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BlogWGC-Mexico Championship Preview and Picks

WGC-Mexico Championship

March 1st – 4th, 2018

Club de Golf Chapultepec

Mexico City, Mexico

Par: 71 / Yardage: 7,330

Purse: $10 million

with $1,700,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Dustin Johnson

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes only 56 of the top 100 players in the world and 45 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings.  Top-50 players not playing is #6 Hideki Matsuyama (hurt), #8 Jason Day, #9 Brooks Koepka (hurt), Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson.

Last year 49 of 50 players were in the field

The field one includes 17 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2018.  Those top-25  players in the field are:  #1 Justin Thomas, #2 Patton Kizzire, #3 Dustin Johnson, #4 Jon Rahm, #5 Brendan Steele, #7 Tony Finau, #8 Chez Reavie, #9 Pat Perez, #10 Gary Woodland, #11 Patrick Cantlay, #13 Brian Harman, #14 Justin Rose, #17 Phil Mickelson, #19 Alex Noren, #20 Bubba Watson, #23 Marc Leishman and #25 Rickie Fowler.  The list of those not playing are #6 Jason Day (decided not to play), #12 Austin Cook (despite winning RSM Classic, only 114th in World Rankings), #15 Chesson Hadley (despite runner-up at Sanderson Farms, only 71st in World Rankings), #16 Luke List (despite runner-up last week at Honda, only 73rd in World Rankings), #18 Ted Potter, Jr. (despite winning at Pebble, only 78th in World Rankings), #21 Cameron Smith (despite winning last year at Zurich and this week at Australian PGA, was 52nd in World Rankings), #22 James Hahn (despite finishing runner-up at Sony Open, Hawaii, was 58th in the World Rankings) and #24 Andrew Landry (despite runner-up at the CareerBuilder, was 119th in World Rankings).

The field includes 4 past champions: Dustin Johnson (2017 & ’15), Patrick Reed (2014), Justin Rose (2012) and Phil Mickelson (2009).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the WGC-Mexico Championship field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the WGC-Mexico Championship in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the WGC-Mexico Championship.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the WGC-Mexico Championship

Player Honda Qatar Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Super 6 Perth Phoenix Open Maybank Open Farmers Insurance Dubai Desert CareerBuilder Challenge Abu Dhabi Sony Open Sentry T of C
Tommy Fleetwood
(221 pts)
4
(80)
DNP T37
(13)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP
Justin Thomas
(220.33 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP T9
(45)
DNP DNP T17
(22)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T14
(12)
T22
(9.33)
Alex Noren
(210 pts)
3
(90)
DNP T16
(34)
DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Dustin Johnson
(208 pts)
DNP DNP T16
(34)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T9
(30)
DNP Win
(44)
Phil Mickelson
(203.33 pts)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
T2
(100)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T45
(3.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Chez Reavie
(186.67 pts)
DNP DNP T73
(0)
T2
(100)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP
Jon Rahm
(185.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T26
(24)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
(166 pts)
T68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP T27
(15.33)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP
Bubba Watson
(147 pts)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
T35
(15)
DNP T40
(6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Dylan Frittelli
(146.33 pts)
11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP DNP
Kevin Chappell
(142.33 pts)
DNP DNP T20
(30)
T8
(50)
DNP T31
(12.67)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP 21
(9.67)
Adam Hadwin
(140.67 pts)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP T35
(10)
DNP T3
(60)
DNP DNP 32
(6)
Tony Finau
(139.33 pts)
DNP DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP DNP T32
(6)
DNP
Gary Woodland
(122.67 pts)
T49
(1)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(115.67 pts)
T29
(21)
DNP T26
(24)
T26
(24)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP T40
(6.67)
DNP DNP
Chris Paisley
(108.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T27
(15.33)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP
Patrick Cantlay
(106.67 pts)
DNP DNP T4
(80)
T35
(15)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T15
(11.67)
Brendan Steele
(102 pts)
DNP DNP T49
(1)
DNP DNP T3
(60)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP DNP 29
(7)
Webb Simpson
(99.33 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP
Thomas Pieters
(95.67 pts)
T13
(37)
DNP T68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T32
(12)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP
Jordan Spieth
(94 pts)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
T20
(30)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
9
(15)
Brian Harman
(87 pts)
T33
(17)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP T4
(26.67)
3
(30)
Jorge Campillo
(84 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 14
(24)
DNP DNP
Matt Kuchar
(82.67 pts)
DNP DNP T26
(24)
T62
(0)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T32
(12)
DNP DNP
Paul Casey
(81 pts)
DNP DNP T49
(1)
T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T9
(30)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the WGC-Mexico Championship

