Prize Fund: $6,100,000
Winner’s Share: $1,098,000
Course: El Camaleon (Par 71 – 6,987yards)
The final fully fledged PGA Tour event of the year has finally come around and what a 2014 it has been. We really have seen some amazing golf throughout. We have been treated to 13 first time winners, a golfing masterclass and return to dominance by Rory McIlroy, a resounding victory for Team Europe at the Ryder Cup, a remarkable 6 Australian winners (which is the most since 2006) and for us? Well, we’ve had our ups and downs and if you’ve followed us throughout the year, you will know some of the heart break we’ve been through. 10 winners for starters, including Fabrizio Zanotti at 100/1 which was a healthy return! But the award for best victory has to go to Matt Jones at 125/1 winning the Shell Houston Open because of that unbelievable putt on the 18th and holing out from the bunker in the playoff to beat Matt Kuchar.
However, there have been sooooo many 2nd places and final hole bottles that it’s impossible to keep count. We will be publishing a cheeky ‘DownThe18th tale of 2014’ later next week, so do come back to check that out!
BUT onto the actual tournament this week and we are not going to be treated to the most incredible field you’ve ever seen for a PGA Tour standard. It isn’t filled with stars, especially when you see that last weeks winner Bubba Watson has decided to stay in Asia for the Taiheiyo Masters in Japan, whilst Charl Schwartzel, Jason Dufner and Seung-Yul Noh are in north Thailand for the Chiangmai Classic. We will also be tweeting out a few of our doubles and accumulators this week because due to those 4 appearing at such tournaments, value will be immense!
Follow us Twitter @downthe18th to have a look what we’re saying on Wednesday this week. We have come incredibly close with some accts/doubles ranging from 300/1-100,000/1….
The field that will assemble for the Mayakoba will be hopping over the border into Mexico and the gorgeous El Camaleon course. The 6,987 yard par 71 has all the hallmarks of a classic links course, due to it’s situation on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. Conditions can obviously get interesting, with wind swirling in from all sorts of directions, but what intrigues us the most is how the track actually sets up.
Clearly it isn’t a bombers paradise as designer Greg Norman has created the ideal tee to green haven. You will really suffer if you go offline here. The fairways may not be particularly narrow, BUT they have the defence of an abundance of varying hazards.
There are bunkers littered everywhere and for that matter, bloody difficult ones to get out of. The tropical surroundings mean there is forestry, vegetation for rough, lagoons and of course the sea. Still all that being said, it isn’t the most difficult course the players will attack, however it is one of those that if you don’t treat it right, you will find scoring incredibly difficult.
All the accuracy stats, short 100-125 yard wedges and scrambling will all play a part this week, so keep an eye on them when making your judgement calls!
Happy punting and thank you for a marvellous 2014. Bring it on 15′.
Rory Sabbatini (40/1 StanJames)
As you would expect with a tournament like this, odds will fluctuate meaning some people may be priced out the market, whilst others represent outstanding value. Rory Sabbatini however is in neither of those categories. At 40/1 he feels about right, even though we’ve been know to back him at 250s!
He is an extremely experienced stalwart of the Tour with 6 PGA titles and a near major win at the 2007 Masters (he finished T2). He has had an up and down 2014, finding patches of form and certainly dealing with some tricky periods. When he plays well it is mainly down to the unbelievable tee to green game he has. His irons are faultless, proven by the fact he is 7th for the category so far this year. He does have his off days but on courses like this, we really feel he has the ability to free his arms and attack pins like we all know he can.
Interestingly he’s been driving the ball longer in the past couple of years, in his 3 tournaments so far this season he has averaged over 300 yards – something he has never done on the PGA Tour. Mixed in with his straightness off the tee, that is a dangerous combination for this sort of track. On his last outing in Malaysia he finished T8 which should give him plenty of confidence, especially in those horrendous windy conditions that may transpire over here.
But more importantly he has played here 3 times, finding the top 5 twice – T3 last year, challenging most of the way till Harris English swooped in and played some of the most spectacular iron golf you could ever see and T5 back in 2011. He genuinely has that ability with the irons like English does and if he gets them going, he will be such a dangerous prospect.
