OHL Classic 2016: English can claim Mexican double

Harris English can get his second win at El Camaleon
Harris English can get his second win at El Camaleon

Dave Tindall brings us his analysis and tips for the fifth event of the 2016/17 PGA Tour season - the OHL Classic at El Camaleon in Mexico...

"English currently sits 17th in Strokes Gained: Putting (6th in that category last year) and was 7th for Greens In Regulation last week so he seems to hold a very strong hand as he prepares to tee it up again at El Camaleon."

Main Bet: Back Harris English @ 36.035/1

Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 5 places

Main Bet: Back Harris English e/w @ 35/1

Graeme McDowell bucked the trend last year but the OHL Classic in Mexico has been dominated by Americans. The first eight editions went to U.S. players and, this week, I like two of those former winners to shine again at El Camaleon.

First up is Harris English, who landed the trophy in 2013 when shooting 21-under. His four-shot triumph was the biggest winning margin in the tournament's history and included a second-round 62.

Was it just a case of the American having a golden week, fuelled by one freakish round? A T37 in 2014 and missed cut last year suggests that's a possibility.

But I like the fact that English has played well in events where form correlates well with this one.

Steve Rawlings notes that the Sony Open and St. Jude Classic are the strongest while the Puerto Rico Open and CIMB Classic are played on the same Paspalum grass that is in use this week.

In the last four years, English has a third, fourth and T9 at the Sony and won the St. Jude Classic at Southwind in 2013. He was also runner-up at Colonial this year (also T5 in 2012) and T7 at the 2013 CIMB Classic.

That's an awful lot of excellent form on courses that have certain similar traits to this one and where the history books tell us there are worthwhile clues to be found.

English, who hasn't missed a cut since May's Players Championship, heads to Mexico on the back of a top four finish at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open so boasts strong current form too.

He shot four 67s in Vegas and said: "I was very happy with my ball striking." He putted well too and that's key.

Recent winners here have all been hot with the flatstick and hit lots of greens.

English currently sits 17th in Strokes Gained: Putting (6th in that category last year) and was 7th for Greens In Regulation last week so he seems to hold a very strong hand as he prepares to tee it up again at El Camaleon.

The 35/1 looks fair.

Next Best: Back Johnson Wagner e/w @ 50/1

The second past winner I like this week is Johnson Wagner at 50/1.

Wagner, like English, won on his debut in the event. That came in 2011 when he closed 65-67 on the weekend to shoot 17-under before he edged out Spencer Levin in a play-off.

The American has returned to El Camaleon every year since and in the last two visits has posted T16 in 2014 and T8 in 2015. Clearly it's a course he's very comfortable on.

Speaking after his win five years ago, Wagner said: "It's very challenging. You have to drive the ball very straight. You have to hit quality iron shots into the greens. Beautiful conditioned golf course, one of the best we'll play all year. It is a challenging golf course if you don't hit it well."

He also talked about the greens.

"The tournament we play in Puerto Rico has Paspalum greens, and there are a few tournaments in Florida with Paspalum greens as good as these. They putt beautifully.

"I'd put these greens up against any Bermuda greens, which is my favourite, I'd put it up against any greens we play on all year. They were perfect. I didn't notice any difficulty with them at all."

This year Wagner sits 22nd in Strokes Gained Putting so is rolling the ball nicely ahead of his return to the scene of the second of his three PGA Tour wins.

The third was the 2012 Sony Open which we've already noted as being a good pointer to success here.

So far, so good but what really elevates Johnson this week is recent form.

Okay, he missed the cut in Vegas last week (71-70) but before that he'd placed third in the Safeway Open. And go back to August and he had back-to-back top fives in the John Deere Classic and Wyndham Championship.

That means he's landed the each-way money in three of his last six starts.
The 50/1 looks a nice price.

Final Bet: Back Chris Kirk e/w @ 33/1

The fact that both English and Wagner won at El Camaleon on debut helps add a layer of confidence for a final punt on first-time visitor Chris Kirk.

The 31-year-old has four PGA Tour wins to his name and this always seems a good time to catch him.

Kirk won the 2013 McGladrey Classic at the start of November and has several other top fives in Fall Series events. That includes 2016.

Since ending the previous campaign with T10 at the BMW Championship, Kirk has finished T8 at the Safeway Open and T2 at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

It looked as if he might get the job in last week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open when opening 66-65 but, like many before him, he blew some serious cash on the weekend in Vegas and ended up T61 after shooting 75-74.

Even though he hasn't played this week's course, there's every reason to think he'll be back on the leaderboard this week given his play on other tracks which act as good pointers.

Kirk was runner-up at the 2014 Sony Open after making the top five there 12 months earlier, he won at Colonial in 2015 (also top five in 2012) and was T4 at the 2013 CIMB (his last appearance there).

It's also worth noting his current position of 10th in Strokes Gained Putting.

In Vegas he said: "Last year my putting was very, very inconsistent and not very good most of the year, statistically probably my worst putting that year I've had since I've been on tour. But I've worked on a few things, and it's just kind of felt good for most of this Fall, so that's obviously a game changer.

"My swing has been pretty decent all year, but just making some putts, you know how that goes. Momentum gets on your side and it just kind of flows a lot better out there."

Many punters will be thinking of backing him at next week's RSM Classic at Sea Island - his home event which he won in 2013 - but it could be a mistake to wait as Kirk looks ready to win right now.

Have some 33/1.

At the very front of the market, Russell Knox was runner-up here last year and is coming off back-to-back top 10s so has obvious appeal at 16/1.

Youngsters Emiliano Grillo (debut) and Jon Rahm (T10 last year) both have the class and form to win very soon and John Huh and English won this at age 21 and 25 respectively.

Both are worth choices at 20/1 but I'm happy to take bigger odds on players who are proven winners already.

Dave's 2016 P/L (based on £5 e/w per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £1210
Returned: £1683.75
P/L: +£473.75

(After the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open)

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