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  1. Presidents Cup Insider: Abraham Ancer aiming for Presidents Cup momentum at Mayakoba Golf Classic
    PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – At 5 feet, 7 inches tall, Abraham Ancer is one of the shortest of the seven players representing Mexico at this week’s Mayakoba Golf Classic at El Camaleón Golf Club. RELATED: Woods announces U.S. captain's picks | Els announces International captain's picks That’s OK, though, because he’s casting the longest shadow. Ancer, 28, made history earlier this year when he was one of eight players to earn a spot on the International Presidents Cup Team, which will take on the U.S. at Royal Melbourne, Dec. 12-15. He is the first Mexican to make the International side. “It’s a big deal for a Mexican to be on that team,” said countryman Carlos Ortiz. “We’re all going to be watching.” That’s a sentiment shared by others, but Ancer, who last season finished 21st in the FedExCup, has been admittedly slow to let it sink in. He’s simply been too busy. “I know it’s big,” Ancer said at El Camaleón Golf Club, where he played a rain-delayed nine holes in the pro-am Wednesday. “I get so caught up in like just playing good every week. I’m just so focused when I’m doing that, kind of (need to) take a step back and really think this is something that’s never been done before, which I’m really proud of and I’m really excited. “Hopefully,” he added, “it helps get some kids to kind of get their eyes on golf a little bit more, and here in Mexico especially, help grow the game for sure.” Ancer opened plenty of eyes when he won the Australian Open by five shots almost exactly a year ago. The victory was at The Lakes in Sydney, and the next week saw him finish second (with Roberto Diaz) to winner Belgium at the ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup of Golf. Somehow, Ancer, who was born in South Texas but grew up in Reynosa, Mexico, had a knack for playing in Australia, a skill that presumably will come in handy at the Presidents Cup. “Abe is really great with controlling his ball flight … which you need down in Australia,” said Jason Day of Queensland, a captain’s pick on the International Team who last played Mayakoba in 2009 (T28). “That’s a good plus for him to go back to a country that he feels very comfortable in.” Ancer came into the new season telling himself that as the highest-ranked Mexican player, he had to play like it. But he missed the cut at the Safeway Open and Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. After more ho-hum finishes at THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES (T57) and ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP (T41), he decided to slow down and try and enjoy the game, after which came an encouraging T4 at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Now he comes to Mayakoba, where his best was a T9 two years ago, with one eye on making a good showing for the home crowd and one eye on the upcoming Presidents Cup. “I have a good relationship with all team members,” he said, when asked whom he’d like to play with at Royal Melbourne. “I’ve been doing practice rounds with Adam Scott, Jason Day, C.T. Pan. I haven’t played a lot with Louis (Oosthuizen). I have played a lot with (Marc) Leishman, Cameron Smith, so I feel I’ll be glad to play with any of them. I’ll enjoy and learn playing with them, and maybe they could learn something from me, and we’ll do a good teamwork.” And whom would he like to play in singles? The answer is ambitious, but not surprising. “I would like to play against Tiger,” Ancer said, “but the truth is that our objective is to do everything we can to win. Winning a match in the singles would be very special, so we need to try to get the Cup. … Obviously playing here and playing good this week will be a lot of help going in there with a lot of confidence, so I’m looking forward to do that.”
  2. A friendship ‘bigger than a video game’
    PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – A video game brought them together. Then golf did. Not quite a year after a chance encounter on “Call of Duty,” Harold Varner III finally met gamer pal Arturo at the Mayakoba Golf Classic on Tuesday. Carlos Ortiz, one of seven players representing Mexico here, and Preston Lyon, Varner’s childhood friend and agent – both of whom also know Arturo through the game – were also on site. They’ve spent hundreds, maybe thousands of hours together, but this was the first time they had met in person. “I can’t believe this is happening,” said Arturo, a 22-year-old college student from Mexico, smiling through his braces. He wore jeans and a red Tommy Hilfiger sweater and admitted to being too nervous to have slept much the night before. Varner, 29, giggled like a kid at Christmas. Ortiz, a married father of two whose gaming has taken a back seat to family time, grinned and shook his head at the improbability of it all. The PGA TOUR is full of golfers lending a hand, oftentimes prioritizing the human connection above even wins and losses. As Varner put it at the BMW Championship last summer, “What’s going to matter is how we affected the people in our community and who we reached out to.” He and Arturo hugged on the practice green at El Camaleon Golf Club on Tuesday. Then came Mexico’s Ortiz. They played the video game that afternoon, and Arturo caddied for Varner in the rain-delayed pro-am Wednesday. Oh, and he’s also staying with Varner all week. All parties remain amazed at how this developed. At the start of this year, Varner and Lyon, new to “Call of Duty,” in which gamers play on squads of four, joined Jake Buchanan, a professional baseball player and another friend from their hometown of Gastonia, North Carolina.   “We needed a fourth,” Lyon said, “and ended up with Arturo.” Buchanan got ejected due to a network error, and Lyon and Varner decided to leave the game but changed their minds when they realized the kid they’d been grouped with was very, very good. “I’ve played since 2012,” Arturo said with a shrug. “I was 14 or 15.” Arturo was intrigued by his new friends, even if they weren’t as good, and mentioned them to a bilingual gamer friend named Jorge Chávez, a 31-year-old loan processor in Phoenix, Arizona. “I got home, and they’d just signed off,” Chávez said in a phone interview. “Arturo said, ‘Hey, man, I just played with a group of guys.’ He thought they were baseball players.” Soon, they formed a new four-man team: Varner, Lyon, Chávez (who translated) and Arturo. “It evolved,” Lyon said. “Arturo kind of warmed up, he started trying to speak English, which – he speaks perfect English. I think he and Harold have a lot of similarities in the way they grew up. Both come from good parents, and maybe didn’t have as much but kept a positive mindset. Arturo is in school to be an engineer; he’s got goals just like Harold had goals.” Ortiz soon began to join in, and Arturo learned that he was playing with golfers, not baseball players. He asked if Ortiz and Varner were rich. Could they, for example, order anything they wanted at restaurants? They said they could … and then contemplated the nature of the question. Sensing Arturo’s tenuous financial situation, they bought Arturo new gaming equipment and sent it to him, which was far more of a logistical challenge than a financial one. The relationship deepened in April, when on Arturo’s 22nd birthday his father had a heart attack. The youngest of four, Arturo went to the hospital to be with his dad, and temporarily withdrew from the game. For a few days, his gaming friends didn’t know where he’d gone. And then they did. “On the second day in the hospital, Harold instant-messaged me,” Arturo said. “‘Hey, bro, you good?’ I said, ‘No, I’m good.’ Because I thought I was. I never thought  …” His father spent five days in intensive care before dying at 59. “It was heartbreaking,” Lyon said. “It was tough to see it all go down.” Then, a further complication: Due to a mistake on the death certificate, his father being listed as single, Arturo’s mother couldn’t be transferred vital pension money. He asked Lyon for permission to sell the new gaming equipment to pay for funeral expenses. Lyon said not to do that and sent $800, enough to for Arturo’s family to get by while the paperwork was sorted out. “It became the thing to do right now; who cares if we’ve never seen him?” Lyon said. “That’s the way Harold is; it’s easy to do things like this and impact people. That’s how we grew up. It became a little bit bigger than ourselves; bigger than a video game. It circled back to humanity.” They made plans to meet at Mayakoba, where Arturo, who is beyond grateful, gave the golfers a gift of foods and other items from his hometown. They also gave each other the needle, like they do when they’re wearing headsets and playing the game. Arturo razzed Ortiz for never being able to play now that he has two kids; Varner jokingly complained that school is taking too much of Arturo’s time; Arturo playfully noted Varner’s physique (stout) and hairline (receding). “It’s hard to believe this,” Arturo said. “Because from one match playing with Harold, I am here. I’m a guy who was playing ‘Call of Duty.’ Now I’m here. I love Harold.” He pronounces it “Gerald,” and sometimes searches for the right words in English, but he’s made big strides at learning the language. He’s in his second year of college and aims to go to work for his family just as soon as he completes his architectural engineering degree. Ortiz’s father, who has a construction business, has said he’ll help him get a job right now. “Everyone is like, ‘If you come from here, you have this much percentage chance of making it,’” Varner said. “I don’t care what your percentage is; I just want to give you a chance.”     He, Lyon and Ortiz continue to help Arturo any way they can, even funding his nominal gaming dues (as low as $35 to re-up), which would not be quite so nominal for him. “I think we’ve learned more about life from him,” Ortiz said, “than he has from us. We want to help him. We want to see him grow.” Added Varner, “What’s cool is whenever he makes it, he’s gonna help someone else.” More than striving for trophies, that’s just the Varner way. You might even say it’s his call of duty.