William McGirt (40/1 various)
Again 40/1 for William McGirt seems fair especially after his 7th placed finish last week, but that doesn’t stop it feeling odd that we’ve gone there at such prices. This is a 35-year old lad who is yet to win a PGA Tour title, but we all got the chance to see him up there last week at the Sandersons. He was 2 behind John Rollins going into the final day, but a 72 put pay to his opportunity and a first trophy with it. In all honesty it didn’t look or feel like a proper bottle because he never properly contended on that Sunday. Yes he had chances, but a double and bogey on the front 9 meant he truly had to wine the cobwebs off his cabinet. That makes us interested by him even more.
He still showed what a ridiculous tee to green player he is as well and that is one of the main reasons we are most intrigued by him for this. Miraculously he was hit over 80% of greens, meaning he was T1 in the stat for the week and he was 17th for driving accuracy. Those sort of figures make you drool at the prospect of him on a shotmakers paradise like this.
In fact he has had a fairly promising start to the season. Withdrew from the Frys after a good start, 2 Top 33 finishes and then his 7th last week. Encouraging. He is even 42nd in strokes gained putting for the year, so if he gets all that going, then he will be a big danger.
Colt Knost (80/1 various)
Firstly, Colt Knost is a magnificent name. Well done Mr and Mrs Knost. Secondly, this is a naughtily little mid-range bet for this week. He is one of those players that has gone completely under the radar in recent history. That’s helped by the fact he has been like a yo-yo between the Web.com and main Tours, but after his truly stellar finish to 2014, we cannot help but feel he is still going to be in that sort of mood.
He hasn’t played amazingly admittedly but we are hoping that is to do with the sort of courses he’s had to deal with. Look, we knows it the 2nd Tour, but hess results are not going to be made by just any mug – T5, MC, 4th, 2nd, T8, T14. That is impressive. He may of found it difficult again at the moment to settle alongside the best once more, but that will change and this could be the week.
If anything the fact he’s shown this grit and determination to bounce back after a disappointing year shows his sort of character and we love that. During the 2014 season he was 6th for birdie or better (4 very short par 3’s on offer) and he was 2nd in driving accuracy, 75th for GIR and 13th in putting average. A LETHAL combo. He has also finished T3 here back in 2012 when shot a 66 and 67 to close out the tournament. Come on Knosty, be a Colt hero…
Heath Slocum (100/1 PaddyPower)
Heath Slocum has missed a few cuts this year and in all fairness not started very well. But we cannot resist our urge to back him this week because ultimately his game suits this track.
His driving accuracy has consistently been one of the best on Tour – 28th so far this year, whilst his irons come hand in hand when he plays well. He was a bit wayward attacking the greens in his T58 finish last week, but he really didn’t have the greatest of final days which didn’t help.
He will be coming onto a course he knows very well though, after a wonderful T3 finish here back in 2009. He notably came T13 the year later and if he gets everything going, he could be an interesting idea.
Our two outsiders this week come in the form of Billy Hurley III (100/1 various) and Alex Cejka (350/1 Bet365). Both players are tee to green gurus and will most certainly suit this challenge.
Firslt Hurley has come into a lot of money in the past 24 hours. We first saw him at 150s with some, but he has come back considerably. Clearly a lot of that is to do with his T8 finish at the CIMB Classic a few weeks back. Get this though, he was averaging over 81% in both GIR and driving accuracy for the week. Now THAT is not just lethal, that is fatally devastating. Even in a difficult 2014 he finished 7th for driving accuracy and 63rd GIR, so essentially all he does is tee to green. Perfect combinations.
As for Cejka, we have often gone there in random tournaments because we all know the sort of player he can be and prices often look too attractive to turn down. This has remnants of that no doubt, but to be fair to the German, he has had a T18 finish this year and for tee to green stalwarts, he is certainly up there. He had an impressive year on the Web.com – 7th driving accuracy and 37th tee to green shows his capabilities, whilst he even got a win. Worth a few spare pennies!