Four tips from Niall Lyons in Mexico this week.
Personally a lot of these 'fall' season events do not appeal to me from a punting perspective as the calendar year draws to a close but the Mayakoba has always been once which lends itself to the punter. We have a seaside track often affected by wind whilst plenty of results match up with other courses on tour, most notably the TPC Kuala Lumpur where the CIMB was played a few weeks ago. This course is always soft due to the climate and 20 under par may not be enough to take home the spoils. Birdies are the order of the day and those finishing towards the top of the leaderboard each year rank high in the putting stats for the week. It is important to seize your opportunities here and make plenty of putts. Keeping the ball in play is a must with plenty of hazards awaiting errant tee shots so it is important to be tidy enough whilst navigating your way through the jungle here.
After finishing 2nd on debut here last year and 4th last week it is no surprise to see Rickie Fowler chalked up as the most likely winner here this week. It would take a brave man to go in at single figures however. As we heard talked about last week Dechambeau has now overtaken Fowler in wins on the tour and that doesn't read very well. Having achieved more than most opinion still favours thinking that Fowler has somewhat under performed for his ability in his career to date. This year will be interesting to see how he progresses as under the tutelage of Butch Harmon I would have expected a lot more progression much sooner.
it is almost unthinkable that Jordan Spieth is less than half the price of Abraham Ancer on the exchanges for a PGA Tour event, but alas here we are in 2018 and the Mexican looks a very lively runner this week. I will look to have the Kuala Lumpur link with most of my selections this week as I think it is a solid way to arrive at the golfers with the best prospects in the field. Ancer finished a very impressive tied 5th at the CIMB and has backed that up with another top 5 finish last week at the Shriners. He may not be far off and given he finished 9th here last year must hold every chance. With a growing contingent of Mexican Golfers he looks the brightest talent. He is putting well so far in the early stages of this season ranking 4th in Strokes Gained Putting and fairing pretty well on one putt percentage also. His tail will be up with recent performances and a home win can not be ruled out.
Si Woo Kim has flourished on tracks that require strategy and accuracy off the tee and the course at Mayakoba may just come at the right time given his current form. 10th at the CIMB, 23rd at the CJ Cup and 15th at the Shriners shows he is travelling well and I'd expect another big performance from the Korean who sits just outside that coveted top 50 in the world. The Wyndham and Players Championship are two victories on his CV and his next is likely to be another strategic test off the tee like Mayakoba. He can make plenty of birdies also which has been backed up by him topping the Strokes Gained Putting stats this season to date. The course looks perfect for Kim where he finished 3rd last year and is a must for the betting slips this week
I am extremely surprised to see Scott Piercy largely unbacked in the early stages of this week and I think he holds a lively chance especially when such low numbers are needed here. He shot 15 under to win the Reno Tahoe in 2011, 17 under to win the Canadian Open in 2012, and 19 under to win the Barbasol in 2015. Numerous other close finishes have come at silly numbers under par and he is one to look to when birdies need to be made. He hasn't putted overly well the last few weeks but still posted 5th and 10th at the CJ Cup, and last week at the Shriners. If his putter warms at all he could be a big factor. 4 from 4 at Kuala Lumpur and a 4th place here in 2016. With many still yet to record a victory around him in the betting he certainly looks a bit of value to me.
Finally, Anirban Lahiri won't be on many betting slips this week but he will take a small piece of my staking plan this week. The Indian was at his best when he won around a tight track in his homeland in 2015. He backed that up with a win in Malaysia the same year but has been somewhat out of sorts lately. Nevertheless I think a tighter track with a good degree of strategy off the tee suits Lahiri and coming back to a track he has played well on before might just get the juices flowing. He has posted 14th and 28th here the last two years and has two top tens in Kuala Lumpur. This event is weak and trappy enough that he can make light of quotes of 150/1 if he can conjure up some better memories from here.