  3. Quick look at the Mayakoba Golf Classic
    A celebration of Mexican culture and golf comes together in a beautiful part of the world as the fall portion of the FedExCup gets closer to the end. Rookies are chasing vital reshuffle positions … veterans are looking for valuable FedExCup points before the holiday break … and everyone is looking to have a great time in Playa Del Carmen … even the spider monkeys! Welcome to the Mayakoba Golf Classic. RELATED: Tee times |  Power Rankings | Daily fantasy preview THE FLYOVER As players finish the closing stretch at El Camaleón Golf Club they come to the 458-yard par-4 18th. Strategic bunkering means they better keep their focus on the game and not the Mayan style clubhouse in the background that provides quite the picture. Last season the final hole played to a 4.084 stroke average meaning if someone needs a closing par to win the tournament it will not be a snack. WEATHER CHECK From PGA TOUR meteorologist Joe Halvorson: “A front draped across the Yucatán Peninsula will remain stalled to our west through Friday. Out ahead of this boundary expect periods of rain to become likely, with scattered thunderstorms additionally possible. Rain will be heavy at times due to very high moisture values in place. Though rain and storms will be possible at any time ahead of this boundary, expect precipitation/storm chances to peak during the afternoon and evening hours each day. The cold front will finally push southeast of the area Saturday morning, ushering in considerably drier air for the weekend. Showers will remain possible Saturday morning, with dry conditions anticipated for Saturday afternoon and throughout the day on Sunday.”  SOUND CHECK Really excited to come back home and play in front of my people. This is one of my favorite weeks all year, very special. I love playing in front of my family and friends. BY THE NUMBERS 7 – Number of players representing Mexico in the field led by Presidents Cup representative Abraham Ancer. He is joined by Efren Serna Jr., Sebastian Vazquez, Carlos Ortiz, Alvaro Ortiz, Roberto Diaz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Mexican-born Kristoffer Ventura, who represents Norway, is also in the field. 6 – Number of miles of freshwater canals surrounded by mangroves and birds – and spider monkeys – that connect the four exclusive resorts and residences around the El Camaleón golf course. 5 – Number of the winners so far this season in the field: Joaquin Niemann (A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier), Sebastián Muñoz (Sanderson Farms Championship), Cameron Champ (Safeway Open), Lanto Griffin (Houston Open) and Brendon Todd (Bermuda Championship) are all looking to keep up their strong form. Six of the eight winners in the fall portion of the 2018-19 PGA TOUR Regular Season qualified for the 2019 TOUR Championship. 30 – Number of yards added to El Camaleón Golf Club this season. It will now play 7,017 yards with the par-4 16th hole lengthened to 515 yards. SCATTERSHOTS Chris Kirk returns to competition after taking time off to deal with alcohol addiction. The four-time PGA TOUR winner last played in April before walking away to remedy his situation. Read about his incredible journey here. Defending champion Matt Kuchar is making his first start of the 2019-20 PGA TOUR season. He will look to successfully defend a title on TOUR for the first time in his career. This will be his fifth appearance at the Mayakoba Golf Classic (Won: 2018, T68: 2015, T3: 2008, T18: 2007). Last season he went bogey-free on the front nine in all four rounds on the way to victory. Kuchar is one of just nine players who has advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs all 13 seasons. Harold Varner III wants nothing more than to win his first PGA TOUR event. But he realizes there is more to life than golf and winning takes many shapes and forms. This week Varner III is already a winner thanks to this story about his connection with a young Mexican man garnered over a video game.  FedExCup leader Lanto Griffin looks to extend his 24-point lead over Rory McIlroy and seeks to overtake RSM Birdies Fore Love leader Sungjae Im who is not in the field. The RSM Birdies Fore Love program awards the player with the most birdies (or better) during the Mayakoba Golf Classic a $50,000 donation to his charity of choice. The top three players who accumulate the most birdies (or better) in the fall, beginning with A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier and concluding with The RSM Classic, will be awarded $300,000, $150,000 and $50,000, respectively, for charitable donations to children and/or family-focused organizations of the player’s choice. Im sits atop the standings with 115 birdies, three more than Griffin (112). Denny McCarthy, with 104 birdies, is the next-closest challenger in the field. Speaking of love, Davis Love III, the 55-year-old PGA TOUR Life Member and World Golf Hall of Fame member with 21 TOUR titles, will play his 769th PGA TOUR event, fourth-most all time (803: Mark Brooks, 799: Jay Haas, 784: Dave Eichelberger). Chris Stroud is the only player in the field who has competed in all 12 editions of the Mayakoba Golf Classic. He has eight made cuts and four top-15 finishes, plus a withdrawal after an opening-round 70 in 2018. Had consecutive top-five finishes in 2011 (4th), 2012 (T5) and 2013 (T3).
