World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba 2021 picks: How Brooks Koepka changed our minds
Mayakoba has been good to us. This column is 2-for-3 in past seasons betting this event: Pat Mayo nailed Matt Kuchar winning Mayakoba in 2018 (60-1 odds) and our anonymous caddie picker hit Viktor Hovland last year (20-1). Prior to Hovland, Mayakoba has been a week for middle- to longshots. That trend is likely not to continue with such a strong field, including seven of the top 20 players in the world here.
Last year, in addition to hitting Hovland, these authors also cashed a ticket on Brooks Koepka missing the cut. Now, the headline for this column endorses betting Koepka. What gives? One of our experts is relying on a philosophy that has served some golf bettors well recently: Betting on a golfer with high win equity once his odds drift to a certain level. Koepka’s 33-1 odds imply a win probability of around 3 percent, yet if you look at our Rick Gehman’s tournament simulator tool at RickRunGood.com, his modeling shows Koepka winning this event closer to 9 percent of the time.
That’s a serious edge, and if the oddsmakers make a mistake like that in setting the lines, it’s time to pounce. So let’s get another victory at Mayakoba in this column—powered by our betting panel: Mayo; Gehman; our anonymous caddie; your authors; Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel and Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports.
Scroll down for our full analysis for the 2021 World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba.
Mayakoba 2021 picks: Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Patrick Reed (35-1, PointsBet) — I love what I saw last week. Reed showed his game’s back after his weird double pneumonia saga. His short game was on in Bermuda, but more importantly he was top 12 in the field in GIR. If his iron game’s on, he’s going to give himself a great chance of rolling in some putts. And you’re getting someone who can flat out win out here.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Tyrrell Hatton (30-1, DraftKings) — After a rough season, Hatton was one of the few bright spots for the Euros at the Ryder Cup, and he’s been solid afterward. After a runner-up at the Alfred Dunhill, he squeezed out a T-18 in a difficult field at the CJ Cup—a week where he was severely limited by his distance. Distance won’t be much of a factor this week—it’s mainly all about irons and putting—two areas where Hatton has proved he's elite. This is a solid price for the world’s 17th-ranked player.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Viktor Hovland (19-1, FanDuel) — We’re asking for a back-to-back winner here, but the price on Hovland has shifted significantly from 14-1 to 19-1, making him a bettable option at the top. Nobody in the field has the combination of distance and accuracy that Hovland does, so he can get it done again. He’s second in my win simulation model (5.2 percent).
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Viktor Hovland (19-1, FanDuel) — Hovland is geared up for the first title defense of his young career, winning this event last season by a stroke over Aaron Wise. The foundation of his game is ball-striking, gaining 1.24 strokes per round in the unofficial category since the start of last season. Of golfers on tour with at least 100 rounds in that span, only Corey Conners has been better than Hovland, per the RickRunGood.com golf database.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Scottie Scheffler (35-1, PointsBet) — We’ve been waiting for the Scheffler breakout … and I’ve been betting on it happening for the past year-plus. Mayakoba was a huge breakthrough spot here for Hovland last year, so why can’t Scheffler also ball-strike his way to a W?
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Brooks Koepka (33-1, FanDuel) — System play. What’s the system, you ask? Bet Brooks when he’s north of 30-1 no matter the tournament, don’t ask questions, reap the rewards.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Justin Thomas (16-1, FanDuel) — Thomas is a worthy favorite this week. His brilliant all-around game means he ranks first in FanShare Sports' course-suitability ranking this week. He also ranks first in the field for strokes-gained/total over the past two years and second for Opportunities Gained over the past two months.
Past results: Golf Digest's betting panel had another strong season in 2020-’21, correctly predicting 14 winners in the last 28 events of the year. We’re already off to a hot start in the new season, too, with Rick Gehman hitting Sam Burns (16-1) at the Sanderson Farms Championship and Stephen Hennessey hitting Hideki Matsuyama (12-1) at the Zozo Championship.
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," (above) where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
Mayakoba 2021 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses
Caddie: Adam Hadwin (100-1, PointsBet) — Adam Hadwin is not a sexy bet. But the guy led the field in greens in regulation last week—and that was after getting the tough side of the draw. His game was on point heading into last week and he still battled to a decent finish. You’ll need a hot putter this week, and the guy has shot a 59 in his career … these are nice odds considering he was 35-1 last week.
Mayo: Carlos Ortiz (80-1, DraftKings) — Ancer is the Mexican player with the most expectations, which takes some of the pressure off Ortiz. And this course, and similar tracks, have been kind to him over the years. King Carlos has cranked out top 10s at Mayakoba each of the past two years and enters in excellent ball-striking form since the swing season started. The putter has been dismal, but a switch to the familiar paspalum greens could very well sort that out.
