Justin Thomas was left as the clear pre-tournament favorite for the Mayakoba Golf Classic when world No. 1 Dustin Johnson decided to withdraw late last week.
At No. 3, Thomas is the only top-10 player in the field. He’s also the +650 favorite by BetMGM, ahead of four-time major champion Brooks Koepka (+1200).
With No. 13 Daniel Berger, No. 19 Tony Finau and No. 22 Abraham Ancer of Mexico the only other top-25 players in the field, the Mayakoba Golf Classic is prime for a player with longer odds to cash in.
Thomas is the heavy favorite for good reason and is a solid bet as well. He has already won twice this year and squandered a third title when he lost a three-shot lead with three holes to play at the Workday Charity Open.
Despite that, he’s known as a strong closer and enters in strong form with five consecutive top-15 finishes, including a solo fourth at the Masters in his most recent start.
Koepka has consecutive top-10 finishes but hasn’t won since 2019 as he continues to work his way back from his latest injury layoff.
Harris English is definitely one to watch.
The second of his two PGA Tour victories came at Mayakoba in 2013, and he finished fifth in the event last year. English has risen to a career-best 33rd in the world on the strength of five top-10s and seven more top-20s in his past 17 starts.
English needs to prove that he can close on Sunday, but his form throughout 2020 combined with his past success at Mayakoba has him as the third betting favorite at +1600 by BetMGM.
That’s slightly ahead of Ancer (+1800), who is trying to become just the fourth Mexico native to win on the PGA Tour. The third was Carlos Ortiz (+5000), who joined the list with his victory at the Houston Open last month.
Ancer has been knocking on the door for the past few years, posting a trio of runner-up results and holding a share of the 54-hole lead at the Masters before closing with a 76 on Sunday.
Berger (+2000) is another intriguing name.
One of the most consistent players throughout 2020, Berger had seven top-10s over nine-event stretch, including a win at the Charles Schwab Challenge in the Tour’s re-start in June. However, that did not qualify him for the rescheduled Masters, and his latest start was a tie for 17th at the Zozo Championship.
Also being offered at +2000 is 26th-ranked Viktor Hovland. The rising young star from Norway would typically have shorter odds, but he has missed the Mayakoba cut each of the past two years.
A winner in Puerto Rico earlier this year, Hovland has four top-15 finishes in his past five starts.
Another excellent young player to watch this week is Chile’s Joaquin Niemann (+3500). He had four consecutive top-20s before being knocked out of the Masters following a positive COVID-19 test. Niemann, who finished tied for 44th at the RSM Classic two weeks ago in his return, missed the Mayakoba cut last year.
While the Mayakoba Golf Classic is missing many of the game’s marquee names, the field does not lack for accomplished players.
Brendon Todd (+4500) offers long odds for a defending champion who reached the Tour Championship. That said, Todd doesn’t have a top-20 finish since August.
Adam Long (+5500) was one of three players to finish a shot behind Todd last year. He also finished runner-up at the 3M Open in July and fifth at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in September after holding the 54-hole lead.
Another player enjoying a strong start to the 2020-21 PGA Tour season is Peter Malnati. He enters this week as a +10000 longshot despite a pair of top-10s this fall along with a tie for 21st in Bermuda after opening with a 63.
Also being offered at +10000 are Vaughn Taylor, who tied for second last year, and Pat Perez, the leading career money winner at Mayakoba with $1,898,929.
Mayakoba Golf Classic Best Bet
Will Zalatoris, a Korn Ferry Tour grad, has earned special PGA Tour status through the end of the year on the strength of an excellent fall swing.
After a streak of 11 consecutive top-20s on the KFT, Zalatoris served notice with his tie for sixth at the U.S. Open that included an aces and another tee shot the same day that hit the flagstick. He was even among the betting favorites in his next start at Corales, where he went on to tie for eighth.
Zalatoris missed his next cut but rebounded with a tie for fifth at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and a tie for 16th in Bermuda.
Zalatoris offers short outright winner odds at +3300 for a player making his sixth Tour start. But the 24-year-old does have 13 top-10s in 21 starts in 2020 across the KFT and PGA Tours, with 11 of them coming in his past 16 events.
Mayakoba Golf Classic Best Bet: Will Zalatoris +320 by BetMGM to finish in the top 10.