Given it’s now regular place on the PGA Tour schedule, as the consolation prize for those outside the world’s top 64 and therefore not qualified for the World Match Play, this annual trip to Mexico is only ever going to be a second division affair. That lowly status is reflected by Sky’s decision to drop the live coverage previously enjoyed by Setanta viewers, but that shouldn’t act as any sort of deterrant to those looking for a bet. The three previous winners were all perfectly plausible, as were the vast majority of the 15 players to have made the top five during that period.
Course and stats
At less than 7,000 yards, El Camaleon offers virtually no advantage to big-hitters. Instead the name of the game here is accuracy from tee to green, with the most important stats in previous renewals being greens in regulation, scrambling and putting average.
3.5pts ew KJ CHOI @ 14/1 (GENERAL)
Choi’s presence in this event, rather than the World Match Play, illustrates how quickly a player can slide down the rankings. A couple of years ago, he was one of the leading candidates for the Masters after impressively landing his seventh PGA title at the Sony Open. He’s hardly lost the plot, even winning an Asian Tour event last October, and if recent stats are anything to go by it won’t be long before the Korean is back amongst the big guns. This field is badly lacking strength in depth, and a repetition of the top 30s registered on his last three starts would be competitive. Odds of 14/1 offers a perfectly reasonable each-way bet about the favourite.
2.5pts ew HEATH SLOCUM @ 20/1 (GENERAL)
Similarly, the best of Slocum’s recent form would ensure a very strong challenge in this company. It’s only six months since he won the elite Barclays Classic, and a couple of mid-division efforts in pro-ams on his two latest starts were respectable enough. One of the straightest drivers around, Slocum really is suited for this course so it’s no surprise that he finished third last year with four sub-par rounds, during what was a generally bleak spell of his career.
1.5pts ew CARL PETTERSSON @ 40/1 (GENERAL)
Last year was a miserable year for this three-time PGA Tour winner, but there has been some recent improvement and this drop in grade offers a good chance for Pettersson to get his career back on track. Fifth place at the high-class Sony Open reads very well in this company. As always with Pettersson, much depends on whether the putter works, but at least unlike most of the opposition, he knows how to win when it does.
1pt ew CHAD COLLINS @ 50/1 (GENERAL)
Such is the lack of strength in depth, this field wouldn’t look out of place on the Nationwide Tour. Therefore, a player like Collins with regular good form at that level must be taken very seriously. Collins’ last five events on that lower tour produced one win, one runners-up spot and five top-seven finishes. Since graduating to the PGA Tour, he’s also registered two top 20s from three, and therefore looks a highly likely contender this week at a decent price.
Nitties odds have drifted right out after starting the 2010 PGA Tour campaign with three missed cuts, so given his excellent rookie season and winter campaign, now may be the time to strike. During the Australasian season, on courses that can always be relied upon to reward quality, Nitties was rarely out of contention and it bodes well that he finished sixth at El Camaleon last year.