PGA Tour Picks: Mayakoba Golf Classic

By Tom LaMarre

The PGA Tour returns on Thursday after a week off, with defending champion Matt Kuchar and Jason Day of Australia leading the field for the Mayakoba Golf Classic at El Camaleon Golf Club › camaleon at Mayakoba Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Kooch won by a single stroke over Danny Lee of New Zealand a year ago, while Day is playing in the tournament for the first time since 2009, when he tied for 28th.

“I am really excited to add Mayakoba to my schedule,” said Day (pictured), who last month won The Challenge: Japan Skins against Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama before tying for 22nd in the Zozo Championship, bouncing back from an opening 73.

“I recall my visit from 10 years ago and how incredible the venue is. I look forward to seeing how Mayakoba has grown and evolved. You hear such amazing things about the property and the tournament’s warm hospitality from other players out on Tour so I’m sure my family and I will have a wonderful week.”

Day, who has won 12 times on the PGA Tour, and Kuchar, who has nine titles on the circuit, also will use the tournament as part of their preparation for the Presidents Cup next month at Royal Melbourne in Australia, along with several other players.

Joaquin Niemann of Chile, Adam Hadwin of Canada, C.T. Pan of Taiwan and home favorite Abraham Ancer of Mexico will play along with Day on the International team, while Tony Finau will be on the United States team with Kuchar.

Day is one of four major champions in the field, joining Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, who is one of Woods’ vice-captains for the President’s Cup.

In addition to Kuchar, former Mayakoba champions playing this week are Brian Gay (2008), John Huh (2012), Harris English (2013), Charley Hoffman (2014), McDowell (2015), Pat Perez (2016) and Patton Kizzire (2017).

Ancer leads the Mexican contingent that also includes Carlos Ortiz and Kristoffer Ventura), while there are several others from south of the U.S. border, including Niemann and Sebastian Muñoz of Colombia, winners already on the PGA Tour in the new season.

And the Mayakoba is another chance for the growing contingent young guns to shine.


  1. Jason Day, Australia – Beat Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama to win the The Challenge: Japan Skins with a birdie on the last hole before tying for 22nd in the Zozo Championship. Day, the 2015 PGA champion, has won 12 times on the PGA Tour and has 16 titles in his career, the last coming in 2018 Wells Fargo Championship.
  2. Tony Finau, United States – Playing for the first time since Tiger Woods made him a Captain’s Pick for the Presidents Cup, will try to pick up his game after finishing out of the top 50 in the Zozo Championship and the WGC-HSBC Champions following a tie for ninth in the Shriners. Finau tied for seventh in 2015 Mayakoba and tied for 16th last year.
  3. Matt Kuchar, United States – Kooch led the FedEx Cup standings for much of last season after winning the Mayakoba and the Sony Open in Hawaii, before finishing third in the final standings. He’s making his season debut after also finishing second twice among eight top-10s last season, and tied for third in the 2008 Mayakoba Classic.
  4. Joaquin Niemann, Chile – Turned 21 earlier this month but already has his first PGA Tour victory in the Military Tribute at the Greenbrier after winning six times in South America. Niemann also finished in a tie for 12th in the CJ Cup at Nine this season, and figures to dramatically improve on his tie for 60th in the Mayakoba Classic last season.
  5. Adam Hadwin, Canada – Another one of Ernie Els’ Captain’s Picks for the Presidents Cup, Hadwin has finished second in the Safeway Open and tied for fourth in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He has one PGA Tour victory, in the 2017 Valspar Championship, and tied for 10th in the Mayakoba Classic in 2017 and again last season.
  6. Danny Lee, New Zealand – Came up one stroke short of Matt Kuchar in the Mayakoba Classic last year in search of his second PGA Tour victory, the only one coming in the 2015 Greenbrier Classic in a playoff. In his last two outings, Lee finished second in the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges and tied for 10th in the Zozo Championship.
  7. Aaron Wise, United States – The 2018 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, who won the AT&T Byron Nelson by three shots that year, is coming off a tie for third two weeks ago in the Bermuda Championship after shooting 65 in the second and final rounds. Making his fourth trip to Mayakoba and tied for 10th last year thanks to a 63 in the third round.
  8. Abraham Ancer, Mexico – Obviously impressed Ernie Els by winning the 2018 Australian Open and tying for fourth in the WGC-HSBC Champions two weeks ago, because Els picked him to be the first Mexican player in the Presidents Cup. Ancer makes his fifth start at Mayakoba, tying for ninth two years ago and tying for 21st last season.
  9. Brendan Todd, United States – Had a week to savor his second PGA Tour victory in the Bermuda Championship by four strokes, after also winning the 2014 HP Byron Nelson Championship by two shots. Todd, who also won four times on lower tours, missed four cuts before tying for 28th in Houston Open ahead of his win In Bermuda.
  10. Sebastian Munoz, Colombia – Another of the first-time winners on the PGA Tour in the 2019-20 season, having won the Sanderson Farms Championship, Munoz also tied for seventh in the Military Tribute at the Greenbrier and tied for 28th in the Houston Open. Munoz showed in could win with four victories on lower tours, including the

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH – Jason Dufner, United States; Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland; Billy Horschel, United States; Chez Reavie, United States; Roberto Diaz, Mexico; Rory Sabbatini, Slovakia; Zach Johnson, United States; Luke Donald, England; Martin Laird, Scotland.


  1. Scottie Scheffler, United States – Opened with 62 and was T-3 in Bermuda, and also had 62 in a T-7 at Safeway Open after winning twice on Korn Ferry Tour last season.
  2. Xinjun Zhang, China – Korn Ferry Tour points leader last season has T-4 in Houston Open and T-7 in Safeway early this season. Has claimed six professional victories
  3. Viktor Hovland, Norway – Had his streak of 18 straight rounds in the 60s snapped earlier this season, and also finished in the top 20 in five consecutive tournaments.
  4. Harry Higgs, United StatesPosted four rounds in the 60s to finish second, four shots behind Brendon Todd in Bermuda. Won on lower tours each of last two seasons.
  5. Hank Lebioda, United StatesClosed with a 63 to finish in a tie for third two weeks ago in the Bermuda Championship. Won 2017 Mackenzie Open on PGA Canada Tour.

For first-round tee times visit

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