct honors.
So, while driving accuracy is important on this Greg Norman design – don’t get me wrong – there are numerous avenues to success and it is not a be-all and end-all, which some may suggest. Instead, we will look to keep our focus on scoring clubs as an average winning score of nearly 21 under has taken shape over the last half-decade.
A par 71, El Camaleon is a short course by the tour’s standards, stretching out to just about 7,000 yards. There are a few beefy par 4s mixed in there, namely Nos. 14 and 16, but they aren’t anything these players can’t handle. Instead, I see the clubs from 125 to 150 yards carrying the majority of the weight this week as numerous shots will fall in this range.
In addition to total driving and the standard importance on iron play – specifically the above yardage range – par-4 scoring will hold a piece to the eventual puzzle as well. With 11 such holes on the property, Hovland, Kuchar and Kizzire all led the field in scoring on those particular holes in their wins, with Todd ranking fifth and Perez second.
Mix in some birdie-making metrics and that just about sums up our angle of attack for the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba.
World Wide Technology Championship Expert Picks
Billy Horschel (+2800 To Win)
A player we have not seen in a while, the world No. 20 is no stranger to contending in Mayakoba. Playing in the World Wide Technology Championship for the fourth consecutive year, Horschel appears to have figured out El Camaleon in recent appearances. After collecting finishes of T-5 and T-8 in his last two outings on this par 71, Horschel arrives this year off an extended break.
The last time Horschel graced us with his presence, he was busy winning the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour. Beating a strong field across the pond, the former Florida Gator should take confidence from such a result despite the lack of reps.
Last year, he arrived off a month-long layoff, so he is clearly comfortable without needing to ease back into competitive golf. With his irons flashing some serious form to end last season, the rest of Horschel’s game should suit El Camaleon. A straight driver of the golf ball and a great putter, the 34-year-old should enjoy a nice week in Mexico.
Joaquin Niemann (+4500 To Win)
Niemann almost feels like a carbon copy of Hovland when you stack their statistical profiles against each other. Both are strong drivers, competent iron players, poor from around the green, and have the tendency to be hit-or-miss with the flat stick in hand. However, with Hovland claiming victory last season, I believe we can take solace in the short game taking a back seat this week at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba.
While he shot out of the gates at Narashino Country Club, the young Chilean eventually sputtered over the next 54 holes. Finishing in a tie for 28th, it was hardly Niemann’s best effort, but marked the first time this season he struck the ball up to his standards.
Fifth in good drives and seventh in greens in regulation, that ball striking from Japan should translate to success this week in Mexico. While the results have not stacked up at Mayakoba – with finishes of T-60, MC and T-23 – he is narrowly net positive in strokes gained in his three trips to El Camaleon.
With his week likely coming down to his performance on the greens, Niemann has peaked and valleyed plenty of times over the last year. The one saving grace is the last time he stepped foot on paspalum, the 22-year-old posted +4.8 Strokes Gained: Putting at the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island.
Gary Woodland (+6000 To Win)
With 18 rounds under his belt at El Camaleon, Woodland arrives this season having garnered a bit of form in his previous starts. Missing the cut at the Sanderson Farms Championship, the 2019 U.S. Open Champion bounced back in his next outing at the Summit Club. On a course that required adequate driving, Woodland posted +5.0 SG: Off-the-Tee, ranking third in the category en route to his top-10 finish.
This should be news to Woodland fans as the once elite skill had abandoned him while he was battling injuries. Posting such an effort, if Woodland can continue to strike his irons well, he should only stack up quality results as he has done damage on shorter courses before. Victories at Pebble Beach and the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook should come to Woodland’s aid this week. As an added bonus, the Kansas native fell two strokes shy of Pat Perez in 2016 in a runner-up effort.
Gaining strokes on approach in nine of his last 12 starts on the PGA Tour, the 37-year-old’s weakness has the potential to be stashed away at El Camaleon. Hardly a savant from around the green, Woodland has yet to gain strokes across the board since the Wells Fargo Championship.
I’m not saying he’ll need his short game to transform into that of Patrick Reed’s, but a slight uptick in that particular area of his bag should propel Woodland’s name onto the first page of the leaderboard.
Matt Kuchar (+10000 To Win)
He was mentioned previously in not the greatest of lights, but Kuchar’s game appears to be turning a corner to begin the 2021-22 PGA Tour season. A T-36 finish at the Fortinet Championship was followed up with a T-35 finish at the Shriners Children’s Open where the 43-year-old struck his irons beautifully, posting +3.3 SG: Approach.
With his irons in form and his accuracy off the tee present, El Camaleon is one of the few opportunities each season where Kuchar can legitimately contend. Victories at TPC Sawgrass, Harbour Town Golf Links, Waialae Country Club and here at El Camaleon display the type of golf suitable for Kuchar’s game.
Accuracy-driven, tight golf courses where the winning score has the potential to reach 20 under should be right in Kuchar’s wheelhouse. If he can get the putter to cooperate in a sense where he is posting somewhere in the neighborhood of +5.0 SG: Putting, then Kuchar should find himself in the mix.
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