Table of Contents
By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
“OUT OF OFFICE” SEASON
As the calendar turns to November we’ve got just three more full-field PGA Tour before it’s the silly season, the holidays, and next thing you know, we’re in Hawaii to kick off 2023. I would contend that this part of the year moves faster than any, but I’m certain there are some hot PGA Tour players like Taylor Montgomery or last week’s winner Seamus Power that want it to slow down before the winter break. Hey, if the world’s best are logging couch time and practicing at home, might as well steal all the shine you can this fall if you’re a rookie, newbie or just trying to string one week into the next on Tour.
This week the tour heads to the gorgeous Mayakoba Resort, more commonly known as one of the 35769 all-inclusive beachfront resorts sitting beside the Gulf of Mexico outside of Cancun. Casual golf fans may remember this tournament as the event where Matt Kuchar famously cheated out his caddie El Tucan after winning a few years back here, only paying him $5000 of the six figures any caddie would typically take home for carrying the winning bag. Viktor Hovland successfully defended his 2020 title here last year.
DON’T GET LOST IN PARADISE, OR A CAVE
The “El Camaleon” Golf Club has a flair for the dramatic, and it’s a charming waterside course that has bright sand, hazards in play, and even a freakin’ CAVE BUNKER in the middle of the 7th fairway. That’s right, there’s an underground cave bunker built into the par 5’s fairway that makes for some interesting shots throughout the week.
Outside of that design quirk, the course’s primary defense is a wind whipping off the gulf. If the wind is down expect birdies galore and a winner at nearly 20 under par for the week. The moderately distanced 7000-yard par 72 is the first Latin American course to host a PGA Tour event and it’s become a mainstay, especially for Tour golfers (and their wives and kids) looking for a “working vacation” in November. Hovland is the name to watch as he goes for the three-peat but notably, Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau, and Collin Morikawa are also in the field.
FORECASTING THE WWT CHAMPIONSHIP
In past years we’ve seen winners at Mayakoba like Brian Gay, Matt Kuchar, Brenden Todd, and Graeme McDowell lift the trophy – all shorter hitters that trot their way around efficiently. This is for sure a course full of opportunity, so fairways and greens players tend to thrive. Viktor Hovland has mixed his driving with some power to claim the last TWO titles here, but it’s proven that length is not a necessity by any means to succeed here.
I’m prefacing my weekly picks based on exactly what I value the most. With every play I make, I’m always taking into account these factors and for the action in paradise at Mayakoba, I’m looking for consistent drivers who have the intangibles to win if the win kicked up – the same formula that got us the Seamus Power winner last week.
1. Who’s hot and trending – recent high finishes, top-10 streaks, and consistent play are never a bad thing.
2. Horses for courses – players love certain courses and course familiarity and experience are invaluable in a field of the world’s best.
3. What the numbers tell you this week – while I’m far from analytical, there’s always a tournament darling or two scattered across the golf talk stratosphere that stuns on paper.
4. Intangibles – while this allows for theater of the mind, there’s a mysterious optimism surrounding that feels “due” or if the price looks just right for buying.
At the Bermuda Championship, I had the POWER. I leaned in hard on Seamus Power and boy did he gut it out and get it done in style! Also had Patrick Rodgers finish 3rd, and even more notably my entire card finished in the top 35 this past week. There aren’t many of them to give out, but this card was absolutely an A, and don’t tell me otherwise.
THE SIX-PACK OF PICKS
(Wanna start a Pick-X pool with your friends? Learn more here! Or, if you’re looking to start your own PGA One-and-Done pool, check those out here) (Hint: the main difference between the two is how many players you’ll pick each week)
1: Viktor Hovland – Going for the three-peat, he can’t be left off any card this week. He’ll be lurking and it’s just a question if he can make history or not.
2: Maverick McNealy – T11 here last year and has shown on a couple of boards this fall. Possesses the right mix of consistency off the tee and poise to get it done here.
3: Taylor Montgomery – My guy is back from his week off, rested, and ready for another weekend and another big check. The newest ATM on the PGA Tour tees it up on the feels of four top-20 finishes in his rookie season.
4: Seamus Power – While this card appears chalky, sometimes you have to play the hits when they’re popular. Power also had a nice week here last year, who’s to say he won’t contend again?
5: Brenden Todd – Going back to the well of a past champ who always enjoys this course.
6: Hayden Buckley – A fresh-faced rookie on Tour that already has a top 10 under his belt, should surprise some with his play very soon.
RYP One and Done Pick: Viktor Hovland
Where to watch: Golf Channel and Peacock all weekend – margaritas, snorkeling, and resort life all should be on full display this week.
Why to watch: Mayakoba is a unique test in tropical resort golf, and it’s one of the last legit PGA Tour fields to tee it up in 2022.
What to eat: So many choices when you touch down in Mexico, but I’m going with fish tacos, guac, and mango margaritas.
Purse: $8.2 million
Winner’s Share: $1.47 million