World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba First Round Leader Predictions and Picks

The best picks, strategies, and predictions for the World Wide Technology Championship by PGA expert Tom Jacobs as he previews it here and gives his top picks for the leader after the first round.
Tom Jacobs
Tue, November 2, 11:55 AM EDT

World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba First Round Leader Predictions and Picks

It is time to dive into the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba’s First Round Leader market. This is an event where we have a lot of history, so we can get a good gauge of what will be required in order to post the lead on Thursday.

Click Here For World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba’s Odds

Strategy

How do we go about spotting value in the First Round Leader markets?

Well, this tends to change week-to-week depending on weather and course conditions. Still, we tend to target early tee times when playing Stateside. That seems to give players an edge as they’re out in generally calm conditions, with the best greens and smaller crowds unless in a marquee group, giving them a chance to string together their round in peace.

As it stands, the weather forecast suggests we can go back to our normal line of thinking, that a morning tee time is beneficial, as opposed to the ridiculous weather split we saw last week in Bermuda.

Who in this field started fast on Tour last season?

Here are the 10 fastest starters in the field based on Round 1 Scoring Average in the 2020/21 PGA Tour season.

  • Cameron Tringale (3rd overall in 2020/21 – Scoring Average 69.23) – Low Opening Round – 64 (Farmers Insurance Open)
  • Brian Harman (T5 overall in 2020/21 – Scoring Average 69.37) – Low Opening Round – 65 (Shriners and Open Championship)
  • Scottie Scheffler (T5 overall in 2020/21 – Scoring Average 69.37) – Low Opening Round – 65 (Farmers Insurance Open and FedEx St Jude)
  • Patrick Reed (9th overall in 2020/21 – Scoring Average 69.55) – Low Opening Round – 64 (Farmers Insurance Open)
  • Seamus Power (10th overall in 2020/21 – Scoring Average 69.59) – Low Opening Round – 65 (Barbasol Championship)
  • Russell Henley (T13 overall in 2020/21 – Scoring Average 69.65) – Low Opening Round – 62 (Wyndham Championship)
  • Keegan Bradley (T13 overall in 2020/21 – Scoring Average 69.65) – Low Opening Round - 64 (Valspar Championship)
  • Sergio Garcia (T13 overall in 2020/21 – Scoring Average 69.65) – Low Opening Round – 65 (Three times)
  • Justin Thomas (17th overall in 2020/21 – Scoring Average 69.68) – Low Opening Round – 63 (The Northern Trust)
  • Joaquin Niemann (18th overall in 2020/21 – Scoring Average 69.69) – Low Opening Round – 62 (Sony Open)

What score is required to lead after round 1?

This is, of course, a bit of a guess and subject to change, dependant on the course, but 63 is a good target once again this week. If we average out the leading round 1 scores on the PGA Tour from the 2020/21 season, over 45 individual events, we get an average leading round 1 score of 63.97. If we average out the leading score after Round 1 over 14 renewals of this event, the average score is 63.9. If we isolate it to the years the event was held in November/December as opposed to February, the Round 1 Lead averages out to 63.6. Last year the event started on 6th December, which is later than usual, so Russell Knox’s 65 may not be enough this week. The lowest opening round we have seen here is 62, which has happened three times, including 2017 and 2019. 63 was enough in 2016, and 64 did it in 2018, so over the last five renewals, the average score is 63.2, so I would say 63 then is a good target.

World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba’s Odds

The Favorites

The favorites in this market correlate with the favorites in the outright market. Still, they may provide better value if you think that either one of the favorites can start fast but fade away, or they go wire-to-wire, in which case you could double down with an outright and a first-round leader bet.

Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas has chalked up an impressive eleven leads/co-leads since 2014, and two of those came in 2021. A deeper dive shows two of those came at correlating events, the CIMB Classic and Sony Open, with the latter coming courtesy of a coveted 59.

He opened with a round of 67 on his debut here, but in contrast, he started slowly in 2020, so it’s a mixed bag so far on two occasions, but finishes of T12 and T23 prove he can play this course when in form. Given his ability to start fast and his record here, the price doesn’t look awful for the outright favorite.

Viktor Hovland

Viktor Hovland has just one first-round lead to his name as an individual, and that came on the Korn Ferry Tour, while he also started fast in the Zurich with Kristoffer Ventura. Extending the data to being within three after the first round and we find four other occasions, notably when 3rd after the opening round at the correlating Heritage last year, and the Tour Championship this year.

Hovland tends to grow into the event, as he did last year when saving his best golf for the weekend with rounds of 63 and 65, but his opening 67 wasn’t bad either. At the moment, there is far more evidence that Thomas is a better Thursday player, and I would take him over Hovland on day one if you asked me to pick a favorite.

