Lacking anyone from the world’s top 64, and including just two representatives from the top 100, this event from Mexico understandably takes second billing to the World Match Play. Nevertheless it still carries the status of a PGA Tour event and will be shown live on Setanta. And as betting opportunities on the Match Play final are always limited, I expect there will be a considerable amount of betting interest come Sunday night.
Looking through the results of last year’s inaugural Mayakoba Classic, it seems pretty clear that driving distance is of negligible importance compared to accuracy at El Camolean. Fred Funk, consistently one of the shortest and straightest on the PGA Tour and now a golfing ‘senior’, won the event from not entirely dissimilar types in Jose Coceres and Peter Lonard. The fact that veteran short and straight character Larry Mize also registered a rare top-10 is enough to convince me of the type of player profiles to look for.
Even with these clues though, this tournament still looks a bit of a lottery in punting terms mainly because so few of the field have good recent form against their name. Therefore, I’m keeping stakes low on my four selections but at least at these sort of prices, (the favourite is 22/1), we’ll get a decent return if any of my selections can make the places.
My shortest-priced selection is PARKER MCLACHLAN at 40/1. McLachlan did fairly well in this event last year, finishing 18th, but has only taken my eye for the first time in recent weeks. He’s never looked like winning or even being in serious contention, but five consecutive top-30 finishes, three inside the top-15, is a decent standard of golf amongst the usual PGA Tour fields. Certainly, a reproduction of that level of form for a sixth good week in a row would take him close in this much weaker company.
Another player who has entered my conciousness lately is DOUG LABELLE. Again he’s done nothing out of the ordinary but has given the hint that he’s made steady progress since finishing in 26th here last year. A top-10 in Hawaii and a top-20 behind Woods having been in halfway contention again represents a level of form that must be respected now.
Although GONZALO FERNANDEZ-CASTANO wouldn’t qualify for consideration using the ‘experience’ criteria, he looks an absolutely massive price at 66/1 in this limited company. Remember, Castano has already won three events on the European Tour which asides a few notable exceptions would be beyond the capabilities of most of this field throughout their entire career, let alone at the relatively young age of 27. Similarly Castano’s second place in Japan over the winter probably represents a higher level of form than any of these have shown in the meantime with the exception of regular Aussie Tour winner Lonard.
Finally, I’ve felt for a while that BRIAN GAY could be capable of springing a big-priced shock somewhere, so at 80/1 its worth a crack that this is the week. If and when Gay lands that elusive first PGA Tour victory, it will come on a course where accuracy and a hot putter are required, exactly the crucial attributes here. 17th place on his penultimate start also confirm that Gay is in good enough form.
1pt ew PARKER MCLACHLAN @ 40/1 (STAN JAMES, BETDIRECT)
1pt ew DOUG LABELLE @ 66/1 (GENERAL)
1pt ew GONZALO FERNANDEZ-CASTANO @ 66/1 (70/1 TOTE)
1pt ew BRIAN GAY @ 80/1 (BET365, BETFRED, VCBET)
ANTE-POST ALREADY ADVISED
2008 VOLVO ORDER OF MERIT
10pts HENRIK STENSON @ 7/1
4pts PAUL CASEY @ 14/1
USPGA TOUR MONEY LIST
BETTING WITHOUT TIGER WOODS
2pts ew KJ CHOI @ 33/1
1pt ew TREVOR IMMELMAN @ 80/1
20pts TIGER WOODS TO WIN US OPEN @ 11/4
20pts TIGER WOODS TO WIN EXACTLY THREE MAJORS @ 12/1
2007/2008 STATS: +314pts