Player Honda Qatar Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Super 6 Perth Phoenix Open Maybank Open Farmers Insurance Dubai Desert CareerBuilder Challenge Abu Dhabi Sony Open Sentry T of C
Brandon Stone
(-23.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP
Adam Bland
(-10 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T73
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Charl Schwartzel
(0 pts)
DNP DNP T68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Francesco Molinari
(0 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T40
(6.67)
DNP T45
(3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Kisner
(0 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.67)
DNP T25
(8.33)
T17
(11)
Kyle Stanley
(3.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
30
(6.67)
Wade Ormsby
(4 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T26
(24)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Paul Dunne
(4 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP DNP
Abraham Ancer
(6.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(20)
DNP 76
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Yuta Ikeda
(7.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

So after a week in Florida, the tour turns around and is in Mexico this week for the WGC-Mexico Championship.  Last year was the first time that they played Club de Golf Chapultepec.  It was determined to be a success, but with marquee names like Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson not playing, have to wonder about the success of the venue.  The reality is not the golf course itself, most of the players liked it, the problem is going to Mexico.  Last year Rory McIlroy had food poisoning which is probably the reason he isn’t in this event this year.  Another disadvantage is that the players are pretty much prisoners, for security reasons they pretty much stick to the hotel and golf course.

Just a couple of negatives, first players would like if this event was after Riviera so that the Florida swing doesn’t get cut in half.  The reason for this was the contract was in place with the Honda and changes couldn’t be made.  Even though the schedule for 2019 is months away, we do know one thing.  Honda announced on Monday that they had been given a date a week later for 2019 so you can bet that next year we will see this event after the west coast swing and Mexico. So with the Players Championship moving to March, we could have four straight tournaments in Florida starting with the Honda Classic.

Another problem with this event is the field; it’s one of the weaker World Golf Championship fields.  With the injuries to Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka, along with Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson not playing that degrade the field.  To keep the field under 80, they only invite the top-50 of the world rankings which has eliminated some excellent players like SiWoo Kim (51st), Cameron Smith (52nd), Adam Scott (56th), James Hahn (58th) and Zach Johnson (60th).  Then you have guys like Honda runner-up Luke List, since he is 73rd he isn’t playing.  Then you have Kevin Na, who was runner-up at the Genesis Open not playing because he is 65th in the World Rankings.  Pebble Beach winner Ted Potter, Jr. is not playing in Mexico, because he is 78th in the World Rankings.  Ollie Schniederjans finished T-3rd in Phoenix, but since he is just 81st in the World Rankings, he isn’t playing.  Ryan Palmer lost in the playoff at the Farmers, but because he is 109th in the World Rankings, he isn’t playing.  Andrew Landry lost the CareerBuilder playoff to Jon Rahm, and because he is 119th in the World Rankings, he isn’t playing. James Hahn lost the Sony Open playoff to Patton Kizzire, but his 58th place rankings give him the week off, and Austin Cook won the RSM and Ryan Armour won the Sanderson Farms, but both will be home because they didn’t make it into the top-50.  The Answer is easy, expand the rankings to the top-60 and allow all winners on both the PGA Tour and European Tour to play and you would probably get a much better field.

Last week’s Justin Thomas win:

After winning in Korea last October, Justin Thomas took a couple of months off and returned to the Hero.  But in starts at the Bahamas, defending his two Hawaiian titles and the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Thomas struggled a bit.  He did finish T-9th in Los Angeles, but he put things together with his win at the Honda.  Now there is a dirty little secret about Thomas; he plays his best in the South-east and on Bermuda greens.  In six of his eight wins, they have come in Malaysia, North Carolina, Hawaii and now Florida on Bermuda greens.  Yes, he has won on Bent Greens in Korea and Boston, but most of his excellent play comes in warm weather and on Bermuda.  Now Thomas has played well on tough courses.  He has played well at the Memorial, Northern Trust, Tour Championship, but other than his win at the PGA Championship, on a course with Bermuda greens, he only has one other top-ten at a major, T-9th at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills which isn’t really considered a “classic” U.S. Open course.  Be interesting to see how he does this week in Mexico; he played well last year, so I assume that he will probably continue his great play.  There is an excellent stat on him, winning seven times in his previous 32 starts, but for him to be good, he needs to perfect his game for Augusta National, the U.S. Open, and British Open.  As he grows, his game will improve.

