Welcome to Three Shots at the Green, where each week I’ll use my experience as a PGA Tour caddie and golf writer to identify the three best bets on the board.
The globetrotting fall swing on the PGA Tour heads to Mexico this week for the Worldwide Technologies Championship, formerly known as the Mayakoba Classic.
This has been Viktor Hovland’s haven the last two years. The ballstriking Norwegian enjoys the slower Paspalum greens (11 on the Stimpmeter) and his precision tee-to-green has produced back-to-back titles.
Unfortunately, there’s no ShotLink data for this tournament, but scanning past leaderboards reveals a premium on accuracy over power. Short hitters Matt Kuchar and Brendon Todd have won here in the past. Avoiding the mangroves that swallow errant tee shots is imperative. Managing the wind and dialing in approach shots in the 125-175 yards is also helpful.
Make a New World Happen. We thank World Wide Technology for being our title sponsor and making the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba possible year after year.@wwt_inc #WWTatMayakoba #WWT #PGATOUR #Mayakoba #RivieraMaya #Mexico #GolfinParadise pic.twitter.com/7VjKqGPMGj
— World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba (@WWTatMayakoba) October 30, 2022
The course history here is also sticky. It seems like once players figure out the 7,015-yard El Camaleon Golf Club layout, they keep coming back and thriving. Hovland is the obvious example, but 11 players have finished in the top-20 at least three times in the last four years.
Find the fairways, attack the pins and thrive on the medium-length par-4s. That’s the recipe for success this week. The rough is manageable (two inches) but living in the short grass should lead to more consistent birdie opportunities.
Let’s take three shots at the green.
Brendon Todd – +175 Top-20
He won in 2020 and finished T-8 and T-11 in the two years since. With top-10s in two of his last four starts, Todd’s game is rounding back into form. After a checkup with swing instructor Bradley Hughes – the man who revived his game – Todd gained seven shots on approach two weeks ago at Congaree, his best iron play since 2015.
One of the best putters on Tour, he’s gained shots on the greens in 12 consecutive starts on a variety of surfaces. Todd is also fifth in field in fairways gained on similar driving tests over the last 36 rounds.
Adam Long – +300 Top-20
It’s been a decent fall for Long (30-53-44 in his last three outings) but something about the relaxed vibe of Mayakoba puts his game in a special place. He has a 2nd, 3rd and 22nd in his last three appearances here and ranks top-10 in this field in recent SG: Tee-to-Green, SG: Approach, SG: Ballstriking and par-4 scoring.
That’s a recipe to cash a good ticket at a sweet value.
Aaron Wise – +188 Top-10
Worth a nibble in the outright market if you’re so inclined and can find a price of +1800 or higher. We’ll settle on backing Wise in the top-10 because he loves Mayakoba and his tee-to-green has reached new heights.
Wise is putting better than we’ve seen from him in the past and ranks eighth in the field in Birdies or Better over the last 50 rounds, landing in the top-15 in three of his last four outings. He’s finished 10th, 2nd and 15th here in the last four years and can gear down off the tee when necessary to find fairways. Feels like he’s overdue for a second PGA Tour title.
2022-23 Season: -2.5 units
Last Week: +4 units. Despite his epic back nine collapse, Ben Griffin easily cashed a Top-20 ticket at +500, giving us a third consecutive week of breaking even or making a profit. When the wind laid down and it turned into a birdie contest Russell Knox’s shot at a top-20 decreased, and he missed by five shots. Sam Ryder missed the cut.