Best bets for DP World Hero Indian Open, LIV Mayakoba

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Thorbjorn Olesen was victorious at last week’s Thailand Classic posting a score of 24 under to win by four strokes over Yannik Paul. Olesen cashed as an outright winner for us at 22-1 and gave us our second outright winner (fourth overall in 2023) on the DP World Tour this year. Rounding out the top 5 were Joost Luiten and Alexander Knappe, who finished T-3, along with Antoine Rozner (another one of our tips last week), Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Nicolai Hojgaard, who finished T-5.

Olesen is back at it this week as the 11-1 favorite in the Hero Indian Open. Hojgaard, who was in the final pairing on Sunday with Olesen, follows on the odds board at 12-1. Robert MacIntyre is next at 14-1. Paul (20-1), last week’s runner-up, led the field in Thailand for Strokes Gained: Tee To Green. Jeunghun Wang (22-1) was in the mix for contention last week due to his strong iron play (second in the field for Strokes Gained: Approach) before setting for eighth.

 

Joost Luiten (22-1), a six-time DP World Tour winner, finished T-3 last week for his best finish anywhere since 2019. Oliver Bekker (22-1) earned a win two weeks ago in the Dimension Data Pro-Am on the Sunshine Tour in his native South Africa. Edoardo Molinari (28-1) finished 17th in Thailand last week. Kazuki Higa (30-1) was on the first page of the leaderboard last week courtesy of his putter (second for Strokes Gained: Putting) before finishing T-11.

 

The Event

The Hero Indian Open makes its return to the DP World Tour for the first time since 2019 as it was canceled each of the last three years because of COVID-19. The event was co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian Tour, but this year it is now under DP World Tour and Professional Golf Tour of India auspices.

The Course

The Gary Player-designed DLF Golf & Country Club has played host to this event since 2017. It is a challenging par-72, 7,380-yard track with a great deal of undulation that includes narrow fairways and thick rough. The course is considered one of the tougher ones in all of Asia. Only 26 players finished under par in 2019. Accuracy will be at a premium and the winner will need to embrace the grind that comes with playing this track.

Fairways are fairly narrow, and water features heavily on six holes, including the par-3 fifth, which is to an island green as the front nine (the “Lake 9”) meanders around the two lakes that the course flanks. The back nine (the “Quarry 9”) is the longest of the two and contains the holes with the most elevation change. Bermudagrass has been used throughout the construction with Mini Verde the strain of choice on the greens.

Recent History/Results

2019: Stephen Gallacher -9/279; 150-1

2018: Matt Wallace -11/277; 66-1*

2017: SSP Chawrasia -10/278; 80-1

Playoff win over Andrew Johnston – *

Kapil Dev – Grant Thornton Invitational

2022: Varun Parikh -11/277

Selections

Jeunghun Wang (25-1, Superbook Sports)

Wang was second in last week’s Thailand Classic field for Strokes Gained: Approach en route to a finish of eighth. He was also third the week prior in Singapore.

A South Korean, Wang has been in contention in four of his 11 starts since returning from his required military service.

Kazuki Higa (28-1, DraftKings)

Higa earned his DP World Tour card last year with four victories on the Japan Golf Tour in 2022.

He was 11th last week in Thailand courtesy of finishing second in the field for Strokes Gained: Putting.

Pablo Larrazabal (30-1, BetMGM)

Larrazabal was fourth here on debut in 2018 and was third after 54 holes in 2019 before finishing 39th.

The Spaniard is a proven winner and won twice in the early part of the calendar last year and can do so again on a tactical layout.

Alexander Knappe (55-1, BetMGM)

Knappe ranked sixth in the field for Ball Striking in Singapore (34th) and was third in the category on the way to a T-3 finish in Thailand last week.

He finished a respectable 17th on debut here in 2017.

Alex Fitzpatrick (90-1, Caesars Sportsbook)

This is a pure “narrative street” play as the younger brother of U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick makes his 2023 debut this week.

Perhaps watching Netflix’s new series "Full Swing" and reliving his brother’s career triumph in Episode 5 this past week gives him some positive mojo.

LIV Mayakoba

The site of the PGA Tour event at Mayakoba now moves to LIV Golf and opens its 2023 season as El Camaleon was designed by its CEO Greg Norman.

Dustin Johnson heads up the field this week at 8-1 along with Joaquin Niemann. Cameron Smith (10-1) and Abraham Ancer (11-1), a winning tip for us in the Saudi International at 30-1, follow in the market. At 16-1 are Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia and new LIV addition Thomas Pieters. Patrick Reed and Talor Gooch both open at 18-1 while Matthew Wolff and another new LIV addition in Mito Pereira open at 20-1.

