Expert Picks for Mayakoba Classic
This is one of the unique occasions in the world of golf as the Tour brings two events to the menu. The World Golf Championships series opens their season with the Accenture Match Play Championship, inviting the game's elite to do battle in one-on-one competitions, organized in a bracket-style playoff similar to the college basketball tourney known as March Madness. While those top talents are engaged in Arizona, those without invite are open to participate in Riviera Maya, Mexico. This week's Mayakoba Golf Classic offers those without invite to the WGC event an opportunity to compete on the renowned links of El Camaleon, one of the most impressive courses you'll find outside of the States. Designed by the great Greg Norman, this course traverses three different landscapes common to this area of the world (including areas through jungle growth, tropical swamps typically defined as mangroves, and oceanfront beaches). In 2007 El Camaleon earned distinction as the first PGA host in Mexico and it has served the Tour ever since. Former champions include Fred Funk, Brian Gay, Mark Wilson, and Cameron Beckman. The field of competitors in Mexico for 2011 may be as competitive as we've seen in recent years. Several of the game's noteworthy talents have struggled over the past season and are fighting to rediscover their true potential. This event offers a unique opportunity to do just that, and more than a few are looking to take advantage.
Verplank hasn't been as active as we might like this season, but he has served the fantasy community well. He's been as consistent as any veteran on the Tour and this week's field should be vulnerable to his prowess.
Beckman is the defending champ and has shown well in early starts this season. He is as alluring as any golfer in the field, but serving as a repeat champ can be as difficult as any burden in the game. Beckman deserves respect regardless.
Jhonattan Vegas [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #76
Vegas has no history to speak of, but the Tour rookie has been the talk of the fantasy faithful. He's on fire and comes off another respectable outing at the Northern Trust Open. Against this field, Vegas should shine.
Jimmy Walker [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #17 - Not Entered
Walker may be the best-kept secret in the Mayakoba field, but we're blowing the whistle on his way to Mexico this week. The man comes off two stellar outings with a hand as hot as any in the field this week.
We left the 2010 season with plans to make de Jonge a regular on our scene in 2011; while he's fallen short of our early hopes, he showed a reversal of fortunes at Riviera last week. We are hoping to catch the wave early in Mexico.
Gay wrapped his hands around an oversized check at this event two years ago and it is hard to deny his place as one of the most talented competitors in this year's field. He has shown well in early starts this season, giving us faith.
Pettersson is one of the more accomplished golfers in this week's field, and his efforts through the early weeks of 2011 suggest he is going to compete for top finishes with regularity. He clearly has an edge over this week's field at Mayakoba.
Weekley has become a regular at this event and his talents for going long have served him well on the El Camaleon links. He could be as valuable as any golfer in the mix this week and we are ready to suggest you buy in.
When we review recent leaderboards, we find Stadler working as a golfer on the rise, coming off positive results at the Northern Trust Open with low rounds looming in the background. Add his history at this event and he becomes a top target.
Henry is one of few in this week's field with extensive experience at El Camaleon, and his record of performance over that time is consistent and impressive. Throw in the recent surge at the Northern Trust Open and we may have Henry ranked too low.
Sabbatini has become a regular at this event as his career continues to fall short of expectation, but we've seen enough golf from Sabbatini this season to know he has the game to put this field to shame. If he plays to his potential, he'll compete.
Charles Howell III [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #103
Had Howell III not fallen so hard in the face of competition last week at the Northern Trust, we would be more than willing to line him up on our own fantasy rosters. He's been a bit inconsistent of late, but he knows this course and his performances at El Camaleon have been strong.