Gdula: Kevin Streelman (70-1, FanDuel) — I have Streelman in the 94th percentile among this field in long-term adjusted (for field strength and recency) strokes gained, and he brings with him elite irons to Mexico. He is making cuts but not finishing well, so the price would be higher if he had been converting on the finishes.
Gehman: Adam Long (150-1, BetMGM) — Long has been boom or bust, by his own standards, for the last six months. In his last 13 starts, he’s missed the cut seven times. In the other six events, he’s earned a top-30 finish. This will be his third trip to Mayakoba, finishing T-2 and T-3 in his previous two starts. He’s certainly high risk/high reward, but that’s acceptable at these long odds.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Seamus Power (75-1, FanDuel) — Power’s fresh off a T-12 in Bermuda where he was also T-12 in GIR. Now he comes to a birdie-fest, which is up his alley: He’s ninth in this field in the past 24 rounds in birdies or better gained, per FantasyNational.com.
Powers, Golf Digest: Patrick Rodgers (100-1, FanDuel) — One more ride on the P-Rodge train for me this week. This number is too enticing for a guy fresh off a solo fourth, even though he left a lot to be desired on the weekend.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Maverick McNealy (55-1, PointsBet) — McNealy comes into this event ranked top 15 in the field for strokes gained at El Chameleon and 10th for SG/total over the last two months. Previous finishes here of 26th and 12th shows just how much he likes the course.
Mayakoba 2021 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Tony Finau (25-1, PointsBet) — This course is the opposite of Liberty National. Take driver out of Tony’s hands, and you’re mitigating his best weapon.
Mayo: Abraham Ancer (16-1, DraftKings) — Nothing against Ancer, he actually seems perfectly suited for this course, but the fact he has become the betting favorite in some spots over Justin Thomas means there’s just no value left in this number.
Gdula: Justin Thomas (16-1, FanDuel) — I like Thomas as a daily fantasy play on FanDuel, but between he, Ancer and Hovland, he’s the least likely winner in my win simulations, and they’re the only three with steep asking prices. I’d just be more inclined to bet Abe or Hovland, so by nature, Thomas emerges as an overvalued fade option.
Gehman: Charley Hoffman (80-1, BetMGM) — Hoffman has made the cut in seven straight PGA Tour events but that streak will be put to the test this week. In eight trips to Mayakoba, Hoffman has missed the cut five times and has never cracked the top 30. This is shaping up to be the strongest field in tournament history, which will make the task even more difficult for Hoffman this week.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Billy Horschel (22-1, BetRivers) — Billy Ho at 22-1 and Koepka at 33-1? I know Billy Ho won in Europe recently, but that's wack.
Powers, Golf Digest: Abraham Ancer (16-1, DraftKings) — Love Abe and would love to see him win in Mexico, but I can’t bring myself to bet him at shorter odds than Justin Thomas.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Brooks Koepka (33-1, FanDuel) — Koepka comes into this event in poor form. He ranks just 85th in the field this week for SG/total over the past two months. He has missed the cut both times he has played this event and doesn’t have enough experience at similar courses to even generate a course-suitability ranking this week.
Mayakoba 2021 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Viktor Hovland (-143) over Tony Finau (Caesars Sportsbook) — You read above why I’m fading Finau this week: And you’re getting the defending champion here, who has been playing some of the best golf of anyone over the past four to five months. The consistency with Hovland at a venue he likes should be a no-brainer.
Mayo: Justin Thomas (-105) over Abraham Ancer (DraftKings) — I never thought I’d see the day where Ancer is a heavier fave than JT, but here we are. Seems like a great time to get in on Thomas.
Gdula: Ian Poulter (-108) over Christiaan Bezuidenhout (FanDuel) — These two have virtually identical games, but Poulter is a more accurate driver and has given himself more birdie chances over the past 50 rounds, via FantasyNational.
Gehman: Aaron Wise (-105) over Scottie Scheffler (Bet365) — The hype is real right now on Aaron Wise, who ranked 25th in SG/tee-to-green last season. And now he’s made huge strides with his putter. He’s now gained strokes putting in four of his past six measured events, something that would have been seemingly impossible just a few months ago. Armed with this new-found scoring club, Wise is set to make plenty of noise this week.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Emilano Grillo (-118) over Brian Harman (FanDuel) — Rick Gehman pointed this out in his 300 Yards to Unknown podcast this week: Grillo leads this field in SG/total in events played on Paspalum greens. That might be an edge here against Harman, who hasn’t had a top 25 since July.
Powers, Golf Digest: Rickie Fowler (-120) over Justin Rose (DraftKings) — Purely a fade on Rose, who was shockingly bad at the CJ Cup. Fowler, meanwhile, has shown plenty of life of late and has great history at Mayakoba.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Scottie Scheffler (-120) over Brooks Koepka (Betfair) — As you can see above, I expect Koepka to struggle this week. Scheffler on the other hand should have a decent week. He comes into the event ranked eighth for Opportunities Gained over the last two months and 23rd in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking.
