10. Sungjae Im
The rookie season of 20-year-old Sungjae Im, who was the leading money-winner last season on the Web.com Tour, has been a little up-and-down, but there have been some legitimate flashes of greatness.
He contended until the end at the season-opening Safeway Open, posting a T4, and finishing just one shot out of the three-man playoff. His missed cut at the opposite-field Sanderson Farms Championship was shocking for a player of his caliber, but he bounced back nicely at the Shriners Hospitals For Children Open last week, finishing T15 off the strength of 6-under 65s on Friday and Sunday.
If he hits his irons at El Camaleon the way he did in Las Vegas last week, where he was third in the field in greens in regulation, the South Korean has a good shot to become just the second international winner of the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
World Rank: 94th
Field Rank: 32nd
Last Six: 15, MC, 41, 4, 43, 16
9. Si Woo Kim
Normally an embarrassingly abysmal putter, Kim, against great odds, somehow led the field in Vegas last week in strokes gained: putting.
It is much, much more likely to be an aberration than a new trend, but it is still promising to see flatstick improvement from the 23-year-old former PLAYERS Champion. His hot putter led to a T15 finish, which is especially impressive when considering he had a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 6th hole on Saturday. That makes three finishes inside the top 25 to start the new season for Kim, who finished 3rd at Mayakoba last year.
It is often difficult to tell which Si Woo Kim is going to show up in any given week, but he clearly likes this course, and seems to be making legitimate strides in becoming more consistent.
World Rank: 55th
Field Rank: 21st
Last Six: 15, 23, 10, 41, 35, 76
8. Cameron Champ
Players are supposed to experience a big let-down the week following their first career victory on the PGA Tour, but nobody told the Herculean hitter Champ, who was just three strokes out of the 54-hole lead in Vegas last week after winning the Sanderson Farms Championship six days prior.
Champ’s Sunday 2-over 73 was a disappointment, although he still birdied six holes, but there is little to not love about the rookie’s game at the moment.
The Tour leader in strokes gained: off-the-tee has also been putting well, and his scoring makes him among the favorites in Playa Del Carmen, where the average score has been 19.2 strokes under par over the last five editions.
World Rank: 117th
Field Rank: 38th
Last Six: 28, 1, 25, MC, 33, 16
7. Joaquin Niemann
What was that about a slump? The 19-year-old Chilean was a Tour sensation when he turned pro last year, showing shockingly hot form right out of the gate, but had been looking disappointingly mortal over his last six starts.
Now, after a T10 performance at TPC at Summerlin last week, which included four eagles and four straight sub-70 rounds, his precocious tee-to-green game seems to be clicking again.
For Niemann, it is only a matter of when his first PGA Tour victory comes, and given his talent plus this field, do not be shocked if “when” occurs this week in Mexico.
World Rank: 147th
Field Rank: 42nd
Last Six: 10, 36, 83, 33, 71, 37
6. Luke List
Coming off a career 2018 season, the 33-year-old Vanderbilt product List looks as close to a win as anyone on Tour who does not currently have one on their resume.
List has had a nice rest since a T4 at the season-opening Safeway Open a month ago, which should bode well for his chances to take an event where he finished T7 in 2017.
Among the stats that signal a victory coming very, very soon include finishing last season 5th on Tour in strokes gained: off-the-tee, 6th in strokes gained: tee-to-green, and 12th in strokes gained: around-the-green.
A balky putter is all that is preventing List from having a complete game, and even there, he gained strokes on the field in three of four rounds in his last outing.
World Rank: 56th
Field Rank: 18th
Last Six: 4, 45, MC, 48, MC, 24
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