Abraham Ancer

Abraham Ancer has never finished alone at the top of a leaderboard on a Thursday but has shared the spoils on four occasions. On nine occasions, he’s been in the top-3 after day one, and he is coming into his home event still buoyed by his recent maiden victory and a good effort at the CJ Cup. A fast start wouldn’t surprise me, but I wouldn’t rush to the window to bet on it either.

Tony Finau

Tony Finau has been out in front six times in his career after day one and a half the time on his own, so he’s got a decent record. One of those came in this event back in 2014 when his 65 was matched by five other guys, but this was not only his first start at the course but his first season on the PGA Tour to boot.

A much more experienced player now, and one who has recently doubled his win tally, there is sure to be a lot of positivity right now in Camp Finau, and he can get off to a fast start on a course he enjoys.
He shot 65 in round 1 to lead on his debut and also fired a 67 to start the week last year, so it will be interesting to see if he can do similar this time around. A couple better will probably be required this time around, though.

Billy Horschel

Horschel has a solid bank, of course, form here, notably when 8th and 5th on his past two outings, but he has only once (65 in 2019) broken 70 in the opening round. There is every chance he doubles that tally this week given the form he is in, though, with a win at the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, in recent memory.

Horschel has led three times in his career, and two of those have come at the Tour Championship, so while it is impressive enough, he’s not exactly prolific on day one. He’s been in the top-3 18 times in his career after day one, and his most recent opening-day lead was only a couple of months ago, so maybe he channels that effort again here. I will instead expect a weekend charge from someone who has an excellent chance of winning this week.

First Round Leader Picks

Joaquin Niemann +5000

Joaquin Niemann has a habit of starting fast, shown most recently when firing a 64 to sit 2nd after day one at the ZOZO on his last start. Niemann turned professional in 2018, and since then, he has been inside the top-3 nine times at Thursday’s end, including leads at the Memorial (2018), Tournament of Champions (2020), and the Sony Open (2021), which is a correlating course.

He is very popular in the outright market this week, and for a good reason, but if he is going to go on to win, I think a fast start will be the catalyst. In his sole win at the Greenbrier, he shot a 65 to stay within five of the lead going into Friday, but in his two playoff losses at the Tournament of Champions and the Rocket Mortgage, he sat 1st and 2nd after day one, respectively. Expected to challenge this week, Niemann can certainly start fast at the very least, and I’ll take a chance he does just that at decent odds. Niemann will tee off #10 tee at 7:50 am with Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler.

Stephan Jaeger +9000

In terms of fast starters, there has not been any better in 2021, although most of the evidence is from the lower-level Korn Ferry Tour. Stephan Jaeger led or co-led after the opening round three times in 2021, firing rounds of 66, 65, and 63 in that time. One of those came at the Corales on the PGA Tour, which is a correlating course, and that is just one of the encouraging signs.

Jaeger shot a 58 in round one at the Ellie Mae Classic in 2016, which we flagged as a correlating course in the early preview of this event, and he also opened up with a 65 on this course in 2018 to sit 1 back then as well.

Twice he’s been either the leader or within one of the first-round lead at the Corales, he’s led the Ellie Mae with a ridiculous 58, and he was within 1 here in 2018. Add all that to ridiculous run this calendar year, and I see no reason this improving talent, who has already won seven times at the lower level, can’t at least threaten the day one lead. Rounds of 67, 66 last week when playing in better weather and another 66 in round two of the Sanderson Farms suggest he’s got low rounds in him still at this level. Jaeger will tee off the #10 tee at 8:23 am with Emiliano Grillo and Maverick McNealy.

Danny Lee +9000

I won’t bore you with ALL of the evidence to suggest Danny Lee can stay hot after a good week. Still, the most recent evidence was in 2029 when he finished 2nd at the CJ Cup, following it up with a 10th at the ZOZO and 26th here, after opening with a round of 62 to lead this tournament on day one. Other evidence can be found in when he finished 6th at the RBC Canadian Open in 2018, which he followed with eight-straight made cuts, including a 2nd here. Finally, in 2015, he won the Greenbrier Classic, finished 3rd at his next start at the John Deere, and then missed the cut at the Open Championship, which is easily done. When returning to the US after the Open, he went on to finish 4th at the Quicken Loans and 6th at the WGC Bridgestone.

