5. Abraham Ancer
Expect the home crowds to rally around Ancer, who is easily the best Mexican golfer on Tour right now. His T4 in Vegas last week, a performance that elevated him into the world’s top 100 for the first time, was his second top-5 finish in three starts in the new season, an impressive start after he ended the 2018 season hot.
Ancer is prone to bad stretches within tournaments here and there, but once he gets more consistent, the wins will come for the 28-year-old. He has been tremendous off the tees as of late, and his putter has been absolutely on fire.
In addition to his stellar recent form, Ancer has shone at Mayakoba before, finishing T9 in last year’s edition, and posting five rounds below 70 in his last eight rounds, including twice posting a 6-under 65.
World Rank: 98th
Field Rank: 39th
Last Six: 4, 73, 5, 51, 7, MC
4. Aaron Wise
Named the 2018 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year days before teeing off at last week’s Shriners Hospitals For Children Open, the 22-year-old star got off to a difficult start in Vegas (1-over 73), but rebounded with rounds of 67-66-66 to finish T15, leading the field in birdies in the process.
Red-hot and killing it off the tees, Wise is already among the elite scorers on Tour, and we see no reason that will not continue at a host course that surrenders myriad low scores.
If his competitors are not fearful that he is ALREADY among the elite scorers on Tour, they have not been paying attention.
World Rank: 52nd
Field Rank: 19th
Last Six: 15, 15, 16, 69, 5, MC
3. Tony Finau
With six consecutive top-15 finishes coming into last week’s Shriners Hospitals For Children Open, and fresh off a season where he posted three runner-ups and 11 top-10s, Finau’s T36 in Vegas fell considerably below expectations for the man who sits at No. 15 in the world rankings.
Perhaps another week in contention was unrealistic, however, as the most recent of those top-15 finishes was a difficult playoff loss to Xander Schauffele in China the week prior. His hectic recent schedule in which he has logged a ridiculous amount of travel miles is still a minor concern, but his talent and recent form still put him easily among the favorites this week in Mexico.
Finau has had success in Playa del Carmen before, using bookend 65s to finish T7 in his event debut in the 2014.
World Rank: 15th
Field Rank: 3rd
Last Six: 36, 2, 10, 15, 8, 4
2. Rickie Fowler
For the second consecutive year, Rickie arrives at Mayakoba as the highest-ranked player in the field (No. 9).
A player who has been exceptional in fall events in recent years, Fowler was solo runner-up last year, largely validating his high status, but some found it disappointing that he was unable to outduel Patton Kizzire, who ranked 236th in the world, in a 36-hole Sunday marathon.
Fowler was the second highest-ranked player in Vegas last week, and while he was quiet over the first three rounds, he was undeniably dialed-in on Sunday, carding birdies on 7 of his last 11 holes to shoot an 8-under 63 and explode into a tie for fourth place.
Rickie is as good a bet as anyone in the field to contend this week, but he continues to face questions about whether he wins enough for such a highly-regarded player. He should be motivated to silence that chatter as the holiday break approaches.
World Rank: 9th
Field Rank: 1st
Last Six: 4, 7, 8, 12, 17, 28
1. Gary Woodland
A blazing final-round 8-under 63 at last week’s Shriners Hospitals For Children Open vaulted Woodland 42 spots up the leaderboard into a tie for 10th.
Woodland is now 3-for-3 on the new season in top-10 finishes, having also finished T5 in Malaysia and solo-second in South Korea. Well-known for his incredible length off the tees, Woodland also ranks inside the top 10 on Tour in greens in regulation, and he has been a scoring machine as of late, currently sitting at No. 2 on Tour in birdie average.
Having finished runner-up to Pat Perez two years ago, Woodland provides the perfect mix of hot current form and great course history.
World Rank: 31st
Field Rank: 10th
Last Six: 10, 2, 5, 11, 12, 24
Next Five: Harold Varner III, Patton Kizzire, Billy Horschel, Keith Mitchell, Emiliano Grillo