In 10 years, the OHL Classic at Mayakoba has secured its place as a big-time PGA Tour event. This is most obviously evident in the quality of field and the size of its purse.
The purse has doubled in 10 years, now sitting at $7 million. Or, to be exact, $7,000,010. The extra 10 bucks is a nod to its 10th anniversary this year. This is a major increase over last year’s $6.2 million.
The strength of field could be partly attributed to the growing purse, but that isn’t the whole story. The Mayan Riviera, most famous for Cancun, is a wondrous setting for golf. The ocean and the weather make it a prime destination for PGA Tour players and golf vacationers alike.
Now, about this field.
Graeme McDowell returns to defend his 2015 title, but he’s got his hands full with these guys. Major champions Webb Simpson and Ernie Els are in the field, as is 2014 FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel.
But these are my five players to watch:
Russell Knox: The Scotsman is ranked 19th in the world, and he’s been in especially great form lately. Since winning the Travelers Championship in August, he’s continued his streak of cuts made, which now stands at 13. He made it all the way to the Tour Championship in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. He’s coming off a pair of top-10 finishes at the CIMB Classic and WGC-HSBC Champions. And, he lost in a playoff to Graeme McDowell one year ago, so he knows the El Camaleón Golf Course at Mayakoba.
Scott Piercy: Ranked No. 35 in the world, Piercy had a near-miss at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational where he finished runner-up. He has five top-25 finishes in seven starts since Labor Day.
Jon Rahm: Expectations are high for the Spanish rookie who starred at Arizona State before turning pro in June. He’s only missed one cut in 13 PGA Tour events in 2015-16. His finishes include a runner-up and a third place. And he’s got a T23 finish at the 2016 U.S. Open.
Siwoo Kim: He earned his PGA Tour card via the 2015 Web.com Tour, then won the Wyndham Championship in his rookie season. Kim’s world ranking has climbed from 283rd at last year’s OHL Classic to 53rd today.
Jim Furyk: The world’s 32nd-ranked player ventures to Mexico for his first start of the 2016-17 PGA Tour season. His past season will be remembered for shooting a 58 in the final round of the Travelers Championship, and his runner-up finish at the U.S. Open.