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PGA DFS: Vegas Report - Mayakoba Golf Classic

A much-needed break has given us a chance to regroup mentally and hopefully get this ship back on track in Playa del Carmen, Mexico for the Mayakoba Golf Classic, and if history serves as any indication, we might be in store for a nice bounce-back effort.

Last season at this event, we connected on the first winner of our 2019 season when Matt Kuchar was able to lead us to the promised land at odds of 66/1. Connecting on that helped to pave the way for our second straight year of five total outright victors, which eventually included a 200/1 bomb on Corey Conners at the Valero Texas Open.

Outright betting in golf can be a grind, and it is why you always want to make sure you aren't overly invested in any one week, but it only takes a single tournament to completely alter your trajectory for the season. This tournament has been kind to us in the past, so without further ado, let's see if we can't go back-to-back for our first outright winner of 2020.

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2020 Mayakoba Golf Classic

For an in-depth breakdown of the top DraftKings and Fanduel plays, check out Joe Nicely's weekly Horse For The Course that highlights the best fits for the week's course.

El Camaleon Golf Club

6,987 Yards - Par 71 - Greens Paspalum

El Camaleon Golf Club has played host to the Mayakoba Golf Classic since its inception in 2007, and the best way to describe the venue would be as an exposed oceanside track that also features jungle terrain and swampland. Greg Norman architected the course to play as an extremely short Par 71 - measuring in at slightly under 7,000 yards - and because of its length, scoring will be rather easy if winds remain calm.

There are very few tracks on the PGA Tour where distance doesn't hold an advantage over precision, but nearly 65 percent of all top-10 finishers during the previous six years have been shorter than average off the tee. It's not to say that distance is a negative, but accuracy players will see a boost this week.

While the winning score will most likely creep slightly above 20-under par, there are a plethora of mistakes to be made throughout the four days. Not only will potential wind randomly wreak havoc, but El Camaleon rates near the top-10 courses on tour in double bogey or worse percentage. In fairness, it also ranks around the top-10 in birdie or better rate, but it is worth noting that if you start spraying the ball off the tee, big numbers can come into play. Fairways aren't overly challenging but can make golfers feel as if they are trapped in a tiny bubble once things begin to go wrong.

Mayakoba Golf Classic

#1 Joaquin Niemann 25/1

DK Price $9,800, FD Price $11,200

Projected DraftKings Ownership Percentage - 16.5%

I wrote this last year before the Mayakoba Golf Classic took place, and I believe it still holds true - even if we did miss Joaquin Niemann's breakthrough victory at the Greenbrier Classic.

"Niemann is an interesting case study of talent versus value... just because we aren't getting a "correct price," doesn't mean the Chilean prodigy is off-limits to futures action. All it indicates is that we are going to have to pick and choose our spots with him going forward. At events where courses are easy, birdies come in bunches and iron play from 150 yards or less can alter a tournament, Niemann is probably best suited to compete at a venue like that. Value isn't always so cut and dry, and it is what makes handicapping challenging. But in the same breath, it's what presents edges and strategy to shine through. Niemann is going to record a big win soon, and I am more than willing to try and be a part of it at a birdie-fest venue like El Camaleon."

The "big win" unfortunately came at the Greenbrier Classic in September, but the thought process was correct with what was said nearly a year prior. Blindly tailing a golfer and hoping to be a part of their triumph isn't conducive to long-term success as a bettor, but it doesn't mean that we can't pick and choose our spots. In a vacuum, Niemann's odds this week of 25/1 are right on the precipice of where we start to venture into a territory that is impossible to yield a profit over time, but that is also assuming we are just blindly tailing him in every spot. Instead, I view this as an ideal venue for him against a marginal field, which should allow his skillset to shine through. My model has Niemann as the second favorite to take home this title - behind only Viktor Hovland, but the 21-year-old is the only player yielding a small edge in terms of pricing from our choices of 30/1 or less. That is good enough for me to lead my card with the 55th-ranked player in the world for the second straight year in Mexico.