Matchup Results from the Bermuda Championship: Caddie: 1 for 1 (Ramey (+100) over Schwab); Powers: 1 for 1 (Rodgers (-110) over Jaeger); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Reed (-118) over Pereira); Gehman: Push (Pereira (+115) over Fitzpatrick); Mayo: 0 for 1; Gdula: 0 for 1; Hennessey: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 5-1-0 (up 3.57 units); Caddie: 4-2-0 (up 1.96 units); Powers: 4-2-0 (up 1.82 units); Gehman: 2-3-1 (down 1.26 units); Gdula: 1-5-0 (down 4.07 units); Hennessey: 1-5-0 (down 4.09 units); Alldrick: 1-4-1 (down 3.15 units)
Mayakoba 2021 picks: Top 10s
Caddie: Cameron Tringale (+400, PointsBet) — This is the way to bet on Tringale. He has 11 top-25 finishes in 2021 … OK, maybe a top-20 is a better bet.
Mayo: Lucas Herbert (+900, DraftKings) — Last week’s winner usually perseveres in gustier conditions, but he can follow a similar path to last week. Don’t get too wild off the tee in favour of accuracy and wedge this course to death. Obviously, it’s tough winning one week on the PGA Tour, so two is a massive ask, but if he can roll his form another week he’ll have a chance to contend again at a birdie fest.
Gdula: Chez Reavie (+950, FanDuel) — Reavie just gets bumped up when we have an accuracy-friendly course. He is the field leader in fairways gained over the past 50 rounds, via FantasyNational, and he has four top-26 finishes at El Camaleon.
Gehman: Billy Horschel (+300, DraftKings) — Horschel might fly under the radar this week, playing his last two events on the European Tour. Those events resulted in a win at the BMW PGA Championship and a T-36 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Now he travels to Mayakoba where he’s earned five top-30 finishes in his six starts including back-to-back top 10s in the last two years.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Adam Hadwin (+750, FanDuel) — I don’t quite have the confidence our caddie does in Hadwin winning against this stacked field, but he has a pair of top-10 finishes at Mayakoba in the past … so this is a good bet.
Powers, Golf Digest: Chris Kirk (+700, DraftKings) — Kirk will be a must-play in two weeks at RSM, but I’d love to be early on him here. He’s one hot putting week away from seriously contending, having gained strokes tee-to-green and on approach in eight of his last nine measured events.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Brian Gay (20-1, DraftKings) — Gay’s excellent around the green and putting game means he ranks fourth in the FanShareSports Course Suitability Ranking on this short Paspalum course this week. He comes into this event off the back of a 12th-place finish last week. Gay has made the cut all 10 times he has played here and has a victory to his name here.
Top-10 results from the Bermuda Championship: Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Patrick Rodgers +550; Everybody else: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Powers: 2 for 6 (up 13 units); Mayo: 1 for 6 (up 9 units); Caddie: 1 for 6 (down 3.3 units); Hennessey: 1 for 6 (up 0.5 units); Gdula: 0 for 6 (down 6 units); Gehman: 0 for 6 (down 6 units); Alldrick: 0 for 6 (down 6 units)
Mayakoba 2021 picks: One and Done
Gehman: Abraham Ancer — Ancer earned his maiden victory at the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational a few months back and he hasn’t slowed down since. He’s earned three more top-15 finishes in the five events that he’s played since, meaning he’s finished inside the top 15 in 10 of his past 15 starts worldwide. He’s made the cut in five straight years at this event, and the past four have all produced top-25 finishes.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Kevin Na; Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Louis Oosthuizen. Zozo Championship: Hideki Matsuyama. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power.
Hennessey: Aaron Wise — Wise’s odds are fishy this week, and if you aren’t betting him outright, this is a good way to deploy him.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo; Sanderson Farms Championship: Carlos Ortiz. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Collin Morikawa. Zozo Championship: Takumi Kanaya. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power.
Powers: Jhonattan Vegas — The big Venezuelan has been playing at a very high level for six months now, and he’s got solid course history at El Camaleon. When else are you going to use him?
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Brendan Steele. Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Aaron Wise. CJ Cup: Talor Gooch. Zozo Championship: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda Championship: Patrick Rodgers.
By The Numbers
1.87 — The strokes gained per round for Russell Knox at Mayakoba in 28 rounds. That’s the most of any golfer on TOUR with at least 11 rounds played.
+3300 — The current betting odds for Aaron Wise, the shortest he’s been in any of his past 17 tournaments. Average odds of those events: 111-1.
20.4 — The average winning score, under-par, for the last five years at this event. Matt Kuchar holds the tournament record at 22-under when he won in 2018.
27.5 — The average finish for Brian Gay in 10 trips to Mayakoba. He’s never missed the cut, and he won here in 2008.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the 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.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.