Five To Watch – 2013 OHL Classic at Mayakoba
Five Players To Watch At The 2013 OHL Classic at Mayakoba
The first portion of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season is wrapping up this week, and although I admittedly wasn't a big proponent of the switch to the wraparound schedule, I must say that it’s been an exciting month of golf. The first five events of the new season have quickly shed their former “Fall Series” stigma, and the inclusion of the World Golf Championship in China certainly brought a bit of glamour to the schedule.
Now, players who have been grinding away for the last month from Las Vegas to Malaysia and all the way back to Georgia will be greeted by the always-pleasant sight of the white sand beaches and blue waters of Playa del Carmen, host of this week’s OHL Classic at Mayakoba.
Unlike the other tournaments that have been part of this early-season run, the OHL Classic has been a semi-official part of the PGA Tour rotation for the last six seasons. Played as an alternate-field championship the same week as the WGC-Accenture Match Play, players were awarded half the FedEx Cup points of a full-field tournament. With the full 500-point allotment this year, the scenery isn’t the only thing bringing players south of the border.
The course at El Camaleon Golf Club is relatively short by normal tour standards. However, according to the PGA Tour’s official website, the sub-7,000-yard track is also known for being one of the tougher stops. If you’ve ever been to Cancun or the surrounding areas, you know that wind is always a factor coming off the ocean, and rain can pour at any time, meaning you could start a round in perfect sunshine, get stormed on by the turn, and come back the way you started. Unpredictable conditions equal unpredictable scoring.
Nearly half of this week’s field, 63 of 132 entrants, have tasted victory on the Tour before, but as always, this column picks only five for you to keep an eye on. Let’s get started.
5) Matt Every
Every, last year’s third-place finisher at Mayakoba, is still looking for his first Tour win; his performance at the McGladrey – four rounds under 70 – has to have him hungry for more success. While he hasn’t excelled in any one statistic recently, there’s something to be said for the mental preparation that goes into the game, and he should be relaxed and confident coming into this tournament.
4) Charles Howell III
Howell looked like he was on the verge of victory after finishing fifth at the Shriners Open and seventh in Malaysia, but he failed to capitalize on that last week at Sea Island. He ranks tenth in Greens in Regulation but only 52nd in strokes gained – putting so far in 2013-14. If he gets his putter in shape this week, he could be dangerous on the weekend.
3) J.J. Henry
Henry shot one of the best rounds of the young season in the opener at the Shriners Open, taking charge with a 60. Unfortunately, he fell off a bit in Las Vegas, but he showed some real flashes in the 2013 season with top-10 showings at the Travelers Championship and the John Deere Classic. Ranked 17th in GIR in 2013, Henry ranks third so far in that category in the new season.
2) Brian Gay
The “horse for the course” knows El Camaleon inside out, having a victory here in 2008 as one of four career wins. Gay got off to a slow start this year but made a run at the McGladrey last week after firing an opening 63. This is Gay’s opportunity to make a big move before the traditional schedule kicks off in January.
1) Ryan Moore
Full disclosure: I had Moore and Gay switched on this list right up until publishing, but Moore's play so far has been too good not to count him among the favorites, despite this being his first trip to Mayakoba.
Two top tens to start the year, including his win at the CIMB Classic, more than offset his slight stumble at the WGC-HSBC Champions. Moore’s accuracy from the tee will serve him well this week, and he leads the Tour in total driving. He’s actually got most of his game working well, as he ranks third in the all-around as well. Could this be win number two before Thanksgiving?