Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition of the PGA Tour’s World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba taking place at El Cameleon Golf Club in Mexico.
2022/2023 US PGA Tour
World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba
El Cameleon Golf Club, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Seamus Power held off perennial bridesmaid Thomas Detry to claim his second PGA Tour title at Port Royal GC. The Irishman is once again in the field this week as he aims to force himself into Ryder Cup consideration.
But all eyes will really be on Viktor Hovland this week. The Norwegian phenom will be looking to achieve something that hasn’t been done in over a decade on the tour: win an event for three consecutive years.
Steve Stricker last repeated this feat when he won the 2011 John Deere Classic. In 2020, Hovland won in dramatic fashion after birdieing the 72nd hole at Mayakoba. Last year he romped home to victory by four shots with a record score of 23-under-par.
World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba
The tour stays in idyllic coastal mode this week, switching the picturesque Bermuda setting for the early captivating climes of Mexico. This is a relatively new event that started life in 2007 (this will be the 16th consecutive renewal).
The larger-than-life Fred Funk actually captured the inaugural title at Mayakoba (in what was the first US PGA event to be staged in Mexico this century).
The first six editions of the event were played in February as an opposite-field event to the WGC Match-Play. It switched to a November slot nine years ago but still struggled to attract the truly elite golfers.
But the event singed a new sponsorship deal with World Wide Technology last year, resulting in stronger fields that have helped raise the profile of this event.
El Cameleon Golf Club
Designed by Greg Norman and opened in 2004, El Cameleon is sighted as an extremely unique design that ducks and weaves it way through a variety of landscapes.
It veers from jungles to mangroves before suddenly opening up onto a dramatic oceanfront. It is a wind-affected, coastal track with smaller-than-average Sea Isle Paspalum Greens.
When it was played in February, El Cameleon was regularly one of the more difficult sub-7000-yard tests on the tour. But the event has become much more of a birdie-fest since it switched to the more benign November timeslot (as evidenced by Hovland’s historic scoring last year).
Players will still need to find fairways and avoid the sticky rough if they wish to prosper this week. They will also need to be dialled in with their small irons with these small greens to contend with. Players will also need to putt well in what will likely become an absolute birdie-fest.
Viktor Hovland has enjoyed a pretty solid year and will not shy away from his chance at history this week. But he will have to hold off recently displaced World No.1 Scottie Scheffler.
Scheffler hasn’t been in the greatest of form lately but should feel somewhat motivated by McIlroy’s ascension to the top of the world rankings. Tony Finau has been one of the most consistent golfers over the past six months while Collin Morikawa has dropped off significantly this year.
The evergreen Billy Horschel could contend this week while Seamus Power will look to fortify his Ryder Cup chances with back-to-back PGA Tour victories.
2021: Viktor Hovland (-24)
2020: Viktor Hovland (-20)
2019: Brendon Todd (-20)
2018: Matt Kuchar (-22)
2017: Patton Kizzire (-19)
2016: Pat Perez (-21)
To Win Outright:
Scottie Scheffler 9/1 | Viktor Hovland 11/1 | Tony Finau 16/1 | Collin Morikawa 16/1 | Billy Horschel 18/1
Tom Hoge- To Win 28/1 | To Place 6/1
Few people are striking the ball as consistently as Tom Hoge in recent months. He has begun the season with four consecutive top-20 finishes, marrying his excellent iron play with some solid putting. He ranked fourth in Strokes Gained: Approach and 10th in Strokes Gained: Putting at the CJ Cup. These should prove to be vital stats in a birdie-fest with particularly small greens. And he showed that with a T3 finish here in 2020.
Adam Long- To Win 80/1 | To Place 17/1
My longshot bet this week is course specialist Adam Long. He has played El Cameleon three times previously, with finishes of T22, T3 and T2 respectively. Long obviously knows how to handle these unique Paspalum greens. He is one of the better putters in the field, sitting 7th in SG: Putting over his last 48 rounds. He also sits 28th in the field for SG: Approach in that same time frame.
The Man to Beat- Tony Finau- To Win 16/1 | To Place 7/2
This is a slightly risky choice given the fact that this will be Finau’s first event of the new season. Potential rustiness aside, Finau’s newly discovered capacity to win make him an excellent choice this week. This isn’t the same Finau that was once labelled a flake. He has won three times on tour over the past 15 months. He also has course credentials, picking up two top-eight finishes in his five trips to El Cameleon. Finau’s first win came at the 2016 Puetro Rico Open (highlighting his ability to master these unique paspalum greens).