  4. Tyler McCumber's passion for finding the perfect wave
    Forget the set of cut-down golf clubs. And don’t expect to hear tales of a pint-sized Tyler McCumber tagging along every day as his father Mark, a 10-time winner on the PGA TOUR, hit balls on the practice range at TPC Sawgrass. The beach was Tyler’s happy place when he was a kid, and truth be told, it still is. The PGA TOUR rookie started surfing when he was five or six, first learning to stand up on a boogie board and now riding waves in such far-flung places as Australia, Peru, Portugal and Barbados. “I just fell in love with the ocean,” Tyler says simply. “It became my favorite hobby. I wish I could have made a career out of it, but that wasn't going to happen.” Tyler had two older sisters whose boyfriends at the time surfed, so he was exposed to the culture at a young age. A babysitter actually taught him to surf, and by the time he was around eight or nine, Tyler was paddling out to catch a set of waves just like other enthusiasts more than twice his age. By the time he was a teenager, though, Tyler had also started playing golf. He’s come a long way from the all-star baseball player who used to hit the golf ball with no backswing, too. Tyler played at Florida, twice earning honorable mention All-America recognition. He won three times on PGA TOUR LatinoAmerica and then three more times on the MacKenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada when he was named the 2018 Player of the Year. He earned his TOUR card for the 2019-20 season when he finished 22nd on the Korn Ferry Tour points list. But Tyler still loves to surf. The 28-year-old had actually planned a bucket list trip to Indonesia during what he thought was going to be a gap in the TOUR’s fall schedule. But when the fall lineup included three more events than the previous year – with those all-important FedExCup points on offer, he knew he had to choose business over pleasure. “It's pretty much the quintessential trip for a surfer,” Tyler says wistfully. “You know, the once in a lifetime opportunity, unless you're obviously professional, you'd probably go there quite a bit. … “It takes forever to get there, almost a day and a half. You're flying multiple places and then taking a boat to an island and then you're on this boat for 10 days. You’re catered, eating fish and surfing perfect waves and it's cool and it's world-class. “It's like taking a guy’s, you know, a group trip to go play St. Andrews or go play Augusta. It's just as good as it gets.” Tyler has surfed the Soup Bowl – which legendary Kelly Slater, who is also an avid golfer, has called one of his top three waves in the world -- on the eastern coast of Barbados. Three winters ago, he hitch-hiked the south coast of New Zealand with his surfboard in tow. And he absolutely loves the North Shore of Kauai. “The waves have so much power,” Tyler says. “It's definitely the biggest, most respectable surf that I've been in. You know, you really have to respect the ocean out there and be, in my opinion, an above, a way above average, water man.  .... You really have to learn the ocean in the art of sort of where the tides are and in where all the water's going in and using it to your favor, but also, you know, staying safe. … “So, it takes really a lifetime of learning. It's like playing golf, you know, you just kind of feel it and respect it, because it'll really slap you around if you don't.” Speaking of staying safe, Tyler – a classic adrenaline junkie who has also gone skydiving and BMX trail riding – did tear the labrum in his shoulder surfing in Hawaii three years ago, missing seven months of golf. But after surfing for more than two decades, he feels like he understands the sport and doesn’t take undo chances. “Knock on wood, but you know, you sort of learn how to fall and I feel like for the, for the rush, like the adrenaline rush is probably the least dangerous sport,” Tyler says. “Not when you get to surfing crazy stuff … you know, over in Hawaii and all. But for the most part, you know, like a solid wave you can have a lot of fun on and it's minimal, somewhat minimal risks.” So, which is better – surfing or playing golf? Well, Tyler, who once rated himself a 5 or 6 handicap on the waves, says both sports serve a different purpose in his life and as a result, comparing the two is difficult. “They both give you a little bit of a rush, but one's definitely a hobby and one as a profession,” Tyler explains.  “… But if I had to do one for the rest of my life, I’d pick surfing. Then he paused and added “if I couldn't make money playing golf.”
  5. Horses for Courses: Mayakoba Golf Classic
    If the choices are windburn or sunburn, this is an easy one! As most of the country is freezing early this week, the TOUR players will be scrambling for sunscreen and beach towels at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Horses for Courses will ride again this week as the 13th edition will take place at the exact location of the first 12. Greg Norman's El Camaleon track will host a field of 132 as this is the penultimate chance to move up the FedExCup standings in 2019. El Camaleon, as the name would suggest, changes shape as it winds through jungle, beach and quarry, but is ultimately a resort track. Playing a par-71 just over 7,000 yards, the highest winning score since moving to the November date in 2013 is 17-under, plus the tournament record has been equaled or broken in half of the six outings since. Only one of the last six winners have found the top 10 in driving accuracy, five of the last six have hit the top 11 in GIR. The large Sea Isle Paspalum greens provide an excellent attacking target from either the fairway or the light rough. The tiered layouts will keep the Stimpmeter at normal speeds, so expect to see plenty of aggressive approaches with both irons and putters. RELATED: Power Rankings | Daily fantasy advice | Sleeper picks This is a scoring track, as three of the last four champs have led the field in birdies, while rounds above par for the top finishers are the clear exception to any rules. With four of the last five victors 36 or older, it's obvious that a bit of strategy, patience and execution will come in handy this week. But, I'd remember there has never been a champ who defends or a multiple winner over the years, as is usually the case at a shootout. The winner takes home $1.296 million (500 FedExCup points) of the $7.2 million purse. Recent Winners 2018: Matt Kuchar (-22, 262) Set 36 and 54-hole scoring marks as the 40-year old went wire-to-wire after sharing the first round lead. ... 26 birdies co-led the field. ... Five of the last six winners T7 or better in bogey avoidance (T1). Notables: Danny Lee (2nd) posted four rounds of 67 or better and was second by a shot. ... J.J. Spaun and Richy Werenski shared third. ... Cameron Champ and Scott Piercy joined Harold Varner III as the only three players to shoot 62 and not win the event. ... Perfect weather saw the cut land on 4 under and the top 40 were 10-under or better. ... There were THREE rounds above par in the top 37. 2017: Patton Kizzire (-19, 265) Opened with 62 and led or co-led the rest of the way. ... At 31, he's the youngest of the last five winners. ... Opened with 62 in his just his fifth round here (T58, 2016). ... Entered the week on back-to-back top-10 paydays. ... Co-led the field in birdies with 25. ... Played in the final group with Rickie Fowler (DNS) and won for the first time on TOUR. Notables: Si Woo Kim (3rd), Charles Howell III (T4) and Scott Brown (T6) are all in the field this week. ... Kizzire's 25 birdies were three more than Danny Lee and Russell Knox. ... Final two rounds were lift, clean and replace after heavy weather. 2016: Pat Perez (-21, 263) Perez closed 62-67 to win over 54-hole record setter Gary Woodland. ... Another year of perfect weather and another 40-year old winner. ... T1 bogey avoidance and T2 Par-4 scoring saw him tie the tournament scoring record. Notables: The top 24 players all made 20 or more birdies, led by Scott Piercy and Kevin Streelman (26). ... Chris Kirk led after 18 holes (63) and is back in action this week. ... Chez Reavie posted 63 in Round 3. ... John Huh (WD) and Harris English are the only two winners in their 20s. ... Fred Funk won the inaugural event at 50 in 2007. Key stat leaders Top golfers in each statistic on the 2018-19 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week. Mayakoba Golf Classic does NOT use laser measurements.  * - previous top 10 finish here Rounds in the 60s  2  *Charles Howell III  3  Vaughn Taylor  4  *Rory Sabbatini (T3, 2014)  7  *Chez Reavie (T4, 2017)  9  Wyndham Clark  9  J.T. Poston 11 Denny McCarthy 11 *Tony Finau (T7, 2015) 14 *Harris English (WIN, 2013) 14 *Abraham Ancer (T9, 2019) 14 Joaquin Niemann 14 *Scott Piercy 20 Sebastian Munoz 22 *Matt Kuchar Greens in Regulation  5  Jason Dufner  7  *Charles Howell III 10 *Scott Piercy 12 Martin Laird 14 Cameron Tringale 15 Brendan Steele 16 Shawn Stefani (2, 2015) 17 Jason Day 17 *Kevin Streelman 19 *Brice Garnett 20 Sepp Straka 22 *Cameron Champ (T10, 2018) 26 Hank Lebioda 28 Nick Watney 28 Jhonattan Vegas Scrambling  4  Aaron Baddeley  6  Matt Jones  9  Denny McCarthy  9  *Brian Stuard 17 *Scott Piercy 18 *Rory Sabbatini 19 Ryan Armour 20 C.T. Pan 22 *Si Woo Kim 26 *Matt Kuchar All-Inclusive Pat Perez: He's won, cashed T34 and collected T6 last year in his last three. Of his last 11 rounds, nine are 67 or better, including all four last year. Russell Knox: Of his 24 career rounds here, 21 are par or better and the last 16 are in the red. Another top-10 result this year will make it four consecutive visits to the big bucks. He lost in a playoff to Graeme McDowell in 2015, followed that up with solo third and was T9 in his return last year. Charles Howell: I was physically ill when he MC last year and he did so on level par. T17 or better with three top-10 checks in six of his last eight. Automatic. Scott Piercy: He's 44-under in his last three trips and the last two have paid T4 (2016) and T6 (2018).  Upgraded Danny Lee: Posted 21 under - this would have won or gotten into a playoff in all previous 11 events here - to finish second last year. T25 in 2017 and another podium, T3 in 2014 shows he's more than comfortable here. He's made 47 birdies over his last two trips. Brice Garnett: He's 51 under his last four times here with three top-10s and a T25 to show for his trouble. Also won on Paspalum at Punta Cana in the spring of 2018. Emiliano Grillo: Let's not over-think this one. He's 40 under the last and only three years he's played and has cashed T10, T9 and 15th over that span. Of his 12 rounds, 11 are in the 60s. Harold Varner III: In three trips, he's left with T5 and T6 money, but the meat in that sandwich is MC. One of the members of "Club 62". Wait, What? J.J. Spaun: Gamers love a trend and Spaun qualifies here (T28-T14-T3) the last three years. He's posted one top-25 result on TOUR since T3 in 2018.
