Welcome to my LIV golf betting picks series, RotoBallers. The LIV Golf Series begins year number two this week! If you are a resident of the United States, you can watch all action live on the CW Network or stream live from the CW App or website. If you are outside of the United States, be sure to check Livgolf.com for details on streaming options.
This week we head to El Camaleon Mayakoba Golf Course in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. If the name sounds familiar, it is because this course has played host to the World Wide Technology Classic at Mayakoba on the PGA Tour since 2007. It is no surprise that El Camaleon has made the change over to the LIV circuit as LIV has made an extensive effort to sign Latin American players, including the top two Mexican players in the world Abraham Ancer and Carlos Ortiz. When appearing on the Draws N Fades Podcast, Abraham Ancer spoke candidly about pushing to get a LIV tournament in Mexico leading up to this season.
El Camaleon Golf Course was designed by LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman in 2006. It was the first Latin American Golf Course to host a PGA Event and now the same can be said about the LIV Golf Series. The course provides scenic views of the Caribbean Sea on several oceanfront holes. On other holes, you will see jungle-lined fairways and lagoons running throughout. The course has Paspalum grass throughout.
LIV Golf Mayakoba Course Breakdown
Below is the official round one scorecard provided by LIV Golf. The course will play as a 7062-yard par-71.
The course at LIV Mayakoba is much shorter than many of the LIV Golf venues we saw last season but still presents its fair share of challenges for the golfers in the field. Accuracy off the tee will be important this week as wide misses can end up in the jungle and other hazards, resulting in big numbers on the scorecard. As of result of the importance of positioning off the tee, we will see a lot of forced layups as tee shots to ensure keeping the ball in play.
This mitigates the advantage that long hitters off the tee have this week and puts an added emphasis on approach play. While approach play is always the most important factor in winning a golf tournament, it will have increased significance this week with many guys choosing to play conservatively off the tee.
We’ve seen this come to fruition on the PGA Tour with the likes of Brendon Todd, Matt Kuchar, and LIV’s own Graeme Mcdowell and Pat Perez winning at this venue. It is not a course that players are going to come out and overpower, guys will need to play smart and plot their way around off the tee while dialing in the irons.
We’ve seen winners on the PGA Tour at this course get into the 20-under par range when winning this event. While we don’t know exactly how much more difficult or easy the course will play this week in terms of set up and timing of the year (February as opposed to the fall) we can predict that it should not be astronomically different than what we have seen previously on the PGA Tour. LIV has just 54 rounds as opposed to 72 so I would predict the winning score to be somewhere around -16 or -17.
Some key statistics I will be looking at this week are strokes gained approach, opportunities gained, and good drives gained
LIV Golf Betting Odds – Mayakoba
Below are the odds to win as presented by Fan Duel. Odds on different sportsbooks are subject to change.
|ODDS to Win:|
|Harold Varner III||35/1|
|Charles Howell III||50/1|
LIV Golf Betting Strategy & Selections – Mayakoba
I am planning on starting my card in mid-tier this week. I will pick two players between 20-45/1 and then two longer shots 50/1 and above.
Matthew Wolff +2000
The Wolff Pack is back to start 2023! I think we’re seeing good value on Wolff here, to be honest. This is a guy who had three top-ten finishes (two in the top five) in six LIV starts last year. He’s one of the more talented guys in the field when he puts it all together, it has just been a matter of being in the right head space for Wolff.
Since making the transition to LIV, the Florida native has done just that. He’s happier and plays freer out on the golf course. He previously detailed the mental struggles he faced on the PGA Tour and noted in the move to LIV that he was looking forward to having more free time and being part of a community. He got engaged in the offseason and seems to be in a great mental place to begin 2023.
In Wolff’s first start of the new year in Jeddah, he finished T10 at the Saudi International. I expect the good results to continue this week at El Camaleon, a place where he has had success in the past. In the 2020 World Wide Technology Classic at Mayakoba the former Oklahoma State Cowboy finished T5 and carded a three-over 74 in round three. Without the bad third round, he would have had a serious shot to win that event.
I believe that Wolff will win a LIV event this season and I really don’t see a reason why it can’t be this week at LIV Mayakoba.
Carlos Ortiz +3000
Unfortunately, Abraham Ancer was too high up the odds list to consider this week, so we are pivoting to his Mexican counterpart, Carlos Ortiz. There is no doubt that Ortiz will want to show out in his home country this week at LIV Mayakoba. Due to LIV not being able to acquire OWGR points yet and Ortiz’s spot in the world rankings, there is a reasonable case to be made that this is one of the most important events on the schedule this season for Ortiz.
On top of the motivation factor, the 31-year-old has a history of stepping up in Mayakoba. In his last three appearances at El Camaleon on the PGA Tour, Ortiz finished 2nd, 8th, and 2nd. Ortiz had two top-five finishes at LIV events last year including a runner-up at LIV Portland.
Jason Kokrak +5000
50-1 seems like a more than fair number for Jason Kokrak. We aren’t that far removed from the 13-month period between 2020 and 2021 when Kokrak won three times on the PGA Tour. Yes, he’s 37 now and only had one top-ten finish in six LIV starts last season but the veteran has shown signs of promise to begin 2023.
Kokrak started his year finishing T18 at the Saudi International and followed it up with a T13 finish at the Asian Tour event in Oman. He has eight competitive rounds under his belt already and heads to El Camaleon, a course on which he had some success during his time on the PGA Tour.
Kokrak has made the cut all four times he has played at this course, three of which were finishes inside the top 17.
Brendan Steele +6000
It sounds crazy to say but there’s a case to be made that Brendan Steele is one of the hottest iron players in the field this week at an event that puts an extreme emphasis on approach play. Over Steele’s last five events on the PGA Tour, he gained on average 3.6 strokes on approach against the field. He has also gained strokes off the tee in eight straight starts now dating back to August of 2022.
We know Steele has an abysmal short game but if the iron play is hot, he won’t need to scramble around much and needs just an average week on the Paspalum greens to be in the mix. About a month ago at Torrey Pines, Steele was in the final group heading into the weekend.
He did somewhat self-implode and finish in a share of 20th but the fact that he put together two top-notch rounds at a much more difficult course while hitting his irons well is an encouraging sign. We’ve seen some veteran winners so far in the LIV Golf Series and I’m not ready to rule out Steele entirely.
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