Mike Kern picks the Mayakoba Golf Classic, the final event of the season, with some long shots
Where and when to watch: Thursday-Saturday, 2-5 p.m. on The Golf Channel; Sunday, 1-4 p.m. on NBC
It’s the Mayakoba Golf Classic, from Mexico, the final event of the season. And it’s a pretty big one. This will have to be enough to get you by until the Tournament of Champions from Maui early next month.
Last time out, two weeks ago, we had Kevin Kisner at 40-1 as our mid-tier pick. And he lost in a playoff. So we at least managed to cash in on him at 8-1 for a top five and 4-1 for a top 10. Nothing wrong with that, even though we’d obviously rather have the win. We’ve been doing a lot of that lately, which is better than nothing. Right? Hey, we’re trying.
Justin Thomas is the fave, at 6-1. No surprise there. Brooks Keopka is next, at 12-1. He’s starting to get back into form after battling injuries and Covid. He did tie for seventh at the Masters, where nobody was catching Dustin Johnson anyway. Thomas was fourth at Augusta.
Harris English is 14-1. He won this in 2013, was fifth last year. He tied for fourth at the Masters and was sixth in his start before that. But these odds are a little low for him. Tony Finau, who never wins, is 16-1. He’s usually on the leaderboard though. Abraham Ancer is 18-1. He contended for three rounds at Augusta before finishing 13th. And he’s Mexican, so playing in Cancun could be an advantage. He has two seconds this year.
Daniel Berger, who hasn’t played in a month, is 20-1. Russell Henley and Viktor Hovland are 22-1. Rickie Fowler is 25-1. Corey Conners is 28-1. Joaquin Niemann and Will Zatoris are 33-1. Billy Horschel and Charles Howell III are 40-1. Howell has finished in the top 20 in eight of 10 starts here.
Emiliano Grillo, Brian Hartman and Carlos Ortiz are 45-1. Some other names of note: Marc Leishman is 50-1. So is defending champion Brendon Todd. Harold Varner III is 66-1, along with Gary Woodland. I could go on, but you can check out the field for yourself. Oops, almost forgot. Graeme McDowell, who once won here, is 150-1. Might be worth a buck or two just because.
OK, so here goes: I’m going to stay away from Thomas and Koepka. Again just because I’m not a chalk kind of guy. Thomas, by the way, hasn’t played here since 2014, for whatever that might matter.
I like Harris English — I just don’t like his number. But 14-1 ain’t horrible, I guess. Especially if he wins. And he’s plus $350 to get a top five. So back yourself up with that too.
I will also give you another guy near the top. I usually don’t do that. But I gave out Abraham Ancer to a friend of mine who was in a Masters pool. This guy can play, and maybe it turns into a good story in his home country. And he’s plus $500 for a top five. Nice insurance to have.
In the middle tier I’d try Charles Howell III. Maybe not so much to win, although you have to try at least a little of that in case he actually wins. But he’s plus $900 for a top five and $450 for a top 10. He might be capable of at least that.
Along those lines, I would take a shot on Harold Varner III at 66-1. He’s played well here, but he can be a little inconsistent. He’s also plus $1,100 for a top five and $550 for a top 10. Go for it.
You want a really long shot. I give you Wesley Bryant. Not because I know very much (if anything) about him, but because a couple of people this week seemed to like him. In this case that’s good enough for me. But only for something real small, if you’re even so inclined. He’s 250-1, so what the hell. Could be a nice holiday present. And that kind of stuff does happen sometimes. And of course, he’s 55-1 for a top five, and 28-1 for a top 10. So maybe two bucks across the board, if for nothing more than to say you did.
HoI pefully we will catch up again when things start up once more in Hawaii. Until then stay good, and safe. And by all means, have the best holiday season you possibly can, even in these goofy times. You owe it to yourself, and those most important to you.