  6. Fantasy Insider: Mayakoba Golf Classic
    Perhaps you saw my tweet. That's right. As of about a week ago, tournament-specific rankings for all applicable statistics have been added to This is the first extensive release of stats since the injection of all of the granular data you've reviewed and used for a few years. For the excessively nerdy – raises hand – just wait until ShotLink Plus is unveiled. All right now. Gotta get your feet back on the ground, head back in the game and nose back in the books. After a rare week off, the PGA TOUR season resumes with the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Both it and The RSM Classic next week are full-field events with a 36-hole cut of low 65 and ties. (Used to that new snip yet?) ShotLink is not used at El Camaleón Golf Club at the Mayakoba Resort, but the Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort will measure every stroke. However, because the Plantation Course, which co-hosts the first two rounds, is not lasered, ShotLink data from Seaside only will not be used in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf. All multiple-course tournaments are treated equally this way. To determine for which tournaments ShotLink data will not contribute to fantasy scoring, scroll to Appendix A on How to Play of the landing page. RELATED: Power Rankings | Daily fantasy advice PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf My roster for the Mayakoba Golf Classic (in alphabetical order): Tony Finau Brian Gay Billy Horschel Charles Howell III Russell Knox Denny McCarthy You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks. Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order): Scoring: Cameron Champ; Lanto Griffin; Si Woo Kim; Rory Sabbatini; Scottie Scheffler; J.J. Spaun; Vaughn Taylor; Aaron Wise Driving: n/a Power Rankings Wild Card Jason Day … This is becoming a popular spot in my preview material for the Aussie who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Tuesday of this week. So much for a hopeful boost in form after winning the MGM Resorts The Challenge. Nope, or at least not yet. He preceded it with a T31 in South Korea and chased it with a T22 at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP. Good, not great. We expect better, especially at his price in DFS. Draws Joaquin Niemann … A gimme and no doubt will be owned considerably, but the Presidents Cup captain's pick has just one top-30 in four starts since breaking through at Greenbrier. Default to the strategy of your game, both in format and how you think your opposition will play it. Cameron Champ … This is his first start since the passing of his grandfather, Mack. That's fact over friction as it concerns anything quantifiable, but the closure, peace and focus that the life experience yields should inspire the recent winner of the Safeway Open. It also doesn't hurt that he placed T10 here last year with a career-best 62 in the second round. Aaron Wise … Fresh off a T3 in Bermuda where he ranked T5 in both total driving and greens hit. Finished T10 at Mayakoba last year by leading the field in putts per GIR and putting: birdies-or-better. Also ranked T2 in par-3 scoring for the week. Rory Sabbatini … Now 43 years of age, he's back in the spotlight as a threat at El Camaleón where he's 6-for-8 with a pair of top-fives, although it's been six years since the more recent. Rather, his consistently strong form over time and balanced attack elevates him into above-average value in DFS. Brian Stuard … The two-time runner-up at Mayakoba (2010, 2013) also placed T9 just two years ago. Arrives having cashed in his last five starts, two of which for a top-20. Among the most precise off the tee on TOUR. Vaughn Taylor … He's a better putter than he is a ball-striker, but it hasn't mattered here. He's perfect in six trips to Mayakoba and continues to contribute almost every time he plays. Only one missed cut in his last 14 starts of which 11 included a cut. Red meat for DFSers. Scott Harrington … He's not a veteran, at least on the PGA TOUR, but the rookie is a talent of a certain age. He'll turn 39 on Saturday. He's also best with his irons and already has posted three top-25s this season, including a T2 in Houston. Doc Redman … At just 21 years of age, he's not a veteran, but he can strike his ball. That he's a first-timer isn't a big deal, either. John Huh (2012) and Harris English (2013) were tournament debutants when they prevailed here. Redman also is 5-for-6 on the season with a pair of top-25s. Scott Brown … Although he's in a slump, he gets enough of the benefit of the doubt because he's proven it so much over the years. Give him tropical climes and he's money. Since 2013 at Mayakoba, he's 6-for-6 with two top-10s and a T16 contributing. Rafael Campos Dylan Frittelli Russell Henley Si Woo Kim Pat Perez J.T. Poston Chez Reavie Xinjun Zhang Fades Brendon Todd … He put on a clinic in Bermuda in his return to the winner's circle, but gamers need to see it again before we're going to consider him in for short-range investment. Indeed, he was earning our attention at times as he clawed his way back to the PGA TOUR, and the victory was nothing short of remarkable. It still feels surreal. He's also failed to make any noise in three previous appearances at Mayakoba. Kevin Kisner … I don't care about his pair of missed cuts and a T60 (2013) in his first three trips to Mayakoba because he still hadn't found traction with his career at the time. However, he missed last year's cut with poor ball-striking. Yes, he was dusting off the rust after a two-month break at the time and he fared well in the long-term tee to green last season, but he tilts toward trap status. Just wait until he pegs it at The RSM Classic. Emiliano Grillo … Speaking of traps, he's presented on a silver platter, albeit tarnished. While he's finished a respective T10, T9 and 15th in the last three editions at Mayakoba (his only appearances to boot), he can't get out of his own way on the greens. The positive spin is that his ball-striking is rewarded this week, but he's done nothing to give reason to the notion that his frustration with the putter is a thing of the past. Charley Hoffman … He's 0-for-4 at Mayakoba since winning the tournament in 2014. Say what you want about extreme coincidences for a guy who's been reliable often and elsewhere, but that's a trend no matter how you define it. Patton Kizzire … The breakthrough champ in 2017 has missed 16 cuts this year. Given our absence of confidence, nothing else matters until he displays some consistency on the other side of the spectrum. Kyle Stanley … As a talent who has profiled as a tee-to-green machine over the years, that he's just 2-for-5 with one top-55 finish at Mayakoba (T13, 2011) is a red flag. Brian Harman … The lefty has been a poster boy of great putters, so it's not surprising that he's without a top-25 at Mayakoba in six tries. Worst yet, his best showing in this last five was but a T40 in 2015. Scott Stallings … Coming off a T18 in Bermuda, but he's 0-for-4 at Mayakoba and hasn't appeared since 2016. Harry Higgs … Small sample sizes as they are, he finished second in Bermuda on the strength of his short game and putting. I'm bullish in the long-term, but allow his debut at El Camaleón to prove that I also should be in the short-term. Wyndham Clark … Best known for his muscle and putting, it's no wonder why he's 0-for-2 at Mayakoba. He's also scuffled in the last three months with a T8 in South Korea as his only impressive outing. Aaron Baddeley Kevin Chappell Keith Mitchell Robert Streb Returning to Competition Graeme McDowell … The 2015 champ called it quits before his second round of the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP after opening with an 81 three weeks ago. An explanation wasn't released. It was a disappointing turn of events what with a pair of top-20s immediately prior. Because of his success at El Camaleón, he won't glide under