OHL Classic at Mayakoba | Five players to watch
The final official PGA Tour event of the calendar year -- the OHL Classic at Mayakoba -- takes place in Mexico this week.
The tournament is the sixth event of the Tour's new 2013-14 wraparound schedule, but the last one until the first week in January when the schedule resumes with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii.
Here's a look at five players to watch at the 7,039-yard El Camaleon Golf Club at the Mayakoba resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, designed by Greg Norman.
5. Fred Funk.
Best finish in 2013: Played exclusively on Champions Tour with exception of a missed cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Reason to watch: Silly pick, you say? What, because he's 57? Age is just a number and that's especially true for Funk. He's missed the cut at the Frys.com Open and the McGladrey Classic, but on Thursday he tees it up at a place where he's got good vibes. Funk one the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in 2007 -- his last PGA Tour win, in fact. This season, Funk will be using his one-time exemption for being in the top 50 on the career money list. If he's going to make money out on the young tour, this is the place to start.
4. Harris English.
Best finish in 2013: Winner of the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Reason to watch: There's just nothing not to like about this guy's game. The 24-year-old snagged his first PGA Tour win this past summer in the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Along with that, English had three other top-10 finishes on the season, but none since the win until a tie for seventh in Malaysia at the CIMB Classic a few weeks ago. Listen to a lot of PGA Tour veterans talk and they'll tell you -- English is a star waiting to shine.
3. John Huh.
Best finish in 2013: Tie for third at the Wyndham Championship.
Reason to watch: This 23-year-old returns to Mexico this week at the defending champion. That's got to feel good. But, because of the Tour's new wraparound schedule, Huh's title came nearly two years ago in February of 2012. He was PGA Tour Rookie of the Year that season. Huh missed a lot of cuts in 2013 -- 11 in all out of 28 starts -- but still finished in the top 25 on eight occasions, highlighted by a tie for third at the Wyndham Championship. I like Huh's chances this week because it's a place where the highlight of his career took place.
2. Briny Baird.
Best finish in 2013: N/A
Reason to watch: Baird did not make a single start during the PGA Tour's 2013 season, as he continued his recovery from double-shoulder surgery in 2012. Now that he's healed, Baird looks primed to capture that elusive first win. Perhaps making up for lost time, this week's appearance in Mayakoba will mark Baird's fourth start of the 2013-14 season. In his previous three events, Baird made the cut each time, highlighted by a tie for second a week ago in Sea Island. He's hungry.
1. Tim Clark.
Best finish in 2013: Second at the Sony Open in Hawaii
Reason to watch: This South African's name always seems to be lurking on leaderboards... Which is why it's so hard to believe that he's only won one time on the PGA Tour. Granted, that one triumph was a big one -- the 2010 Players Championship. But still, he's a guy you might expect more from in the way of the win column. Clark enters this week after a tie for second last week in Sea Island. Playing one of the shorter courses on the Tour's schedule this week, you've got to like Clarke's chances (which isn't to say he's not strong on long courses -- he made out just fine at TPC Sawgrass).
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.