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Justin Thomas of team USA tees off during The Presidents Cup practice at Royal Melbourne Golf Club. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire)
November 3rd, 2021
This week the PGA Tour heads to Mexico and to the wonderfully unique course, El Camaleón. This coastal course can prove challenging not only with the wind, but also because it has three very different landscapes – tropical jungle, dense mangroves, and the oceanfront. There’s even an underground cave in the middle of the first fairway.
It sounds more like the gameshow The Crystal Maze than a PGA Tour event, but the switch from February to November eight years ago has made playing conditions slightly easier, and every winner since has reached at least 17-under-par.
Six of the last seven winners have all ranked in the top 11 for greens in regulation, and that’s going to be more important than being particularly long off the tee, while being able to scramble and make putts on the par 4s is crucial on the Paspalum grass.
Thomas has played this event twice, finishing 23rd on his debut in 2015, before a 12th placed effort last season, which included a superb round of 62. Viktor Hovland is the defending champion, so this match bet looks like a fair fight, although JT is the man to side with.
BirdieBirdieParBirdieParBirdieBirdieBirdie@JustinThomas34 is making birdies from everywhere. pic.twitter.com/O73xcC44gr— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 15, 2021
BirdieBirdieParBirdieParBirdieBirdieBirdie@JustinThomas34 is making birdies from everywhere. pic.twitter.com/O73xcC44gr
Thomas is a proven winner with 14 PGA Tour victories to his name, and the first two of those wins came in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, which he won in 2015 and 2016 – back when the course was on Paspalum, so that should not be an issue here. In his last four starts, he has top five finishes in the Northern Trust and the Tour Championship, accompanied by solid efforts in the BMW Championship (22nd) and the CJ Cup (18th).
Hovland’s win here came after a victory in the Puerto Rico Open, so conditions clearly suit his game, but his form leaves many question mark. In his last 11 tournaments he has one top 10 finish (fifth in the Tour Championship), and has gone off the boil from his red-hot form earlier in the year.
This should be close, but JT can edge it.
Who doesn’t love a local hero winning their hometown golf event? Ancer is popular in the outright market, and he looks like a great bet to see off Cameron Tringale.
Ancer won the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational in August to break his PGA Tour duck, and has kept that momentum up since, finishing top 10 in the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship, as well as finishing 14th in the CJ Cup last time out.
"I'm really lucky to be able to grow up here."@Abraham_Ancer's humble beginnings have prepared him for where he is now. pic.twitter.com/6FUyZnkuz4— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 9, 2021
"I'm really lucky to be able to grow up here."@Abraham_Ancer's humble beginnings have prepared him for where he is now. pic.twitter.com/6FUyZnkuz4
Form here is also classy, and since 2018 his four finishes have been ninth, 21st, eighth, and 12th, with 12 of his 16 rounds shot in 69 or less.
Cameron Tringale was second in the Zozo Championship, but that was his first top 10 finish since May 2, a run that lasted 14 tournaments. The biggest concern is his course form though as he has played here six times with a best finish of 25th – his other five finishes were MC-MC-MC-46-66.
Rickie Fowler is not at the heights he once was on the PGA Tour, but he has enough in his locker to see off Englishman Justin Rose in this prop bet. Fowler was third in the CJ Cup two starts ago in which he ranked first for greens in regulation. That’s a key pointer at this course, and a similar ball striking effort should see him reap the rewards.
"Yeah, but it's a hard shot." Not for @RickieFowler. 😎 pic.twitter.com/9iuvVuRyKY— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 2, 2021
"Yeah, but it's a hard shot." Not for @RickieFowler. 😎 pic.twitter.com/9iuvVuRyKY
Fowler missed the cut here last year, which is a concern, but before that his other two finishes were second and 16th, so there may have been bigger issues 12 months ago away from the course itself.
Rose’s form is certainly questionable, as his 10th at the Wyndham Championship was his only finish in his last five tournaments better than 36th. This is his debut here, so Fowler’s course experience gives him the edge.
Swafford is a huge price in the outright market, and I feel is a sneaky prop bet to make the top 40 here. His las five finishes at the course have been between 46th and 66th, but he’s made the cut every time, and has shown flashes of brilliance – including a 65 in round one in 2015.
🚨 HOLE IN ONE 🚨Hudson Swafford makes an ace in his WGC debut! pic.twitter.com/8NXKfywxwb— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) August 4, 2017
🚨 HOLE IN ONE 🚨Hudson Swafford makes an ace in his WGC debut! pic.twitter.com/8NXKfywxwb
Form on Paspalum is not a problem for Swafford, who won the Corales Puntacana last year, which was his second win on Tour. Recent form is strong as well, as he posted top 20 finishes in high class fields in the Northern Trust and BMW Championship in August, and finished 32nd in the CJ Cup last time out.
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