the radar, but the WD in his last start could scare your opposition. In that void, pounce. Chris Kirk … The 34-year-old couldn't have picked a better spot for a playing retreat to get back inside the ropes than Mayakoba Resort. He took six months off for treatment of anxiety and depression that he was self-medicating with alcohol. Armed with 11 starts on a Major Medical Extension to collect 280.392 FedExCup points and retain status, merely connecting with the competitive juices again is important, but that rides in the backseat to the invaluable in-person support that he'll receive until developing a routine. Ian Poulter … He withdrew at the midpoint of the WGC-HSBC Champions due to discomfort caused by a cyst in his wrist. After having it drained in Orlando, he's back in action at this week's Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa. Currently 24th in the Race to Dubai entering the penultimate event of the European Tour season. Notable WDs Rickie Fowler … He wasn't in the field when it published on Friday, but he was scheduled to play until a bacterial infection contracted during his honeymoon forced him to change his plans. Anirban Lahiri … Also withdrew prior to the third round of the Bermuda Championship due to an injury related to a rib. If you engage in any earnings-based format, remember that what he received for making the cut in Bermuda is unofficial, last-place money, so it will not be reflected in his earnings for the season. John Huh … This will mark the first time he's been unable to compete at El Camaleón since his breakthrough victory as a rookie in 2012. Eleven starts remaining on his Major Medical Extension. Power Rankings Recap – World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions Power Ranking  Golfer  Result 1  Rory McIlroy  Win 2  Hideki Matsuyama  T11 3  Xander Schauffele  2nd 4  Justin Rose  T28 5  Billy Horschel  T24 6  Tony Finau  T53 7  Adam Scott  T11 8  Paul Casey  T38 9  Tyrrell Hatton  T14 10  Ian Poulter  WD 11  Patrick Reed  T8 12  Sungjae Im  T11 13  Tommy Fleetwood  T53 14  Matt Wallace  T60 15  Bernd Wiesberger  T49 16  Byeong Hun An  T14 17  Henrik Stenson  T20 18  Corey Conners  T20 19  Keegan Bradley  T24 20  Charles Howell III  T36 Wild Card  Cameron Smith  T60 Sleepers Recap – World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions Golfer  Result Michael Lorenzo-Vera  T38 Joost Luiten  T34 Robert MacIntyre  T17 Andrea Pavan  T49 Erik van Rooyen  T38 Power Rankings Recap – Bermuda Championship Power Ranking  Golfer  Result 1  Denny McCarthy  T15 2  Doc Redman  T35 3  Scottie Scheffler  T3 4  Mark Hubbard  T41 5  Lanto Griffin  T18 6  Brian Stuard  T51 7  Brian Gay  T3 8  Alex Noren  T15 9  Scott Harrington  T53 10  Cameron Percy  T48 Other to Consider Recap – Bermuda Championship Golfer  Result Ryan Armour  T8 Rafael Campos  T18 Maverick McNealy  T35 Birthdays among active golfers on the PGA TOUR November 12 … Lucas Glover (40); Chez Reavie (38); Jason Day (32); C.T. Pan (28) November 13 … none November 14 … Talor Gooch (28) November 15 … none November 16 … Scott Harrington (39) November 17 … none November 18 … none
  7. Expert Picks: Mayakoba Golf Classic
    How it works: Each week, our experts from PGATOUR.COM will make their selections in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf. Each lineup consists of four starters and two bench players that can be rotated after each round. Adding to the challenge is that every golfer can be used only three times per each of four Segments. The first fantasy golf game to utilize live ShotLink data, PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf allows you to see scores update live during competition. Aside from the experts below, Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton breaks down the field at this year's Mayakoba Golf Classic in his edition of the Power Rankings. For more fantasy, check out Sleepers, Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers and Reshuffle. THINK YOU'RE BETTER THAN OUR EXPERTS? The PGA TOUR Experts league is once again open to the public. You can play our free fantasy game and see how you measure up against our experts below. Joining the league is simple. Just click here to sign up or log in. Once you create your team, click the "Leagues" tab and search for "PGA TOUR Experts." After that? Pick your players and start talking smack. Want to represent the fans against our experts? SEASON SEGMENT
  8. Monday Qualifiers: Mayakoba Golf Classic
    A quick look at the four Monday qualifiers for this week’s Mayakoba Golf Classic. The qualifier was held at Iberostar Playa Paraíso Golf Course in Playa Del Carmen. (Note: Monday’s score in parentheses): BEN SILVERMAN (64) Age: 31 Hometown: Thornhill, Ontario, Canada Alma mater: Johnson & Wales University; Florida Atlantic University PGA TOUR starts: 53 Cuts made: 28 Best finish: T7 Sanderson Farms Championship 2017-18. Notes: Played the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons on the PGA TOUR finishing 136th and 181st in the FedExCup respectively… This is first start of this season after failing to keep card via Korn Ferry Tour Finals… Has one Korn Ferry Tour win – the 2017 Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper… Was a great ice hockey player as a kid and didn’t really take golf seriously until he was 16 where he shot 118 in his first Canadian Junior Golf Association tournament… Has two top-10s on the PGA TOUR from the 2017-18 season at the Sanderson Farms Championship (T7) and The RSM Classic (T8)… Missed cut in only previous Mayakoba Golf Classic start (2017-18). JIMMY STANGER (65) Age: 24 Hometown: Tampa, Florida Alma mater: University of Virginia PGA TOUR starts: 4 Cuts made: 1 Best finish: T41, 2017-18 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Notes: Played 22 events on Korn Ferry Tour last season with three top-10s including a third place finish at the LECOM Suncoast Classic… Marks his golf ball with the initials, H.A. in memory of his best friend growing up, Harris Armstrong, who died of spinal cord cancer when he was 12… 2017 U.S. Palmer Cup team member… Won 2017 ACC individual championship… First player in University of Virginia history to earn first-team All-America honors… 2010 FL Boys Junior Champion, AJGA All-American, Wyndham Cup, Tampa Bay Times Player of the Year in high school. EFREN SERNA JR. (67) Hometown: Mexico PGA TOUR starts: 2 Cuts made: 0 Best finish: MC, 2014-15 and 2011 Mayakoba Golf Classics. Notes: Mexican national earning his third start at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, his first in five years… Advanced out of qualifying via a 3 for 2 playoff on the third extra hole… Has just one result in the last two years counting towards a world ranking of 2,068 – a MC at the 2018 San Luis Championship on PGA TOUR LatinoAmerica… Has 10 career starts on the Korn Ferry Tour with three cuts made, including a third place finish in the 2010 Mexico Open... His older brother Oscar has played the Mayakoba Golf Classic twice, as has his father, Efren, Sr.  TYLER McCUMBER (67) Age: 28 Hometown: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida Alma mater: University of Florida PGA TOUR starts: 7 Best Finish: T19 – Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship (2018). Notes: Survived a 3 for 2 playoff to get his spot – taking the final spot on the fourth playoff hole over Braden Thornberry… Son of Mark McCumber a 10-time PGA TOUR winner and 1988 PLAYERS Champion… Ranked 324th in the world… In his rookie season on the PGA TOUR after finishing 22nd on the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season points list last season and ending up 46th in the final priority ranking… Has four of five cuts made this season with best finish of T28 at the Houston Open to be 139th in the FedExCup standings… Three-time winner on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada in 2018… Three-time winner on PGA TOUR LatinoAmerica (2014-2016).