Three runner-up finishes in his career have come at the Mayakoba, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda, so clearly, he likes this style of golf course, and I think he can parlay good form from last week into a fast start here. He’s got 2nd and 3rd place finishes here and two more top-26’s, so he likes this course. In three of his starts here, he has opened with rounds of 62, 65, and 66 to sit 1st, 4th, and 7th respectively after day one, so he has shown previous on a Thursday here and can ride the high from last week. He’s led/co-led on six occasions around the world in his career and been inside the top-3 a further 14 times, so when he’s in form, he’s certainly worth keeping an eye on, especially at the start of the week. I am not certain he can string it together for four rounds this week in better company, but I certainly think he can set the pace. Danny Lee is first off #10 tee at 6:55 am with Chris Kirk and Jonas Blixt.

Peter Malnati +11000

In 2021 alone, Malnati has opened with a 62 at the Sony (to co-lead), 66 to open at the Farmers (to sit 4th), and a 67 at the Wells Fargo to sit 4th. Rounds of 65 and 66 after an opening-round 70 in tough conditions in Bermuda were positive last week, and he can take that scoring form into a course that should suit.

Malnati has sat inside the top-3 nine times in his career, the first coming at the St. Jude Classic in 2014, when he shot an opening 65, two more than the leader, and he also led the Mexico Championship a year later. The St. Jude is a clear course comp to this, and any form in Mexico should be considered a bonus, so those were pleasing to see.

More encouraging still was his 62 at the Sony earlier this year, the 63 at Bermuda to lead last year, and another opening-65 at the Sony in 2018. His two efforts in Sony are two of the best in his career, as is his effort at the Tournament of Champions (also held in Hawaii) back in 2016. Given his first-round lead at the correlating Sony, the lead at a similar time last year at the Bermuda, and his 65 to open the RSM in November last year also, I am happy to chance a fast start this week. Peter Malnati will tee off #1 tee at 7:17 am with Russell Knox and Scottie Scheffler.

World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba’s Odds

Other 1st Round Leader Considerations

Henrik Stenson +7000

Now it has admittedly been a long career, but Henrik Stenson’s record of 21 Thursday leads/co-leads is excellent, and you don’t have to go back far for the most recent example. Stenson co-led both the Czech Masters in August and the Italian Open in September and now returns to the PGA Tour for the first time since a renaissance in form.

This is also Stenson’s first time playing at this course, which may put some off as he has no experience of playing here, but it is not a difficult course to figure out, as what is required is laid out in front of you.
If you extend the data to how many times Stenson has been inside the top-3 at the end of play Thursday, you get a total of 45 occasions, and it presents us with opening rounds of 64 at the Valspar and 62 at the Wyndham in 2017. So these are both short courses that very much require similar approaches to this, and given the fact Stenson has gone back to hitting his irons well, this could be a nice spot for him. Henrik Stenson will tee off #1 tee at 8:12 am with Adam Long and Garrick Higgo.

Tom Hoge +9000

Tom Hoge has been in pretty decent form this season with four top-36 finishes against one missed cut.
He opened with a 66 here last year to sit 3rd going into Friday, and he’s twice held the lead at the Wyndham, a similarly short course, and the St Jude Classic, a correlating course. He’s also opened with a 65 on two occasions at the Sony Open, another good guide for here.

Hoge has been one of the better players with his approaches over the past eight weeks, and he’s especially good with short irons and wedges in his hands, so I can see him going deep at some point soon on an opening day, and history suggests it could be here. Tom Hoge will tee off #10 tee at 7:17 am with Andrew Putnam and Camilo Villegas.

The “in case the weather dictates an afternoon tee time is better” pick
Last week the tee times wiped out half the field due to adverse weather conditions in the morning, meaning no one in that wave had a chance of a low opening round. That doesn’t look likely again, but should it happen, here’s one player worth taking in the afternoon.

Greyson Sigg +7500

Greyson Sigg has made some fast starts on the Korn Ferry Tour, and he is someone to keep an eye on in the opening round. Also, if his effort last week is anything to go by, as well as his 9th at the Corales, this might be a good course fit. Sigg has made three out of four cuts this season on the PGA Tour and has opened those weeks with rounds of 68, 67, and 68 again. Not low enough to threaten the leaders, but it's good to see him positing in the 60's with regularity on the opening day.

In his career, he has led after round 1 twice, firstly at the Pinnacle Bank Championship where 66 was enough to co-lead, but his second effort was a round of 61 at the Knoxville Open, which saw him hold the outright lead by one stroke. If you extend the data to include times Sigg was in the top-3 after round 1, you get a total of five occasions, and he was never more than one stroke back. 61-65-66-66-64 in those opening rounds shows you the type of scoring Sigg can put together. Sigg will tee off the #1 tee at 1:14 pm with Eugenio-Lopez Chacharra and Taylor Pendrith.

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