The PGA Tour is south of the border this week for the OHL Classic at El Camaleon GC in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
In six tournaments this season (including the WGC-HSBC Champions, which overlapped the Sanderson Farms Championship last week), there have been a remarkable six first-time Tour winners. The OHL Classic has been kind to first-time winners in the past, so it wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see the streak continue.
Charley Hoffman returns as the defending champ in a field that also includes the likes of Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley, Angel Cabrera and Graeme McDowell.
Here are the five players you'll want to keep an eye on in Mexico.
5. Patton Kizzire
Best finish in 2015-16 season: T2 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: The only rookie on the PGA Tour not to win this season -- just kidding, it just feels that way with how well the new guys have played -- Kizzire is off to a red-hot start in his first season. In two events, he's finished T2 in Vegas and T4 in Mississippi. All of that after having won the cumulative money title for the 2015 Web.com Tour season. Kizzire seems to be picking up where he left off. The momentum is fantastic and if you're new to the PGA Tour, logging those strong finishes at the start of a season will only build confidence as it wears on and the tournaments get bigger and bigger.
4. Spencer Levin
Best finish in 2015-16 season: T17 at CIMB Classic
Reason to watch: Levin is trending in the right direction. Each of his three starts on the PGA Tour this season has gotten better and better, culminating with the T17 in Malaysia. I keep waiting for Levin's bust-out season on the PGA Tour. Could this be it? This week he returns to his the site of his highest finish on Tour, a runner-up, playoff defeat to Johnson Wagner in 2011. He knows it's a spot where he's played well before.
3. Charles Howell III
Best finish in 2015-16 season: T10 at CIMB Classic
Reason to watch: Believe it or not, Howell hasn't won on the PGA Tour since way back in 2007. That's baffling to me seeing how often it seems he contends. Howell typically fares well in Mexico. I think that trend will continue this week. Will it mean a victory? I'm not prepared to say that, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised with a top 10.
2. Charley Hoffman
Best finish in 2015-16 season: Missed cut at Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: Arguably one of the Tour's most underrated talents, Hoffman returns to the OHL Classic this week as the tournament's defending champion. In the 2014-15 season, Hoffman finished 10th in the final FedExCup standings. While he missed the cut in Vegas a few weeks back -- his only event so far this season -- I'm not going to read too much in to it. He's a streaky player. Missed cuts happen for Hoffman, but he's also a player who has the ability to bounce right back with low scores and a big week.
1. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2015-16 season: Debut
Reason to watch: This will be Kuchar's first start of the new season after coming off a season in which he failed to record a victory for the first time since 2011. He sure was close on several occasions though, evidenced by his seven top-10 finishes. Kuchar has been so good for so long. Even though he failed to win in 2014-15, he still managed to finish inside the top-20 of the final FedExCup standings. With a Ryder Cup year around the corner, I'm expecting to see a determined Kuchar throughout the season -- a top-10 machine, who picks off the occasional win.
DARK HORSE: Scott Stallings
Reason to watch: Back from a six-month suspension, Stallings is excited to be back and playing regularly. He’s got three starts under his belt thus far, the highlight being a T16 in Vegas. Stallings has notched three PGA Tour wins overall and he’s going to add to that total this year.
Here’s how my five to watch fared last week in the WGC-HSBC Champions:
5. Rory McIlroy – T11
4. Adam Scott – 70th
3. Jordan Spieth – T7
2. Dustin Johnson – T5
1. Rickie Fowler – T17
Dark Horse: Matthew Fitzpatrick – T7
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