  9. Tournament host Tiger Woods to play in 2020 Genesis Invitational
    Tiger Woods has officially committed to play The Genesis Invitational in 2020 – the first year of the tournament under its new elevated status honoring the 82-time PGA TOUR winner. Woods is the tournament host for the Feb. 10-16 event at The Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, site of his very first PGA TOUR start in 1992 as a 16-year-old. The longstanding tournament is now an invitational and will boast an elite 120-man field. Winners will be afforded a three-year exemption on the PGA TOUR in line with the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard and the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide that is hosted by Jack Nicklaus. “It’s an honor for us to be in the same category as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer,” Woods said. “Those are two legends of the game. For us to have this type of elevation, all the things we want to have happen for the tournament are going to happen. On top of that, to be able to host the tournament each and every year at Riviera, where it all started for me, it’s come full circle.” With just one PGA TOUR start expected before The Genesis Invitational – at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines – it is possible Woods will be pushing to hold the all-time win record on the PGA TOUR alone. He recently joined Sam Snead at 82 with his victory at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP in Japan. The current Masters champion has played the event 13 times without a victory, one of the few places where wins have eluded him. The soon to be 44-year-old has four top-10s including runner up results in 1998 and 1999 at the iconic Los Angeles course. Last season Woods placed T15, his best result at Riviera in 14 years. In addition to his on-course success, the elevated status of The Genesis Invitational will celebrate Woods’ TGR Foundation, which provides award-winning STEM curricula, college-access programs, a digital platform and educator professional development, and has reached more than one million students.  In recognition of Woods’ debut at Riviera and the elevation of The Genesis Invitational, ticket prices for the 2020 tournament start at $19.92. Tickets, including hospitality and preferred parking passes, can be purchased online at  In an effort to expand access to and interest in the game of golf, The Genesis Invitational is pleased to once again provide complimentary grounds tickets for youth 15 and under. Youth tickets are available at the box office when accompanied by a ticketed adult. College and high school students are eligible to purchase grounds tickets at a discounted price at the box office with a valid student ID. Complimentary grounds tickets are available for all active, retired, reserve and National Guard military members at the box office. Additionally, all veterans will receive a 50-percent discount on grounds tickets when purchasing in advance with a valid ID.
  10. Free agent no longer: Dufner signs equipment deal with Cobra Golf
    Five-time PGA TOUR winner Jason Dufner, who has been an equipment free agent since 2018, has signed a multi-year partnership with Cobra ahead of the 2019 Mayakoba Golf Classic. For those who keep up with equipment, this news may not come as a shock. Dufner played a Cobra King F9 Speedback driver throughout much of 2019, and he also switched into a mixed set of Cobra King irons and King wedges later in the year. Now that it’s official, Dufner joins fellow PGA TOUR pros Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau on Cobra’s staff. “I couldn’t be more excited to join the Cobra team,” Dufner said in a press release. “The success of Rickie and Bryson over the past few years with Cobra equipment certainly piqued my interest in the brand. When I tested their products, I was impressed by the improvement in my numbers across the board and by the look and feel of their equipment. I had been testing a variety of products over the past year, and Cobra has proven to be the best for me.” Dufner, winner of the 2013 PGA Championship, has garnered a huge fan following due to his sense of humor and happy-go-lucky attitude, and his entertaining social media posts. Also, as PGATOUR.COM learned in a recent Q&A, Dufner is very in-tune with his equipment. It seems that Cobra has recognized those qualities, as well. “At Cobra, our goal is to align with the best athletes and ambassadors who are not only talented golfers but are also engaging and authentic on and off the course,” said Dan Ladd, Executive Vice President, General Manager of Cobra Puma Golf, in a press release. “To that end, we are excited to officially announce Jason Dufner as the newest member of our team. In addition to his unique personality, Dufner is known for his impressive ball-striking ability, as well as being one of the most sophisticated, technically-savvy pros out there when it comes to choosing what’s in his bag, and we’re honored that someone as discerning as he is, has chosen our equipment as he looks towards the next stage of an already impressive career.” Here are the Cobra clubs in Dufner’s bag, according to the company, as he’s set to make his first start as a Cobra staffer in Mexico: Driver: Cobra King F9 Speedback (10.5 degrees) Shaft: LA Golf OLYSS 6X Driving Iron: Cobra King (4-iron) Shaft: LA Golf Rev A prototype Irons: Cobra King Forged CB (5-PW) Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue AMT S400 Wedges: Cobra King V-Grind (52, 56 and 62 degrees) Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400
  11. Sleeper Picks: Mayakoba Golf Classic
    Carlos Ortiz … Only he and Abraham Ancer represent Mexico with status on the PGA TOUR, but a total of seven natives of the host country for the Mayakoba Golf Classic are in this week's field of 132. It includes Ortiz' younger brother, Alvaro. Carlos is rested since a T4 at the Houston Open where he thrived on a fantastic short game. Three starts prior, he also finished T4 at the Sanderson Farms Championship where he excelled tee to green. This is his sixth appearance at El Camaleón. He debuted with a T9 in 2014 and owns a scoring average of 69.56 in 16 rounds. Ryan Armour … As a 43-year-old who never will be mistaken as a long hitter, it'd be a shame if he didn't commit to the Mayakoba Golf Classic. He's one of the most accurate off the tee on the PGA TOUR. Consider that in each of the last three completed seasons, he's ranked either first or second in fairways hit and/or shortest distance from the edge of the fairway on drives that don't find the shortest grass. A solo fourth as a rookie in the inaugural edition in 2007 was his first of four career top fives on TOUR. It was love at first sight. He also placed T21 last year and arrives for his fifth appearance with a T23 in Houston and a T8 in Bermuda in his most recent competitions. Brice Garnett … Sometimes, you want to be cliché. The 36-year-old not only does his best work tee to green, but he's also proven how this formula works at Mayakoba time, and time, and time again. Since 2014, he's 4-for-4 with three top 10s, a T25 and a scoring average of 67.81. After enduring a quiet first half of 2019, he found his gear in Detroit at the end of June. Since a T17 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, he's gone for five top 25s among eight cuts made in 10 starts. It also cannot be ignored that he prevailed on paspalum at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in 2018. Harold Varner III … The non-winner isn't a veteran ball-striker, but neither were John Huh (2012) and Patton Kizzire (2017) when they prevailed for the first time on the PGA TOUR at El Camaleón Golf Club. Proper courses reward those who are willing and can adapt to the test. In three appearances, HV3 has a T5 (2015) and a T6 (2018). His scoring average in 10 rounds is 68.20. It's a trend that's expected to continue as he arrives in form. Since mid-July, he's 9-for-9 with a trio of top-20s finishes. J.J. Spaun … Course-history buffs will label his inclusion on this page as lazy, while devotees of recent form will call their bluff. See, since his first appearance with a T28 as a rookie in 2016, he's added a T14 and a T3, respectively. His scoring average in those 12 rounds is a sporty 67.75. However, he arrives having gone nine consecutive starts without posting a top 35 and only one top-45 finish (T36, Sanderson Farms). When he plays to his strength as a ball-striker, it's rewarded here, but he's yet to find the grip on the toolbox this season. So, however you come at him, he's compelling. NOTE: Sleeper is a relative term, so Rob uses unofficial criteria to determine who qualifies. Each of the following usually is determined to be ineligible for this weekly staple: Winners of the tournament on the current host course; winners in the same season; recent major champions; top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking; recent participants of team competitions.
