And then there was one.
The PGA Tour’s final full-field event for the year, the Mayakoba Classic, is set for this week at El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. After that, it’s time for a little R&R. Some of the big names in the world rankings list are already scattering around the globe to take advantage of that time off. But there are still plenty of top-tier players taking part in this week’s event and that will build the excitement level.
How top-tier? How about Justin Thomas? The world’s No. 3-ranked player is in the field and is the betting favorite. There’s also Brooks Koepka teeing it up. Koepka is trying to make up for lost time (he’s only ranked No. 46 in the FedEx Cup rankings having played in just three events because of hip and knee injuries). Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler and Gary Woodland also add punch to the field.
Some of the big names in the world rankings list are already scattering around the globe to take advantage of that time off. But there are still plenty of top-tier players taking part in this week’s event and that will build the excitement level.Brooks Koepka commits to Mayakoba Golf Classic, 2020 PGA Tour finale https://t.co/JoAfBrc3l5 pic.twitter.com/4Qlp7OxSiH
— Golfweek (@golfweek) November 22, 2020
This tournament usually has been an ideal spot for many of the lesser-known players to make an impact as the big names have a tendency to skip this event.
Like the rest of 2020, the word “usual” can be thrown out. But this event will still give those climbing the world golf rankings and FedEx Cup rankings one last chance to hit paydirt before the extended holiday break, if three weeks can be called extended.
Then, after that break, the PGA Tour heads west — way, way west to Hawaii — once the year ends.
The big-names aside, this is one of those events the up-and-comers or those looking to get back on Tour have circled on their calendar. A win here would set them up for two years of stress-free golf. At least when it comes to scheduling where they are going to play. The stress on the course will always be front and center.
But with a few more marquee names than normal now taking up more spots than usual (there’s that word again) in this event, some of those who were hoping for a spot this week will be out of luck.
As for this week, the big names (except Koepka) are likely already on cruise control. They’ve got their standings in order and have nothing to prove other than adding another victory to their totals. There won’t be as much grinding it out for those players if they fall behind early.
With that in mind, we’re picking Harris English ahead of the big guns. He’s been solid in the recent months and is coming off a T-6 at the RSM Classic. He was also T-4 here last year and, without a final-round stumble to a score of 70, was right in the mix. He opened with rounds of 65 and 64 so his comfort level is very high on this course.
Oh, did we forget to mention he won here in 2014 (when it was the OHL Classic at Mayakoba)? It was his second Tour victory in as many years. The only problem is he hasn’t won since.
We feel that’s about to change. With his recent success and his win on this course it might just be time for him to finally hoist another trophy. With guys like Stewart Cink and Charles Howell III having recently gotten back into the winner’s circle after years and years of futility, there’s no doubt English has to have taken notice of those wins.
We’re also looking at someone who’s been just a little under the radar despite having a victory on the PGA Tour early in his career. Viktor Hovland isn’t the favorite but we still like him to pick up that first full-field victory.
He’s won an off-event tournament (the Puerto Rico Open) and he’s also finished in the top 15 in his last three wraparound starts. He joined Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa in the winner’s circle early in their pro careers. There’s no reason not to believe Hovland won’t be in contention this week.
After this week we’ll take a little time off before we talk more about the big guns when we next tee it up from the Tournament of Champions starting the last week of December. In the meantime, have a great holiday season and we’ll see you in Maui. Aloha!