The First Tee – Mayakoba Classic

Adam Daly
By Adam Daly November 5, 2018 21:53

The First Tee – Mayakoba Classic

The swing season heads to Mexico this week for the Mayakoba Classic at the El Camaleon Golf Club.

This Week


El Camaleon is a club that sits on the ocean, which means weather can have a big impact into how the course plays; heavy wind gusts can have a major impact – although the course is lined with trees, they’re spread out enough that the wind can still affect play. The event being played in November should help, but just as a warning, check the weather or FGI members check your email on Wednesday.

The course itself should be a relatively easy one, as it’s incredibly short and it has larger-than-average greens. Listed at just 6,987 yards as a par-71, this course rewards short and accurate golfers who can hit the fairway. The fairways here are very narrow, and surrounded by hazards; being a coastal course, that means sandy waste areas, jungle trees, and tough bunkers. Off the tee, golfers will typically club down given the shortness of the track, so hitting the fairways is relatively easy (~63% hit).

The par-5s here are obviously short at 554- (twice) and 532-yards, and should see a good number of eagles, but par-4 scoring will be the key as it’s a par-71. Only four of the par-4s play above 450 yards, but that includes holes of 451, 452 and 458.

There will be more emphasis on hitting the fairway and approach shots this week given how short the track is and how most of the field will club down. Anywhere from 125-175 yards out will be the key distance to look at this week, but the greens here are larger than average so most golfers should be able to hit them with ease (~67% GIR); consider instead looking at proximity from the 125-175 range.

The greens here are seashore paspalum, which is a very uncommon grass type but it’s comparable to bentgrass. There’s a ton of bunkers and dunes around the greens, so scrambling % will be a factor for the rare shots that miss the greens.


No ShotTracker information this week

The Strokes Gained stats to focus on in order (not including Tee to Green):

  • Approach
  • Off-The-Tee
  • Putting
  • Around the Green

Counting stats to focus on in order:

  • Par-4 Birdie or Better %
  • Driving Accuracy
  • Greens in Regulation %
  • Bogey Avoidance %
  • Scrambling %

Top-Tier Golfer

Tony Finau ($11000)

Pros: Everything that was a pro about Finau last week still applies: incredibly long off the tee, putting well (relative to how he used to putt), great on approach, etc. Finau missed the cut last time he played here, but he does have a T7 to his name and enters the week off strong form with a T36 at the Shriners and a solo second at the WGC.

Cons: His driving accuracy will be a concern at a course with narrow fairways, and his proximity to the hole from 175-and in is nothing to write home about. With the bunkers at El Camaleon, Finau’s poor play out of the sand could have a strong negative impact on the rare times the green gets missed. Still struggles on par-3s.


Sam Ryder ($8700)

Pros: Coming off a great start to the swing season, with a T4 at the Safeway, T43 at CIMB, and solo third last week at the Shriners. Ryder was second on tour last year in GIR% (72.08%) although he played relatively easier courses, and gained .399 strokes per round on approach, excelling from anywhere below 175 yards out. He’s short off the tee but accurate (21st), and scored well on both par-3s and par-4s.

Cons: Missed the cut here last year, and is just an awful putter. Last year he ranked 171st in SG: Putting, losing 0.349 strokes per round, and his play around the green isn’t anything to write home about either. His price point is a touch outrageous, but given his recent form it makes sense. His lack of distance could hurt on the par-5s, but they’re such short holes that he should be okay.

OTHER: Abraham Ancer ($8300)               


Value Golfer (below $8000)

Joel Dahmen ($6800):

Pros: For a dirt-cheap price, Dahmen offers tremendous value based on his play from tee to green: he ranks 35th in SG:T2G thanks to above-average play both from off the tee (46th) and on approach (37th). Dahmen is short but accurate (27th) which fits this course well, and he’s a very strong scorer on both par-4s and -5s.

Cons: His putting is suboptimal and he’s bad on par-3s and like most of the golfers in the First Tee this week, he struggles around the green as well. He’s on a marginally good run of four made cuts, but that includes two no-cut events.


Bud Cauley ($7200):

Pros: Before his poor 2018, Cauley was very strong from tee to green (27th) thanks to long play off the tee and an immaculate approach game. Cauley hit 67.38% of greens in regulation and had elite proximity from 50-125 yards out, and was a good-to-above average birdie maker. He’s better on par-4s and is coming off a T10 at the Shriners.

Cons: He’s missed the cut here the only two times he’s played it, and his stats from 2018 are understandably bad – he had 41 measured rounds before his accident, and only recently came back to play. If you cast 2018 aside, Cauley still struggles on the greens and when he misses greens he’s got some of the worst scores relative to par.

You can follow me on Twitter @adalyfrey and good luck this week!

Adam Daly
By Adam Daly November 5, 2018 21:53

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