  12. Hovland-Wolff among new teams set for QBE Shootout
    NAPLES, Fla. – The 12 two-man teams for next month’s QBE Shootout have been finalized, with rising PGA TOUR stars Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff among the new partnerships. “We are pleased to round out the field with such a quality group of players and equally thrilled with the compelling teams we’ve been able to put together. These dynamic duos comprised of young guns, recent TOUR winners and established veterans are sure to create an exciting three days of competition,” tournament host Greg Norman said. The QBE Shootout is set for Dec. 11-15 at Tiburón Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort. The 24-person QBE Shootout field features nine players who won during this past season and a total of 80 career PGA TOUR and LPGA victories, as well as eight of the top 50 players in the world. There are also eight first-time participants in the annual event. There are nine new teams competing for the $3.5 million purse. The three returning teams are defending champs Brian Harman and Patton Kizzire; Billy Horschel and Brandt Snedeker, who played in 2018; and the return of the team of Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter, who were paired together in 2008. LPGA star Lexi Thompson will be playing for the fourth straight year. This year she will be paired with Sean O’Hair, who won the QBE Shootout with two different partners, Steve Stricker and Kenny Perry. Friday’s first round will be broadcast live by Golf Channel from Noon-2 p.m. ET and on Golf Channel Digital from 2-4 p.m ET. Over the weekend, the final two rounds will be live on Golf Channel from Noon-4 p.m. ET, both Saturday and Sunday. The QBE Shootout will once again feature a scramble format during the first round, a modified alternate shot format on Saturday and a final-round four-ball on Sunday. Below is a snapshot of the 12 teams: Brian Harman-Patton Kizzire This Sea Island, Georgia, team won by a stroke last year, marking the fifth consecutive year the champions have won by either one or two strokes. They will attempt to be the first team to successfully defend their title since 2001 and the first to win back-to-back at Tiburon Golf Club. Charles Howell III-Bubba Watson Teaming up for the first time but have combined for 14 appearances, with Howell playing for the 11th time. Over the past two seasons, this team has combined for four PGA TOUR victories. Best finish for each player at the QBE Shootout is second -- Howell with Rory Sabbatini in 2012 and Watson with host Greg Norman in 2007. Billy Horschel-Brandt Snedeker Two past FedExCup champions make up this team, playing together for the second consecutive year. Snedeker won the season-long competition in 2012 and Horschel in 2014. Combined this twosome owns 14 career PGA TOUR titles. Viktor Hovland-Matthew Wolff Teammates at Oklahoma State that won the 2018 NCAA National Championship. Wolff won the 3M Open in just his third start as a professional in July following a storied amateur career that included winning the 2019 NCAA individual title. Hovland was low amateur at both the Masters and U.S. Open this year. He turned professional after the U.S. Open and set a PGA TOUR record with 19 straight rounds in the 60s. Graeme McDowell-Ian Poulter This European team finished ninth the last time they played together in 2008. McDowell picked up his fourth career TOUR victory this year at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. Poulter’s last win in the U.S. was at the 2018 Houston Open. Combined the twosome has won 32 times on both the PGA TOUR and European Tour. Charley Hoffman-Kevin Kisner These two friends will be paired for the first time but have been consistent participants at the Shootout since 2015 and 2016, respectively. Kisner won this year’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play after finishing runner-up to Bubba Watson the previous year. Hoffman tied for third at the Shootout with Gary Woodland last year and Kisner’s best finish was fourth with Kevin Chappell in 2016. Sean O’Hair-Lexi Thompson O’Hair, a two-time winner of the Shootout, will be the third partner of Thompson, who will be playing in her fourth event here. Her best finishes were a T6 in 2017 and a T7 in 2018, both with partner Tony Finau. O’Hair is a four-time winner on TOUR and Thompson has accumulated 11 victories on the LPGA, including this year’s ShopRite LPGA Classic. Ryan Palmer-Harold Varner III Another of the nine new teams featured at this year’s event. Both will be playing in their second QBE Shootout. This is the first start for Palmer since 2014 and second consecutive for Varner, who finished sixth with partner Bubba Watson last year. Palmer last played with Jimmy Walker and finished ninth. Corey Conners-Andrew Putnam Both picked up their first career TOUR victories in the past two years with Putnam winning the 2018 Barracuda Championship and Conners the 2019 Valero Texas Open. Last season, Corey Conners led the TOUR in greens in gegulation (73.06%), average proximity to the hole (32 feet, 6 inches) and fairway proximity (28 feet, 5 inches). Jason Kokrak-J.T. Poston Both are first-time participants in the QBE Shootout. Poston claimed his first TOUR victory at the end of the regular season at the Wyndham Championship and Kokrak has finished among the top ten six times in the last two years, including a tie for eighth at the WGC-HSBC Championship. Rory Sabbatini-Kevin Tway Sabbatini will be playing in his tenth Shootout and Tway his first. Tway picked up his first career TOUR victory at the 2018 Safeway Open and Sabbatini has accumulated six career titles on TOUR. Sabbatini finished runner-up in both 2011 and 2012 with two different partners in the QBE Shootout. Chez Reavie-Kevin Chappell Third appearance for Chappell and first for Reavie, who won the Travelers Championship this season. Chappell has twice played with Kevin Kisner and their best finish was a fourth in 2016. In September, Chappell, the 2017 Valero Texas Open champion, shot the 10th round of 59 in PGA TOUR history at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier.
  13. Power Rankings: Mayakoba Golf Classic
    There are ball-striker's paradises, and then there are ball-striker's paradises. El Camaleón Golf Club at Mayakoba Resort is the latter. It's the recurring theme for the host of the Mayakoba Golf Classic, and why not? Just look around. There's fantastic reason why the PGA TOUR has set up shop on the Yucatan Peninsula since 2007. Emerging from the jungle to reach open water, the walk is like the set location for the climax in "Apocalypto." Continue reading beneath the projected contenders for a review of the course, trends and more. Jason Day, Joaquin Niemann, Cameron Champ, Kevin Kisner and Emiliano Grillo will be among the notables reviewed in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider. Not unlike how Jaguar Paw escaped danger time and again in the Mel Gibson flick that trades liberties with reality for drama, getting up and down around El Camaleón seems just as improbable in the context of contending, given that the course yields about 12.5 greens in regulation per golfer per round on average. Yet, even though seven of the 14 who finished inside the top 10 on last year's leaderboard ranked inside the top 20 in GIR for the tournament, eight of the same 14 also slotted inside the top 20 in scrambling. Defending champion Matt Kuchar was one of three who populated both subsets. Further consider that all of the top-five finishers and Jim Furyk at T6 ranked no worse than T16 in fairways hit. This sharpens the focus on what it takes to succeed even when the wind lays down. Ball-strikers with touch around greens will define the results. Kuchar ranked third in fairways hit, T9 in GIR and T5 in scrambling. He was just 17th in putting: birdies-or-better – above average, yes, but not lights-out – and a mere 41st in putts per GIR, yet he converted 26 par breakers, second-most in the field of 132. Kuchar also extended a long-term pattern as a winner of a certain age. In fact, he increased the average when he captured victory as a 40-year-old. The dozen champions of the Mayakoba Golf Classic have a mean age of 34.92. Four of the last five winners exceeded it. Overall, the 2018 field averaged 69.247 on the Greg Norman design that plays to a par of 71. The course tips at 7,017 yards this year. All 30 yards of the increase over last year's edition are baked into the par-4 16th hole that now extends to 515 yards. Hay can and should be made on the par 3s. Last year's scoring average on Nos. 4, 8, 10 and 15 was just 2.85. It was both a massive one-tenth of one stroke lower than the second-easiest set of the season (TPC Kuala Lumpur) and the second-lowest average on any course in 16 seasons (Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA WEST, 2.81, 2009). One not-so-insignificant detail in "Apocalypto" that was entirely believable was the rainstorm that enhanced the backdrop of the deciding scene on the beach. Playa del Carmen, Mexico, is situated in a climate that favors exactly that. Taking its cue this week, a reasonable threat of storms exists all the way into Friday. The good news is that the wind is forecast to play but a bit role in the narrative. It might kick up a little on Saturday, and from a northerly (read: not prevailing) direction at that. Even so, paspalum greens prepped to run no longer than 11 feet on the Stimpmeter (in advance of the possibility of inclement conditions) figure to be receptive, thus favoring aggressive lines on approach and strikes with the putter. That’s where the experience of navigating the elements matters. It's also why the man holding the chameleon trophy made of limestone typically has done heavy lifting for much longer than his peers. ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled. MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider * - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.
