Our golf scribe gives his best bets for the 2016 OHL Classic which gets underway this Thursday
The OHL Classic is the only regular PGA tour event to be held in neighboring Mexico. While it clearly hasn’t attracted the crème de le crème if the golfing elite, it doesn’t prevent this from being a particularly interesting venture for the average punter. The absence of the top players leads to many outside possibilities becoming far more plausible, meaning that those nightmarish odds for - say - Charles Howell III in a Memorial Tournament - suddenly start to have some appeal for those eagle eyes out there.
Another factor that makes this OHL something of a leveling experience is its length. At only 7,034 yards in length, ‘El Camaleon’ is one of the shortest courses on the PGA Tour and rewards good old fashioned accuracy off the tee and course management. Graeme McDowell’s victory here last season exemplified this fact. In fact, all three of the players to make the playoff last season were in the top fifteen for driving accuracy.
McDowell returns to defend his title while several of the players take a hiatus from events. There are some strong players in the field, however, with last season’s sensational Emiliano Grillo jumping out at you. Elsewhere, Ryder Cup reject, Russell Knox, looks to go one better than last season while Jim Furyk makes a return to competitive action. All in all, this could be a fascinating curative to the ordinarily bombastic pyrotechnics that accompany the booming elite.
The OHL Classic | Thursday 10 November - Sunday 13 November | El Camaleon Golf Club
2015: Graeme McDowell (-18) *playoff | 2014: Charley Hoffman (-17) | 2013: Harris English (-21) | 2012: John Huh (-13) *playoff | 2011: Johnson Wagner (-17)
To Win Outright
Russell Knox (14/1) | Jon Rahm (18/1) | Emiliano Grillo (20/1) | Jim Furyk (25/1), Keegan Bradley (28/1)
Si-Woo Kim To Win (40/1) & To Place (88/10)
The 21-year-old had an excellent year last season, fighting his way all the way to East Lake. He picked up his first PGA title at a competitive Wyndham Championship: Wyndham is also a course none too dissimilar from this one. He was in the top third of the tour in driving accuracy last season and has a solid tee-to-green game. He also sat in a solid third in the halfway mark here last year, hitting 27 of the first 28 fairways in regulation. He has also contended at the Sony Open, a corollary course that shares many traits with ‘El Camaleon’.
Jim Furyk To Win (25/1) & To Place (55/10)
Jim Furyk has not played since September, one fact that may dissuade the average punter. But one thing that we know for certain is that the evergreen American is deadly accurate off the tee. He also has two top six places in his last three visits to TPC San Antonio, a similar course that usually helps correlate. This is less a tip based on tangible statistics and more intuition. Furyk - when fit - is perhaps the most dependable player tee to green and he will relish an opportunity to perform with the importance of driving distance greatly minimized.
Cody Gribble To Win (80/1) & To Place (17/1)
I think that Cody’s dramatic drop to 80-1 on the back of one sub-par result at the Shriners is a little too hasty for my liking. On the back of an impressive tie for 8th at the Safeway Open, Gribble captured his first PGA Tour title at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He clearly is in tremendous form and lest not forget that this is hardly the most competitive field. Many of the higher ranked players have had substantially less golf and may succumb to a player such as Gribble.