#2 Denny McCarthy 45/1

DK Price $8,400, FD Price $10,100

Projected DraftKings Ownership Percentage - 11%

If you are looking for course history, you are going to have to dive deeper than Denny McCarthy's 41st and 68th place finishes here during the last two years. However, if you do go into the numbers slightly more, the 26-year-old has recorded rounds of 64 and 65 at the venue during those events.
You could make an argument that McCarthy is the best putter in this field, and while putting isn't necessarily an indicator for success here at El Camaleon, persistent rain has pelted the greens and has reportedly turned the surface into a slight disaster. If this tournament does end up turning into a putting contest, the 146th-ranked player in the world should feel right at home.
The American has provided four straight top-18 results to begin his season, which should help him find confidence at a venue where his birdie-making prowess should radiate through. When you add in the fact that McCarthy is ranked inside the top-15 compared to the field in ball striking, scoring average, par-four scoring and strokes gained total, you begin to realize that his 45/1 outright price might actually present value in a beatable field.

#3 Doc Redman 100/1

DK Price $7,100, FD Price $8,700

Projected DraftKings Ownership Percentage - 13.2%

While GPP roster construction and outright betting are similar for golf, there are a few differences that need to be pointed out. For large field contests on a site like DraftKings, you not only need to focus on ownership percentage, but I also find it essential to try and keep your builds to include similar skillsets. Once you start overlapping different game types, you are almost contradicting your viewpoints. On the other hand, outright betting is a little different than that. I do think there is some validity in taking a similar approach, but you are capable of branching out slightly if you want to leave yourself with more options.

One of the biggest misconceptions bettors make is believing that their perception is the only reality. Yes, there are certain things that will prove to be factually correct, but what happens when events play out differently than initially handicapped? The best example I can use would be a football one. Let's say you like a team because their rushing offense should be too potent for an opposing defense, but what happens if that team falls behind early and now has to pass to catch up? Is that still a bet that possesses value in that scenario?

Denny McCarthy and Doc Redman are opposites with a flat stick in their hands, but what occurs if the Paspalum greens aren't water damaged, and the slow nature of the surface negates some of McCarthy's advantages? In that situation, a player like Redman might be able to use his ball-striking acumen and birdie-making expertise to find El Camaleon to play right into his back pocket. I guess what I am trying to say is that we need to broaden our outlooks when accessing wagers, and we need to be careful when it comes to pigeon-holing ourselves into a corner of one thing being fact. Doing that can create structural issues, and that will never be good for our bankroll. None of that means that both guys aren't capable of finding success simultaneously, but logical reasoning would indicate that the two golfers would make more sense together on a betting card than on the same DFS lineup. Little oddities like that can help make you a better DFS player/gambler and would be something I'd advise putting more thought into going forward.

#4 Kevin Chappell 125/1

DK Price $6,700, FD Price $8,200

Projected DraftKings Ownership Percentage - 2.1%

Players will see ebbs and flows in their pricing throughout the year, but Kevin Chappell's value has continued to inflate in the past season. It is worth noting that the American was forced to miss nearly a full year after having required back surgery to fix his ailments, but the 304th-ranked player in the world has become forgotten about during that time frame.

The Mayakoba Golf Classic was the last tournament the American played during 2018, but even before that hiatus from the PGA Tour, Chappell had been dealing with pain in his back for weeks. His poor form caused his price to skyrocket to 75/1 for the event here last fall, and now we are in a spot where we are being dealt numbers over 100/1 because it is difficult to tell exactly where his game is at right now.

In reality, Chappell is around the same skill level as players such as Emiliano Grillo, Aaron Wise and Keegan Bradley, but the market appears to have lost touch with just how talented the American is when healthy. We have seen Chappell tee it up three times in 2019, which includes two top-47 showings in September, but he did struggle at the Houston Open in October. With an extra month under his belt since that performance, El Camaleon Golf Club appears to be a perfect fit for the American and should highlight his birdie-making style, superb ball-striking ability and solid approach game. Chappell's only win during his career on tour came at the Greg Norman-designed TPC San Antonio, so he has proven to be able to succeed at a Norman track before. This is one of those spots where I'd rather be out in front of the market and will take my chances that something has changed in the past month.


#5 Sepp Straka 150/1

DK Price $6,800, FD Price $8,000

Projected DraftKings Ownership Percentage - 4.4%

Sepp Straka is more of a swing for the fence than anything else, but we are able to do so at odds of 150/1. The Austrian golfer's past 11 events could not be more all over the place after producing six missed cuts, but the 195th-ranked player in the world does have three top-12 finishes to go along with his failed ventures.

I am a little afraid that Straka has missed his window of opportunity and is on the wrong side of the trajectory slope at this point, but I have no issues rolling the dice at a large price and hoping to have it land on a massive payout. Staka is a quality iron player and birdie-maker and could make a run up the leaderboard if he is able to keep his mistakes to a minimum.

