There are just two events left on the old fall series schedule this side of Christmas and the theme of rookie domination continues. Peter Malnati - 81.00 - was the latest winner of a who's who of rookies to watch, taking down a weather delayed Sanderson Farms event. Playa Del Carmen, Mexico is the next destination - a golfing haven, but rumours are of more storms and potential delays this week.
El Camaleon is a Greg Norman masterpiece that's hosted the now OHL Classic since 2007, but in 2013 the event was moved to the Fall Series section of the calendar. Fedex Cup points are on offer and this has seen an increase in the quality of the fields and the scoring over the last two renewals. Harris English - 29.00 - set the tournament record (263) enroute to victory in 2013. Mayakoba is one of a few resort type stops on Tour.
Matt Kuchar heads up the betting at 10.00 while tournament ever present Chris Stroud comes in at 34.00. Other big names to make the trip are Graeme McDowell - 34.00 - and Charley Hoffman - 41.00 - returns to defend his crown. Recent WGC winner Russell Knox flies in at 29.00 in the betting.
The course - El Camaleon
The Greg Norman designed El Camaleon measures in sub 7,000 yards to a par of 71. It generally plays easy with the main defence being the wind and it usually blows on the Playa Del Carmen. Many course correlations have been mooted about but pay particular attention to two - Waialae and Trump International. The triumvirate are extremely similar in terms of set up and attributes required for success. In short, there's a premium on ball striking in the coastal winds and par 4 scoring. All three events carry a strong theme of experience and point to point golfers. Top ball striker Charley Hoffman led the par 4 scoring stat enroute to success here last year.
Three from the pack
We're all on rookie watch and there's one winner in waiting: Patton Kizzire - 21.00 or 5.00 - who won recently in Utah and also at the News Sentinel Open to help him blitz the Webcom Tour money list last season. He's been an each way money machine since his promotion with T5 - T2 - T4 finishes so far. Patton looks the real deal and his quotes still represent value for me in these weak fields. In my opinion El Camaleon is the perfect course for Patton who ranked 2nd in the all round and 16th in ball striking on the second tour last season. He's already hit the front in scoring average on the PGA Tour and he sits T25 in par 4 scoring.
Another horse for the course is Will Wilcox - 34.00 or 7.50 - who withdrew after an opening 68 at the Sanderson Farms, citing illness. He promptly posted a picture on Twitter of his luxurious hotel room in the Play Del Carmen and assured us all he was fine! What it did was give him extra practice time at the venue in question and he actually teed it up early this week with course specialist, former winner and veteran Fred Funk to get a handle on the El Camaleon track. Will already owns top 10s at both Waialae and Trump International Puerto Rico in his fledgling career and he excelled in every department on last seasons main tour. The American was 2nd in each of the ball striking, total driving and the all round rankings, and his green ball could be the winning one on this set up.
The third standout candidate is a regular feature in this type of test. Johnson Wagner - 61.00 or 13.00 - is a streaky and sticky player who repeatedly plays well on certain layouts. Again the Sony Open at Waialae link appears as 2 of his three wins have come there, and also here at El Camaleon in 2011. Wagner can really excel with the putter when he's hot and he's simmering in 2015 with T48 - T15 finishes, posting four consecutive rounds of 69 at the Sanderson Farms. Wagner ranked 40th in ball striking in 2015. Johnson was T7 in driving accuracy and T4 in greens in regulation at the CC of Jackson and closed out his tournament last week with a back 9 of -5 on the final day so he looks to be on the boil.
Two long priced outsiders on the radar and Zac Blair - 126.0 or 26.00 - has a T6 to his name at the Sony Open which again strikes a chord but a sneaky T4 at the Barclays at the back end of last season really gets the attention. Blair was 23rd in driving accuracy last season and is one I had marked for all events of this ilk. He's another that's been tweeting pictures from the course and he seems positive after a warm up at the CIMB Classic
The other to sneak into my reckoning is the man who started his season last week with a top 10. Brice Garnett produced a display on the par 4s good enough to propel him to 1st in par 4 scoring which I can't ignore. A quick look down his 2014/15 form shows sneaky high finishes on the main tour in strong events including 21st at the Quicken Loans. Notably he was 6th here at El Camaleon and also notched a T11 at the tight, windy plodders paradise known as Harbour Town. Brice's price could be right at 126.0 or 26.00 the place.