The Oh Hell Leave Classic preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
The PGA Tour heads to Mexico in a somewhat timely fashion given the US Presidential election result. No sex, politics nor violence in this column however so we’ll leave that side well alone.
Defending champ Graeme McDowell appears on the tour for the first time this year on the Greg Norman designed El Camaleaon.
Six Mexicans tee it up along with 15 rookies and seven major champions. Sounds great but this event lacks star power and following on from 47-year-old Rod Pampling’s win last week the way looks open for anyone to notch a win. With $7m at stake any win on the tour is a huge achievement well rewarded.
The course played the second easiest par 71 last season coming in at just under 7,000 yards, with McDowell prevailing on 18 under in a three-way playoff. His performance revealed a lot. Tied 16th in fairways and T30th in greens in regulation suggested you need to be on song with the putter (isn’t this always the case?) and surprise, he was: fourth in putts per greens in regulation and T3 in one putt percentage. These greens are 7,000 sq feet and undulating so proximity to the hole is imperative.
That narrative may be challenged this year as the rough has been extended to 2 inches, a half inch more than last year, so it would suggest that the winner will need to keep hitting fairways, hit it close and putt well.
Emiliano Grillo 1pt e/w @ 20/1
Brian Stuard 1pt e/w @ 150/1
Emiliano Grillo: Is not going to go off at 20/1 in this field without my money on. Making his first appearance here the super talented Argentinean screams class. Given his rising status and native tongue he’ll be in demand. Nine top 20’s in his last fifteen starts illustrate a player who despite not actually being at his best can consistently figure. Grillo is long and accurate hitting 75% of greens this year and last year ranked 27th overall – a great effort for a man who hits it nearly 300 on average. Pure class tee to green he made the Tour Finals in his first year and posted a 2nd and 10th.
Still looking for some consistency on the greens he can be streaky but in this field, representing as it does a drop in class, the 24 year old fresh from a week off and on his own continent, should be right up there. He plays well fresh and he tees it up early on Thursday when the winds are likely to be down.
1 pt e/w at $21 with
Brian Stuard: Is no superstar and has very little form in the early stages of 2017 but he has factors that could give him a decent launch pad to do well here. One, he hits a lot of fairways. Ranked 4th in fairways hit in 2016 he’s top ten this year even after a horror showing first up at the Safeway. Second, he had his best year with a breakthrough win in 2016 and third, he’s heading back to an event that suits him and where he’s done well. Not long by any stretch at 275 yards off the tee he will be playing from the fairway a lot and with the added rough that premium could rise. In 136 starts on the PGA Tour Stuard has one win and two runners up finishes and both of those were here. It has to be a reflection of his innate accuracy off the tee and a liking for the paspalum greens.
In 2013 he hit 76.39% and 71.43% of fairways and greens respectively and posted 17 under. He also ranked 16th seasonally last year in proximity to the hole which will be crucial here. If the stars align and he remembers how much he likes these greens his price could look huge on Sunday.
1pt e/w at $151 with