Key Stats: Ball Striking 25%, Par-Four Average 22%, Proximity from 125-175 Yards 20%, Birdie or Better Percentage 18% and Scoring Average 15%

50% Stats/30% Form/20% Course History

Head-to-Head Play of the Week

Denny McCarthy +110 over Kevin Kisner -130
Denny McCarthy $8,400 price tag on DraftKings vs. Kevin Kisner $8,800 price tag
Denny McCarthy 10.9 percent projected ownership vs. Kevin Kisner 6.7 percent projected ownership

1.00 Units to Win 1.10 Units

This isn't necessarily a fade against Kevin Kisner because I do believe he possesses some upside this weekend, but head-to-head wagers are about picking spots, and Denny McCarthy is being given too little of a chance by the market.

When you look at Kisner's recent form, you might be blown away by his current stretch of golf, which includes seven straight made, but the results are a little more deceptive than meets the eye. Sure, the American did post two ninth-place finishes at both the BMW Championship and Tour Championship, but five of his made weekends were at no-cut events.

Kisner's 66th place at the ZOZO Championship was only good enough to beat eight players in the field, and his share of 28th at the WGC-HSBC Champions still had him behind almost 36% of the field. Kisner's putting prowess does give him a chance to find success if the greens play trickier than first expected with all of the rain, but McCarthy brings that same level of expertise with his flat stick to the event. Coming into the week, Kisner ranks 47th compared to the field in ball striking over his past 100 rounds and also grades out 66th in proximity from 125-150 yards and 70th in birdies or better gained. When you add that information to the fact that the 35th-ranked player in the world failed to make the cut here last season, some volatility begins to form around him. I am perfectly fine backing Kisner as a GPP selection with his six percent projected ownership, but cash-game players and head-to-head bettors do have an edge available if they decide to fade him this weekend in Mexico. McCarthy's 47.6% implied win probability is 6.9% lower than where I have it being accurately priced, and I am happy to risk a unit to try and win back 1.1 units on this wager.


2020 Head-to-Head Record (2-1-1)

+0.85 Units Year-To-Date From H2H Bets


Head-to-Head Bet


My Picks Finish

Opponent Finish



Sanderson Farms

Denny McCarthy -110 over Martin Laird

1.10 Units to Win 1.00

T18 (-11)

MC (+4)



Safeway Open

Cameron Percy -110 over Danny Lee

1.10 Units to Win 1.00

T7 (-12)

MC (+2)



Shriners Open

Bud Cauley -115 over Phil Mickelson

1.15 Units to Win 1.00

MC (-1)

61 (-9)



Houston Open

Jhonattan Vegas +100 over Aaron Baddeley

1.12 Units to Win 1.12

MC (+3)

MC (+3)



2020 Outright Bets That Have Finished Inside the Top-10




Finish Position

Xander Schauffele

ZOZO Championship




Career Record: 

2017 Golf Betting:
Head to Head Bets (10-2-2) +8.175 Units
Outright Winners (5)
Dustin Johnson Genesis Open (10/1)
Sergio Garcia Masters (50/1)
Brooks Koepka U.S. Open (45/1)
Justin Thomas PGA Championship (35/1)
Dustin Johnson Northern Trust (14/1)

2018 Golf Betting:
Head to Head Bets
(46-24-2) +24.49 Units
Outright Winners (5)
Phil Mickelson WGC-Mexico (22/1)
Bubba Watson WGC- Match Play (45/1)
Brooks Koepka U.S. Open In-Play Wager (14/1)
Dustin Johnson RBC Canadian Open (7/1)
Justin Thomas WGC-Bridgestone (30/1)

2019 Golf Betting:
Head to Head Bets
(16-9-2) +8.33 Units
Outright Winners (5)
Matt Kuchar Mayakoba Golf Classic (66/1)
Corey Conners Valero Texas Open (200/1)
Rory McIlroy RBC Canadian Open  (10/1)
Brooks Koepka WGC- St. Jude Classic (12/1)
Rory McIlroy Tour Championship (8/1)

Career Record (Excluding 2020 Season Results):

Head to Head Bets (72-35-6) +40.995 Units
Outright Winners (15)
Top 5s (Didn't Track in 2017)
2018 - 16
2019 - 26
Top 10s (Didn't Track in 2017)
2018 - 31
2019 - 41


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