Mayakoba Golf Classic betting preview and tips from Ben Coley

Emiliano Grillo
Emiliano Grillo

Ben Coley has five selections for the Mayakoba Golf Classic, with Emiliano Grillo a strong fancy to contend at an ideal course.

Recommended bets

2pts e.w. Emiliano Grillo at 25/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)

1pt e.w. J.J. Spaun at 66/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)

1pt e.w. Danny Lee at 100/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)

1pt e.w. Russell Henley at 110/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)

1pt e.w. Kevin Chappell at 66/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)

There are two more shootouts to go before the PGA Tour officially shuts down for Christmas and three of last week's star names keep the wheels turning for the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico.

Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau and Jordan Spieth will all be desperate to win their final tour start of the year for different reasons: Fowler is playing catch-up, Finau needs a second title to validate his success and Spieth is searching for something to cling to at the end of a hugely disappointing campaign.

Once again it's Fowler who heads the betting but, at 9/1, he's an appalling price. The likeable 29-year-old has won four times in almost a decade's golf on home soil and while the combination of second place here last year and a staying-on fourth last week bodes well, it's likely he flatters to deceive.

With Spieth making his debut on the back of a poor weekend in Vegas, it's Finau who appeals as the most likely contender but whether he can quite get over the line is open to debate. I suspect he'll end the drought soon, but it'll perhaps be in 2019 and if you do want to back him, take the standout 66/1 offered by Betfred for the Masters. He could well go off half that and then some.

Back to Mexico and this looks an ideal chance for Emiliano Grillo to double his PGA Tour tally.

The Argentine is striping it at present and this course, where he's been 10th and ninth in two visits, is ideal. El Camaleon isn't difficult - something around 20-under should win - but there's serious punishment for the sort of big miss which just isn't in Grillo's bag.

Equally, there's great reward for being nice and steady and this relentless fairways-and-greens machine is precisely that, favoured by a relatively short, tree-lined test which does offer up opportunities for those who are sharp with their approach shots.

Last year's ninth place, in which he ranked second for greens, was Grillo's first top-10 finish since the PLAYERS Championship to demonstrate that, regardless of the state of his game, this tournament will provide him with an excellent opportunity to contend.

Twelve months on and he's had two top-10s in his last six starts plus 14th place in the WGC-HSBC Champions last time - it was on the back of a similar performance that he took 10th here on his course debut in 2016.

Grillo's first and only PGA Tour win came in what used to be known as the Fall Series and it's in this type of event, against this grade of opponent, that he's expected to win again. At 49th in the world he has much to play for, not to mention a Presidents Cup place, and this looks an ideal opportunity.

Emiliano Grillo is all smiles in India
Emiliano Grillo can win his second PGA Tour title

Patton Kizzire held off Fowler to win here a year ago and his performance was the culmination of an excellent run of form, after he'd finished 10th in the Sanderson Farms Championship and fourth in Las Vegas.

Pat Perez had also finished inside the top 10 before winning here in 2016 and perhaps J.J. Spaun can capitalise on his own quality run of form to win for the first time.

The Californian was 10th in the CJ Cup a month ago before returning home to finish 15th in last week's Shriners, during which he led the field in strokes-gained: approach to demonstrate that his long game is in excellent shape.

Truth be told he's been playing well since the middle of summer and with form of 28-14 in this event, Mexico may well have been earmarked as an ideal opportunity to contend just as he did in 2017 before a ho-hum Sunday.

I like the fact that his sole Web.com Tour success came at Fox Den, a low-scoring course (Spaun shot 26-under) where Kizzire won in 2015, and where various other Mayakoba contenders - Martin Piller, Si Woo Kim, Peter Malnatai - have also gone really well.

Spaun's best chance to win at this higher level came in last year's Shriners and he's capable of contending once again.

Danny Lee is another whose long-game looked good in Las Vegas and he can make amends for a poor-finishing third here in 2014.

The New Zealander went out in 29 on Sunday four years ago to move into the lead but came home in a three-over, birdie-less 38 to ultimately miss out on a play-off by two shots.

At the time he blamed that on medication he was taking for a sore back having worn off but having since become a PGA Tour winner at the Greenbrier Classic, perhaps he'd be more willing to confess that he was simply a rabbit in headlights with a career-changing opportunity in front of him.

Lee hasn't quite kicked on from being the teen sensation who became the youngest winner of the US Amateur and then the youngest winner on the European Tour, but at 28 there's time yet to put that right and since he emerged from a slump to finish seventh at Sawgrass in the spring, the signs have been positive.

