Just two weeks of competitive PGA Tour golf remains for the 2018 calendar year, but before the extended break, the U.S. tour travels south for the 12th edition of the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
One of the most exotic locations the Tour sees all year, El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen, Mexico is a tropical, wanderlust-inducing paradise that also happens to be an impressive challenge for a better-than-you-think field.
The following 15 players are the ones we like most this week, although compelling arguments could be made for many others:
15. Bud Cauley
One of the real under-the-radar stories of the new PGA Tour season has been the impressive comeback of Bud Cauley, who had his 2018 truncated due to a serious car wreck in June.
At the Safeway Open last month, his first event back, he posted three strong rounds before fading on Sunday. He was even better last week in Vegas, bouncing back from a Thursday 72 to post rounds of 66-67-65 to finish T10.
Possessing a high-end short game, Cauley should be feeling excellent coming into Playa del Carmen.
World Rank: 189th
Field Rank: 42nd
Last Six: 10, 46, MC, MC, 67, 23
14. Jordan Spieth
Being Jordan Spieth is most of what is keeping him on this list, but the three-time major champion has severely been leaking oil since last April.
He usually takes the fall series off, but a need to regain form has him on the field list at Mayakoba. He was also in the field at last week’s PGA event in Vegas, struggling badly on the weekend to finish a disappointing T55.
At No. 14 in the world, Spieth is the second-highest ranked player at El Camaleon, but has done little to engender confidence as of late.
Still, the consensus is that his game is likely to start clicking again in the near future, and this is one of the weakest fields in any event he will play.
World Rank: 14th
Field Rank: 2nd
Last Six: 55, 55, 12, 25, 12, 60
13. Anders Albertson
With the Mayakoba Golf Classic historically yielding very low scores, Albertson, who led the Web.com Tour in scoring average last year, should be feeling great about his chances. Back-to-back 65s in the middle rounds at last week’s Shriners Hospitals For Children Open, showcased that talent to go low, as did his T5 result a week prior at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
He has done the best of his work with his irons, ranking 13th on Tour in the new season in strokes gained: approach-the-green.
This will be his first attempt at El Camaleon, and just the fifth PGA Tour start of his career, but he is an aggressive player who is not easily intimidated.
World Rank: 222nd
Field Rank: 67th
Last Six: 28, 5, MC, 31, 2, 9
12. Zach Johnson
A 12-time PGA Tour champion, ZJ has chosen the Mayakoba Golf Classic for his 2018-19 season debut, making him the biggest name in the field to do so.
An extremely consistent performer over the past decade-and-a-half, Johnson is coming off a strange season from a statistical perspective. He notched just 2 top 10s in 25 events, the fewest of his 14-year professional career, but still posted 14 top-25s, one of his best years in that regard. One of those finishes outside the top 10, but inside the top 25 occurred at this event last year, where he shot a field-low 64 for his final 18 holes to finish solo-23rd.
World Rank: 59th
Field Rank: 21st
Last Six: 33, MC, 40, 19, 17, 17
11. Sam Ryder
Make that two top-4 finishes in three events in the new season for Ryder, who was the star of Sunday’s final round at last week’s Shriners Hospitals For Children Open, shooting a field-low bogey-free 9-under 62 to pressure the leaders before finishing solo-third.
With 15 birdies on the weekend at TPC at Summerlin, the former Web.com Tour star is looking confident, and win No. 1 could be close.
As a rookie on the PGA Tour last year, he ranked 2nd in greens in regulation, and is some minor short game improvements away from really being a consistent contender.
World Rank: 138th
Field Rank: 39th
Last Six: 3, 43, 4, 28, 45, 78
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