What is with Rickie Fowler?

How many people are shocked that he missed the cut at the Honda as the defending champion.  It’s not the first time he has flopped in defending a title.  He missed the cut at the Players Championship the year he was defending so you never know what Fowler will do.  Have no idea if he is immature or doesn’t take some things seriously, but when you finish T-4th in one event, and his next start miss the cut that shouldn’t happen.  After missing the cut at the Honda, Fowler said that he hasn’t hit the ball well since Kapalua and the combination of that along with wind hurts him even more when your not swinging it right.  So does that mean that we better pass on Fowler in Mexico?  Probably a good idea, Rickie will get it together, and you can bet that he will be great at the Masters.

What about Tiger?

Many wondered about Tiger after his missed the cut at Riviera.  Frankly, I think it’s the course and one that Tiger can’t beat.  But things looked different at the Honda when he finished 2th, his best finish on the PGA Tour since he finished T-10th at the 2015 Wyndham.  Tiger finished 8 back of getting into the playoff, and he was close when you consider a few facts.  First and most importantly, Tiger played the two par-5s in one over only making one birdie.  When you see that Justin Thomas played the par 5s in five under, you can see how close Tiger was.  Tiger was very sloppy making three double bogeys, and on the Bear Trap, holes 15, 16 and 17 Tiger was 8 over par, seven worst than Thomas.  So Tiger had a great week, and you know that he will work hard on his game to avoid that.  On Sunday Tiger hit 14 greens, the most he’s hit since the third round at the 2015 Wyndham Championship.  For the week Tiger was T-10th in greens hit but the stat that shows that his game is improving his that he led the proximity to hole stat.  That shows who averages the closest to the hole from the fairway, so that is an excellent sign for Tiger.

Tiger was also stable in scrambling, ranking T-11th and in putting he made 13 of 15 putts from 4 to 8 feet which ranked him T-5th and in putts inside ten feet he made 64 of 70 and ranked T-9th.  So with the Masters five weeks away, we can see that his game is shaping up.  He is planning on playing at Bay Hill and also is in the field for the Valspar, but says that he isn’t sure he will play that event.  I will go out on a limb and tell that not only do I think Tiger will win again on the PGA Tour, but he will probably win this year.

One last item

Very surprised that the USGA switched away from a Monday playoff to a two-hole playoff.  I have been to 43 straight U.S. Opens, and frankly, I thought that I would die first before the USGA would cave in on this.  Every time you talked with someone over there, it was the same answer, they thought it was the right way to determine a winner and hell would freeze over before they changed their minds.

Well, I guess that hell froze over.  For 99% of golf fans, this is a great decision.  The worst thing is waiting for a Monday finish so many are happy with this decision.  But the one strange thing is why they picked just two-holes?  With the Open being played the week of the longest day of the year, in which it doesn’t get dark until close to 10 pm you would think that they pick either a three to six holes for a playoff.  In most cases, everyone would agree the longest the better, but they just went two hole which is weird.  The only thing I can think of is that TV wants to finish late, if they could go until 9 pm they would.  So I think that the two holes are to make sure Fox Sports is happy with a late finish and not Monday playoff.

So it’s off to Mexico and the Club de Golf Chapultepec.  The course is 10 miles from downtown Mexico City and is one of the countries most popular course.  Last year the scoring average was 71.05 and was ranked 22nd.  It’s still up for debate if the players are entirely in love with the course or even going to Mexico.  I would say that going to Mexico City is a bit uncomfortable for many.  Players will stick to the hotel and golf course, making sure not to get into any trouble wondering someplace they shouldn’t be.  Now I attended the 2002 World Cup when it was played in Puerto Vallarta, and I found it great.  But Puerto Vallarta is a resort town, we were by the sea only a couple of miles from the course, and there were no problems.  Mexico City is a much different place. Still, the PGA Tour wouldn’t go anyplace that would put players, officials or media in harm’s way, so we will probably not hear of any problems.