  14. DraftKings preview: Mayakoba Golf Classic
    The PGA TOUR is back after a one-week break and heads to El Camaleon Golf Club, located south of Cancun, Mexico, for the Mayakoba Golf Classic. The field includes returning champion Matt Kuchar, along with other President Cup members from both teams (Jason Day, Joaquin Niemann, Tony Finau, Abraham Ancer, C.T. Pan). Rickie Fowler, who’s been on every U.S. team since the 2014 Ryder Cup, has withdrawn from the tournament due to illness. The course sits on the grounds of the Fairmont Mayakoba Resort and will feature dense mangroves, wild iguanas, a huge cenote (underground cavern) and white-sand beaches just steps away from the green on a couple of par 3s. El Camaleon will play as a par 71, measure just under 7,000 yards and will be putt on Paspalum greens this week. Paspalum grass is often used in tropical climates and can be slow; golfers who have experience with playing and putting on Paspalum or slower greens should be taken into account when building lineups this week. RELATED: Course, field preview: Mayakoba Golf Classic El Camaleon routinely ranks as one of the easiest courses on TOUR in scoring relative to par. Last season it ranked inside the top 10 easiest courses and 18th the year previous. Even though the course – being steps away from the ocean -- can be susceptible to windy conditions, the players haven’t had too much difficulty avoiding the big numbers with both driving accuracy and greens in regulation hit percentage registering higher here than the TOUR average. Par 5 scoring average will be a key statistic again this week. El Camaleon recorded the 12th most eagles made among all courses last season, with 93% of eagles made on the par 5s. Birdie or better gained also will be important, with finishing scores averaging 20 under in the previous four tournaments at El Camaleon. We also should be looking at golfers with cheaper salaries this week. Last season, those who finished in the top 10 in DraftKings scoring averaged a salary around $7,400, with four being priced at or below $6,900. TOP VALUES Viktor Hovland ($11,200) Hovland’s win is coming soon, and it could be this week. Over his past 13 tournaments, Hovland is gaining an average of 6.1 strokes Tee-to-Green and has the ability to score, ranking 11th in fairways gained and fourth in birdies or better gained over his past six tournaments. Hovland failed to make the cut here last season but already has registered a top-10 this season. Tony Finau ($10,600) Finau will want to "make good" on his recent Presidents Cup captain’s pick, and we should expect him to do so this week in Mexico. His ball-striking can’t be disputed, ranking first in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green over his past 24 rounds. Finau has two solid finishes here with a top-20 and top-10 as well as a win in another tropical setting at the Puerto Rico Open back in 2016. Abraham Ancer ($9,200) Ancer finished with back-to-back rounds of 67 on the way to a solid top-5 finish at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions and should keep the momentum going at El Camaleon, where he’s played well in the past. Ancer’s finishes have been inconsistent this season, but his ball-striking has been fantastic, ranking ninth in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and 12th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green over his past six tournaments. He also has been fantastic on the par 5s, ranking ninth in par 5 scoring sverage over his past two tournaments with Shot Tracker data and fourth at the WGC-HSBC Champions earlier this month. Bronson Burgoon ($7,400) Burgoon’s tee game is a tad worrisome, but he’s been mitigating his poor tee game with elite iron play, ranking 10th in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green over his past six tournaments. He has the ability to score, especially on the par 5s, ranking 26th in par 5 scoring average over his past six tournaments. He also is putting well, gaining 3.1 strokes with his flat stick over his past five tournaments and should be able to convert those opportunities into birdies on an easy course this week. Rafael Campos ($6,100) Campos' game seems to light up when he plays in a tropical climate, with a win at the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club on the Korn Ferry Tour in January, along with solid finishes at the Puerto Rico Open over his career. He gained PGA TOUR status by finishing  No. 18 on the Korn Ferry Tour regular season points list last season and just recorded a top-20 at the Bermuda Championship earlier this month. He’ll be a cheap option and a GPP dart throw in order to fit high-priced studs like Hovland and Finau in your lineups. Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game. About the writer: “I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is reidtfowler) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.”
  15. Meet the rookies: Kristoffer Ventura
    Each week during the fall, PGATOUR.COM will highlight one of the rookies playing on the PGA TOUR during the 2019-20 season. This week: Kristoffer Ventura, who’s in this week’s field at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Age: 24 Birthplace: Puebla, Mexico Resides: Norway; Palm Beach Gardens, Florida College: Oklahoma State TOUR card gained by: Finishing 8th in the Korn Ferry Tour regular season standings. TOUR starts/Best finish: 9 (including five this season). Best finish was T18 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open this fall. Has made three of five cuts this season. Pro highlights: Began last season with no status on Korn Ferry Tour but got sponsor exemption and finished T3 at BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation. … Shot a final-round 65 and beat Joshua Creel on third playoff hole at last season’s Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank, his first victory on the Korn Ferry Tour. … After two straight missed cuts, notched second victory at the Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Chevrolet, giving him two wins in just four weeks and his PGA TOUR card for this season. … Followed Pinnacle Bank win with a solo third at WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz. … His first top-20 of his career was a T18 this fall at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, as he shot four rounds in the 60s to finish at 15 under. Amateur highlights: Along with fellow newly minted TOUR pros Matthew Wolfe and Viktor Hovland, Ventura was a member of the Oklahoma State team that won the 2018 NCAA national championship. … Played for losing European team in the Junior Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2010, when Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas played for the U.S. squad. Interesting tidbits: Started playing golf at age 2 when he received a set of plastic clubs for Christmas. … Estimates he won 25 consecutive junior events from age 6-11 in Mexico. … Father is Mexican, mother is Norwegian, and the family moved from Mexico to Norway when he was 12 to help with his golf development. … When he broke through at the Utah Championship, it was only his fifth career start on the Korn Ferry Tour and third of 2019. … Needed appendectomy just days before Q School last fall and wound up missing his Korn Ferry Tour card, necessitating Monday qualifiers. … Speaks three languages fluently (English, Spanish, Norwegian). Ventura says: “Everything we did in Mexico came out of my parents’ own pockets. They really sacrificed a lot. In Norway, those supporting me took me under their wing and I was able to travel the world and develop. Without that, I wouldn’t have played college golf. I wouldn’t be here.” For more on Kristoffer Ventura, click here.

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