Interestingly, he also became a dad a fortnight ago and there are real parallels between him and Andrew Landry, a winner for these pages in Texas back in the spring.

Landry had become a dad for the first time, then teed it up in the RBC Heritage. He'd played well, too siting 20th after round one, 21st at halfway and 12th with 18 to play before slumping to 41st after a poor final round, those sleepless nights perhaps catching up with him.

Still, having ranked fourth in greens hit it was clear that Landry's game was in really good shape and he'd go on to win in Texas, his home state, where he was comfortable and could complete a dream month.

Lee also faded last week, from 20th after round one, eighth at halfway and 14th with a round to go to an eventual 41st, and also hit the ball well, ranking first for greens in regulation. Might he conjure a similar performance just one week later?

Of course there's an element of coincidence to the above but I am a firm believer in the nappy factor. Look beyond golf to the performances of James Wade, the darts player who has won back-to-back TV titles since becoming a father. For some, not all, it can have that transformative effect.

As ever, it's used as a speculative add-on to a broader case. Lee has course form, as well as an excellent record on the once similar greens of the CIMB Classic, and he's been playing well for some time now regardless of life off the course.

Perhaps parenthood can help find that extra percentage point which can change a nearly week into a perfect one.

This will sound like a desperate attempt to remind readers that I have tipped the odd winner in the past, but I can't resist backing Russell Henley at anything 80/1 or bigger.

Those with good memories may recall Henley winning the Honda Classic a few years ago at a massive price. The case for him revolved around the course being ideal, but the kicker was the fact that what looked like awful form might just be better than it appears and that he'd improve for a return to the east coast.

Four years on and maybe last week's Las Vegas performance, where he followed an opening 75 with a second-round 66, can prove equally as revealing. He'd shot 78-66 at Riviera prior to that win at PGA National in 2014.

Henley has been out of sorts for a little while but his best form would entitle him to be up alongside Grillo here and while we're not back in Florida, we are at a golf course with Floridian qualities, one which fits in really nicely with all of his best form so far.

Several players tie this event to the Sony Open, which Kizzire and Johnson Wagner both won shortly after success in Mexico. Mark Wilson has also won both titles and as this event is little more than a decade old, that's a telling correlation.

Henley's first win came in the Sony, another flat, tree-lined, low-scoring, coastal shootout, and his second came in the Honda. While altogether more difficult, the basic requirements are the same and that too is backed up by leaderboards.

Wagner's other win came in the Shell Houston Open, which Henley won last year, and while that's far less accurate a guide it does add another nice little boost to the case for a three-time PGA Tour champion who has the class to win and a track record of finding his game out of seemingly nothing.

Henley need only find something with the putter to become a factor again and he's fancied to take to this course on debut.

Russell Henley is a big price for one more than capable of winning in this company

Various others made the shortlist including Cameron Davis, who won the Eisenhower Trophy here in 2016, the dominant member of a strong Australia team, and returned to the course to bag a top-20 finish in this event later on.

Having since become a winner not only on the Web.com Tour but of his national open, too, I'm a little surprised there's not been more support for this potential PGA Tour star who has played well on two of his three starts this season.

Davis is one to consider along with home favourite Abraham Ancer, who is a better, more confident player now than the one who ghosted through the field for a top-10 here last year. Perhaps the burden of home support will prove too much if he does get into contention but he should nevertheless play well.

Chez Reavie is an ideal Mayakoba type and Kramer Hickok may prove to be, while Patrick Rodgers led at the halfway stage last year, has been playing well for a little while now and is another for whom a case can be made.

I must also mention the in-form Denny McCarthy, who looks set for a big season, but the final place in the staking plan goes to Kevin Chappell.

He has no form here to speak of but two visits came six years apart and when he wasn't perhaps at his best. I've little doubt it should suit, as supported by strong form at the CIMB Classic where he was 10th recently, three of his four rounds bogey-free.

That and a subsequent 29th at the CJ Cup represent a welcome return to form for this class act, who seven starts ago had a chance to win the Open Championship and has gone close to winning most of the big events on the calendar.

As a quality ball-striker who can struggle on the greens, Chappell is probably somewhat better served by a tougher test but he's produced some seriously low scores in events like the RSM Classic and the CareerBuilder Challenge while his Web.com Tour breakthrough came in a shootout for the Stonebrae Classic.

His sole PGA Tour win so far came at the Greg Norman-designed TPC San Antonio, and Norman's other course in use is this one at El Camaleon. Both events have been won by Chappell's close friend, Charley Hoffman, and Chappell is a good price to complete the very same double.

Posted at 1035 GMT on 06/11/18.

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