The Event

The Mayakoba Golf Classic debuted on the PGA Tour in February 2007 as an alternate event that was held opposite the WGC Match Play. In 2013, the event was moved to November as part of the PGA Tour’s Fall Series. With that move, the tournament became designated as a "full event" meaning that full FedEx Cup points would be allocated along with a Masters invitation for the winner and over a 60% increase in the overall tournament purse.

The PGA Tour still has an event south of the border with the Mexico Open at Vidanta in late April, but it remains to be seen whether it adds another event to replace Mayakoba for the fall of 2023.

The Course

The scenic El Camaleon Golf Club is a resort course that was designed by Greg Norman in 2006 and has been the host course for this event each year since 2007. It is part of the all-inclusive Mayakoba Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and sits about 50 miles south of Cancun near the northeastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. The track is the ninth shortest on the PGA Tour and plays at just over 7,000 yards (7,034) and is a 36/35 format par-71 layout. The course runs through dense tropical jungle, mangrove forests and oceanfront. The tree-lined fairways, which protect the players from the wind even though this is a coastal resort course, are of average width and constructed from Sea Isle Paspalum. The rough at two inches is not all that penal, but the jungles and canals can punish errant tee shots. Due to the Paspalum surfaces, the ball tends to sit up higher on this grass, which allows for elite ball strikers to have the most success. The greens, of the same surface, are relatively slow on the stimpmeter (10 feet). The Paspalum green complexes (7,000 square feet average, ninth largest on tour) are similar to what players see at the Puerto Rico Open and Corales Puntacana Championship. Low scores are the norm here and if you look at the previous winners, the driver is not required much.

As for the course layout, the four par-3s were the easiest on tour, averaging 2.87 per hole. Three of the four holes measure under 155 yards with the 116-yard fourth hole playing as one of the shortest anywhere. Meanwhile, the three par-5s are also among the shortest and easiest on tour as well. The longest plays at just over 570 yards, making all three reachable in two shots provided the wind cooperates. The five par-4s that measure over 450 yards are the tougher holes on the course.

This 36/35 setup always plays easier on the outward nine, which features two of the three par-5s.

The closing stretch from the 14th onward will test the leaders come Sunday.

Correlated courses to El Camaleon include Waialae, Port Royal, Sedgefield, Sea Island, Harbour Town, Corales and Pebble Beach.

Recent History/Winners

2022: Russell Henley (-23/261); 55-1

2021: Viktor Hovland (-23/261); 18-1

2020: Viktor Hovland (-20/264); 22-1

2019: Brendon Todd (-20/264); 110-1

2018: Matt Kuchar (-22/262); 60-1

2017: Patton Kizzire (-19/265); 70-1

2016: Pat Perez (-21/263); 125-1

2015: Graeme McDowell (-18/266); 33-1 *

2014: Charley Hoffman (-17/267); 60-1

2013: Harris English (-21/263); 25-1

2012: John Huh (-13/271); 35-1**

2011: Johnson Wagner (-17/267); 150-1*

2010: Cameron Beckman (-15/269); 100-1

Playoff win over Jason Bohn and Russell Knox – *

Playoff win over Robert Allenby – **

Playoff win over Spencer Levin – ***

Note: These are the winners from the PGA Tour event at Mayakoba.

Selections

Mito Pereira, 20-1

Pereira has started well in 2023 with a T-6 at the Saudi International and then a T-11 in the International Series Oman the following week on the Asian Tour.

He also might have a bit of extra motivation in his LIV debut after having to relive giving away last year’s PGA Championship watching the Netflix series "Full Swing."

Carlos Ortiz, 33-1

Ortiz finished runner-up here twice (2019, 2021) in the PGA Tour event held at Mayakoba.

His Mexican compatriot Abraham Ancer already has a win in 2023 and is the trendy pick to win this week, but Ortiz will be plenty motivated to win in his home country.

Jason Kokrak, 50-1

Kokrak started 2023 with a T-18 in Saudi Arabia and a T-13 in Oman.

Danny Lee, 100-1

It has been a tumultuous week for Lee after he missed the cut at Riviera. He was set to play in this week’s Honda field but officially signed with LIV.

He starts at Mayakoba where he has gone well before finishing T-7 in 2021 and runner-up to Matt Kuchar in 2018.