Hovland sets out to achieve a goal that the previous 12 title holders have failed twice – to win three consecutive editions of the same tournament. It hasn’t been done since Steve Straker won the John Deere Classic in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Hovland was 13 years old when Straker converted the triple.
It was really unusual when Hovland won the title at El Camaleon the first time. A sneak peek at the champions in the course suggests that ball strikers are only of a certain age. They found what Ponce de Leon never did – the Fountain of Youth.
When Hovland was crowned the winner in 2020, he lowered the average age of the winners to 34. Granted, the tournament evolved from an add-on event in late winter (2007-2012) to a stand-alone competition in the fall (since 2013) but given how years of The peak of talent is getting younger, this is still a year for the old guard. When Hovland successfully defended, the focus on the average age of the winners contributed more to the historical narrative than the general trend of players expected to lift the Chameleon Trophy from the limestone on Sunday. However, the Norwegian, who only turned 25 in September, achieves the archetype that has been repeatedly rewarded in the tournament.
El Camaleon is equal to 71. Paspalum property blankets. Partly because Mayakoba is a resort but also because the winds off the Gulf of Mexico can be unforgiving, the green plants have managed to shoot no more than 11 feet on the Stimpmeter. So, when the breezes are light and because the steering tips are only 7,034 yards away (reflecting a 17-yard increase from last year, all on the 7th hole of the 5-bar), the championship becomes green-light-specific. The initial raw remains were cut to just over two inches.
Defending his title, Hovland established the championship record by completing 72 holes in 23-under 261. The pitch scoring average of 69,097 was also a new mark. With conditions expected largely favourable this week, at least after the opening round during which rain and storms were promised a threat, this is a fair target for the 132 field. The wind will affect a few shots at times, but it won’t be the primary challenge.
None of the rate will be 3s. Once again, they were the easiest 50-lap group all last season. Hovland averaged 2.75 on them, but he also walked the field at a 5 average and scored 4.08 ranks. Although proficiency from the tee to the green is priority A in every shootout, a 5x tap will be necessary to stay on the leaderboard.
Note: ShotLink is not used for this tournament.
Rob Bolton’s schedule
Rob Bolton of PGATOUR.com summarizes and previews each tournament from many perspectives. Look for his next contributions as scheduled.
Monday: strength ratings
Tuesday*: They sleep, draw and fade away
Wednesday: Choose ‘Em Preview
Sunday: Payments and points, medical extensions, qualifications, ministerial reshuffle, junior ranking
* – Rob is a member of the PGATOUR.COM Expert Selection Committee for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.