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Mayakoba 2021 DFS picks: Our expert’s favorite plays and fades in this loaded field

November 03, 2021
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New name, same course for the now-dubbed World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. Defending champion Viktor Hovland headlines the strongest field in tournament history—joined by the likes of Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau—with seven players in the top 20 in the world.

The course, El Camaleon, is one of the most unique courses on the PGA Tour with three distinct landscapes. These 18 holes will navigate through sections of mangroves, jungles and even beach-front views. The list of past winners is a mixed bunch: Hovland (2020), Todd, Kuchar, Kizzire and Perez being the last five.

Here are my favorite plays (and fades) in each price range for the 2021 World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba.

Price range: $9,000 and above

High Upside: Tyrrell Hatton ($10,300 DraftKings | $11,100 FanDuel)

Hatton certainly isn’t a safe option, but he’s full of upside. His last two starts were a solid T-18 at the CJ Cup in Las Vegas and a T-2 at the Alfred Dunhill. Without any history at Mayakoba, Hatton is likely to fly under-the-radar this week. His average ownership in his last five starts is 12.7 percent, per the RickRunGood.com golf database, so it’s not like he’s an overly popular player on a weekly basis. Hatton can provide an excellent leverage play near the top of the board this week.

Safest Option: Abraham Ancer ($10,700 DraftKings | $11,400 FanDuel)

Since his victory at the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Ancer has piled up three more top-15 finishes in his past five starts. Now he gets to travel to the friendly confines of El Camaleon, where he has made the cut in five straight years, including four straight top-25 finishes.

Most Likely To Disappoint: Tony Finau ($10,600 DraftKings | $11,600 FanDuel)

They aren’t red flags that I see from Finau at the moment, but definitely yellow flags, asking us to approach with caution. In his last two starts, Finau has lost a combined 9.92 strokes putting. Finau’s putting struggles are often overblown, considering he’s been a tour average putter since the start of last season. However, he does go through these poor putting stretches that significantly cap his upside. Finau’s success this week will likely be determined on the greens.

Pick To Win: Viktor Hovland ($10,900 DraftKings | $11,800 FanDuel)

Hovland will defend a title for the first time in his career this week, after edging out Aaron Wise to win this event last season. The floor for Hovland is so high right now, thanks to his ball-striking advantage on everyone else. Since the start of last season, Hovland has gained 1.24 strokes per round in the ball-striking categories (off-the-tee and approach). That’s second to only Corey Conners of golfers with at least 100 rounds in that span. If Hovland can keep it tight around the greens and find a warm putter, he will contend this week.

$8,000 to $9,000

High Upside: Alex Noren ($8,400 DraftKings | $10,200 FanDuel)

Noren was a popular option at the CJ Cup, where he finished T-59. Most in the industry moved away from Noren as he bounced back the following week with a T-18 at the Zozo Championship. That’s his fifth top-25 finish in his past seven starts, so I’m willing to take a flier on Noren.

Safest Option: Cameron Tringale ($8,900 DraftKings | $10,500 FanDuel)

Another close call for Tringale, who finished T-2 at the ZOZO Championship. He hasn't missed a cut since the Travelers Championship, 10 events ago, and he’s piled up six top-25 finishes during that stretch. He might lack the upside of other golfers, but he’s certainly not short on consistency.

Most Likely To Disappoint: Rickie Fowler ($8,600 DraftKings | $10,000 FanDuel)

What version of Rickie Fowler will we get this week? Will we get the version who was excellent off-the-tee and finished T-3 at the CJ Cup? Or will we get the version who missed his two cuts leading into that event and finished T-44 at a no-cut event (Zozo) in his last start? Your guess is as good as mine. Oddsmakers and fantasy sites aren’t waiting to see—they are pricing Fowler like he’s going to regularly contend again. I’m not quite ready to pay the price.

Pick To Win: Matt Fitzpatrick ($8,800 DraftKings | $10,800 FanDuel)

Quality Sport Images

Fitzpatrick won on the European Tour two weeks ago and backed it up with a T-30 in brutal Bermuda conditions last week. Now onto Mexico, where driving accuracy is rewarded. Fitzpatrick was 17th on tour in driving accuracy last season, and he gained strokes in every major category.

$7,000 to $8,000

High Upside: Adam Long ($7,000 DraftKings | $8,600 FanDuel)

Long has been the definition of “boom or bust” for an entire calendar year. In his past 25 events, he’s missed the cut 17 times but has earned a top-30 finish in every other event. Coming off a T-25 at the Zozo, he heads back to Mayakoba for the third time: He finished T-3 and T-2 in his previous two trips.

Safest Option: Joaquin Niemann ($7,800 DraftKings | $9,800 FanDuel)

There will be a consensus that Niemann is mis-priced, and he will be popular in this range. Niemann has been a cut-making machine, finding the weekend in 32 of his last 33 events. Even with Niemann’s recent putting struggles, he’s found a way to grind through four rounds. I’d expect more of the same here in Mexico.

Most Likely To Disappoint: Charley Hoffman ($7,700 DraftKings |$9,200 FanDuel)

Hoffman has been a staple at this event, playing it eight times in his career. The problem is that he’s often absent on the weekend. Hoffman has missed the cut in five of those eight trips with his best finish being a T-31 in 2013. That’s a sizable sample of sour play at this golf course.

Pick To Win: Russell Knox ($7,300 DraftKings | $8,900 FanDuel)

Cliff Hawkins

The opposite of Hoffman is Knox, who has never missed a cut in seven trips to Mayakoba. In those seven starts, he’s finished better than T-33 each time with three top-10s on his resume. Knox is coming off a T-12 last week in Bermuda—with former tour player Willy Wilcox on the bag (shown)—so he will have plenty of good vibes in Mexico.

$6,900 and below

High Upside: Brian Gay ($6,200 DraftKings | $7,900 FanDuel)

Everyone was on the Brian Gay bandwagon last week, and it’s not time to jump off just yet. Fresh off his T-12 last week, Gay returns to El Camaleon for the 11th time in his career. He has made the cut every year and earned four top-25 finishes, plus a win in 2008.

Safest Option: Sam Ryder ($6,500 DraftKings | $7,800 FanDuel)

By most metrics, Ryder has been one of the most valuable golfers in fantasy this year. He’s gained 20-plus fantasy points on the field in six of his past eight starts. He hasn’t been more than 4 percent owned in any event since the Valero Texas Open, meaning you’ll likely receive plenty of leverage for rostering him. He’s made the cut in eight of his past 10 events, earning two top-seven finishes in the process. There’s just plenty of great value on Ryder all-around.

Most Likely To Disappoint: Danny Lee ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,200 FanDuel)

Lee was awesome last week and despite finishing T-2: He was the highest-scoring fantasy player on the slate. He accomplished that by earning a birdie streak in all four rounds, a feat that only five other golfers have accomplished since 2018, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. It’s hard to imagine Lee having a similar week this time around.

Pick To Win: Guido Migliozzi ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,400 FanDuel)

Cliff Hawkins

Migliozzi’s T-57 last week in Bermuda looks much worse than it actually was. He shot a 77 (+6) on Sunday to sink his finishing position but gained strokes on the field in each of his first three rounds. Migliozzi has now gained strokes in 66 percent of his PGA Tour rounds, per the RickRunGood.com golf database, and has flashed plenty of upside in the last year.

Rick Gehman, founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.