Like countless musicians, Jimmy Buffett loves himself some golf. He even caddied in a pro-am at the U.S. Senior Women's Open this past summer. So, if the Mayakoba Golf Classic would have debuted oh, say, 40 years ago (instead of in 2007), he may have been persuaded to write "Ball-strikers in Paradise" instead of his timeless hit about a cheeseburger.
While the song conveys a message of wanting to eat healthier, there is no such concern of overindulging on fairways and greens at El Camaleón Golf Club this week. In fact, it's the objective more than usual.
Scroll past the ranking for an explanation, what has defined the champions and more.
Former champions Charley Hoffman (2014), Pat Perez (2016) and Patton Kizzire (2017) will be covered in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider along with Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson and Billy Horschel among other notables.
You may need to be of a certain age to appreciate Buffett's music, but most of the winners of the Mayakoba Golf Classic qualify. Beginning with Fred Funk as a 50-year-old in the inaugural edition and extending through Patton Kizzire, 31, last year, the average age among the 11 winners is 34.45. Only John Huh (21) in 2012 and Harris English (24) in 2013 weren't at least 30.
Compare that against the first six winners of the 2018-19 season for whom the average age is 27.33. At 34 years of age at the time of his win at the CIMB Classic, Marc Leishman easily is the oldest.
Indeed, El Camaleón is the closest thing to a governor on the youth movement in the fall. Two-inch primary rough guards fairways on a walk that is akin to a golf safari. It consists of jungle, mangroves and the seashore. The cenote in the middle of the fairway on the par-5 seventh hole is a bonus.
The steady breeze off the Caribbean Sea on the Riviera Maya forces undulating greens to be capped at 11 feet on the Stimpmeter. The par-3 fourth and 15th holes are most exposed, but consistency is required throughout the course on which only paspalum is present. Yet, since the Mayakoba Golf Classic shifted to the fall when the wraparound season was launched in 2013-14, its par 3s have been the easiest on which to score four times. (They slotted second-easiest in 2014.)
Managing one's ball flight is secondary to dealing with adversity when an unpredictable gust of wind manipulates its direction. That's one of the reasons why experience as a professional has carried elevated value at El Camaleón, a par 36-35--71 tipping at just 6,987 yards.
Last year's scoring average of 70.323 was a five-year high, so eagles and birdies are out there. En route to his title, Kizzire ranked T7 in greens in regulation and third in converting those chances into par breakers. He also finished fourth in putts per GIR and T3 in par-5 scoring. (ShotLink isn't utilized for the tournament.)
Inclement weather often cannot be ruled out in these climes. This is the reality again this week as rain and the threat of storms bookend the four-day competition. Otherwise, mostly dry, warm and humid conditions are expected. The wind should lay down, however. As it does, the expectation for red numbers rises.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done, Twitter live fantasy show
* - 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.