Innings eater. Defensive specialist. Blocking back.
If professional golf, like team sports, has a term to describe low-gloss, high-value talent, it's veteran ball-striker. It usually conjures an image of an average-to-small frame, the lack of distance off the tee and serviceable putting. It also usually defines the winner of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.
In the first 10 editions of the tournament contested at Mayakoba Resort's El Camaleón Golf Club, veteran ball-strikers fills the list of winners. Fred Funk (2007), Mark Wilson (2009), Cameron Beckman (2010), Graeme McDowell (2015) and Pat Perez (2016) all qualify for the label. Inherent to the modifier is experience. Sparked by Funk prevailing as a 50-year-old in the inaugural, and despite John Huh (2012) and Harris English (2013) capturing victories at the tender ages of 21 and 23, respectively, the average age of the 10 winners is 34.7.
POWER RANKINGS: OHL CLASSIC AT MAYAKOBA
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 1 Pat Perez 2 Kevin Chappell 3 Chesson Hadley 4 Rickie Fowler 5 Zach Johnson 6 Luke List 7 Charles Howell III 8 Kevin Streelman 9 Jason Kokrak 10 Graeme McDowell 11 Chez Reavie 12 Bryson DeChambeau 13 Gary Woodland 14 Beau Hossler 15 Whee Kim
Patrick Reed, Russell Knox, 2014 champ Charley Hoffman and Shriners runner-up Alex Cejka will be among the notables in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider.
You wouldn't know it by analyzing the final results of last week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open where nine of the 15 golfers inside the top 10 were non-winners entering the tournament, including breakthrough champion Patrick Cantlay, but when the wind blows, the cradle is supposed to rock. That is, the youngsters among the PGA TOUR's contingent aren't expected to contend in blustery conditions, at least not in unison last they did in Las Vegas.
That's often been the narrative along the Riviera Maya about an hour south of Cancún. Conviction over approach shots with slacks flapping in the sea breeze while playing golf for a living isn't obtained overnight. This week's forecast includes somewhat tame winds for the area. They'll freshen into the weekend. Seasonably high temperatures in the mid-80s will help support the threat for rain and storms, which are almost always including in the conversation in November.
Since the tournament was shifted from late winter to its fall date to coincide with the wraparound schedule in 2013, El Camaleón has owned the easiest set of par 3s thrice. In 2014, they ranked second-easiest. This doesn't mean that the winner of the 132-man field will have to go low on the four par 3s on the par 36-35=71 measuring 6,987 yards – Perez ranked T18 in par-3 scoring last year – but it won't hurt, of course.
As the opening intimates, the priority is hitting greens in regulation. Last year's field averaged 12.36 GIR per round, and then converted birdies or better an average of 4.11 per round, fifth-highest of any course all season. The top five in GIR finished inside the top 10 on the leaderboard and the field as a whole averaged 69.609 on the scorecard, lowest in tournament history.
Paspalum greens are prepped to reach 11 feet on the Stimpmeter. And for the second consecutive year, the rough has been allowed to grow as long as two inches.
ROB BOLTON'S WRITING SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Columnist Rob Bolton will be filing his usual staples leading up to this week’s event. Look for the following columns this week.
MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO, which also publishes on Tuesdays.