Things you need to know about the WCG-Mexico championship

For those on the PGA Tour, this will be the second World Golf Championship of 2018; the WCG-Mexico championship will be a 72-hole, stroke-play event with a limited field of 65 players.  It will include the top-50 players in the World Golf Ranking plus the top-30 from the FedEx Cup point list from 2016, the top-10 of the 2016-17 FedEx Cup standings, the top-20 from the final 2016 Race To Dubai and the top-10 from the 2017 Race to Dubai standings.  Also the top-2 from the 2016 Japan Golf Tour, Australasian Tour, Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour order of merit not otherwise exempt.

There will be no cut in the 72-hole event, which has a $10 million purse with the winner receiving $1.7 million.

This event started in 1999 when it was played for two years at Valderamma in Spain.  From there it popped around, first to Mount Juliet in Ireland, then Capital City Club in Georgia before returning to Mount Juliet in 2003.  The next year it moved to Harding Park in San Francisco and then back to Europe and the Grove outside of London.  After that it settled to Doral, after the course lost the Ford Championship at Doral which was on the PGA Tour between 1962 – 2006.  Now the tournament has a new home in Mexico with Grup Salinas, a collection of companies based in Mexico City primarily involved in retail, television, telecommunications and other businesses.  The agreement is for seven years through 2023.

Course information:

  • Club de Golf Chapultepec
  • Mexico City, Mexico.
  • 7,330 yards     Par 35-36–71
  • A private course 10 miles from downtown Mexico City.  The club was designed by U.S. Open winner Willie Smith, who work on the course during the Mexican Revolution.  It was completed and opened in 1921.  In 1944 it held the first Mexican Open and was the host 14 times before Percy Clifford came in a completely renovated the course.
  • Club de Golf Chapultepec is a private course, and one of the significant characteristics of the course is that it’s heavily tree-lined and sits at an elevation of between 7,603 and 7,835 feet above sea level.  So this course will be the highest course ever played on the PGA Tour.  This year there is only one other course at a high elevation, and that is the Barracuda Championship in Reno-Tahoe, Nevada.  The Montreux G&CC plays between 5,476 and 5,953.  So with the high altitude at Chapultepec, the yardage of 7,330 will be considerably shorter.  With low humidity, the course will play between 10 and 12% shorter, so we are talking about the course playing about 6,660 yards.
  • One of the things that will protect the course is the trees and the fact that of the 14 par 4s and 5s, only one hole will play straight away the par 5 sixth hole.  The rest will bend around, and with these guys about to drive it way over 300 yards, the course may force many to play off the tee with irons so that they don’t run it through the fairways and into the trees.  So Chapultepec will be a thinking man’s course that could favor a short hitter.
  • The fairways are Kikuyu, and the greens are a mix of Poa annua and bent. They are a bit under the average size of greens and just like at Riviera, the venue of the Genesis played two weeks ago it will take a bit of patience to putt on the greens.  Remember the golden rule with Poa annua greens; if it’s sunny and hot, the grasses will grow inconsistent and become very bumpy.  One of the reasons the greens two weeks ago at Riviera were easier to putt, there was lot’s of rain and no sun, so the poa never really green, making things easier.  The greens have lot’s of slope and will be firm, so it will take precision shots to not only hold the greens but get it close.  Off the tee there are 12 fairway bunkers but again in fast and dry conditions, look for players to find themselves in the trees which will create problems.  There are a total of 62 bunkers on the course and water will come into play on only three holes, six, seven and seventeen.
  • Before last years tournament, the previous big event held on the course was the 2014 Mexico Open, which is now the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica.  It was won by Oscar Alvarez, with a score of 17 under par, 271.  At the time it played to a par 72 as the 8th hole has been reduced from a par 5 to 4.  For that event, the course played to a 72.546 average.
  • The big question answered last year was that the high elevation helps players overpower the course, but with the doglegs and the maturity of the trees, the can’t overpower every hole.  One bit of the puzzle, when the course held the Mexican Open, Ben Crenshaw won it in 1981 and Jay Haas in 1991.  Both of these players hit it on the short side, so that could be a bit of a puzzle on what to expect this week.  But with Dustin Johnson winning it last year, still, think the course favors a long hitter.

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing on the Club de Golf Chapultepec:

This is based on the most important stats for Club de Golf Chapultepec, based on data from last years WGC-Mexico Championship, and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2018. What we do is take there rank for each stat and then add up the four catagories.
First thing to understand, last year was the first time that the Club de Golf Chapultepec was used. The course is 10 miles from downtown Mexico City and is one of the countries most popular course. The scoring average of the field last year was 71.05 so the course played around it’s par of 71 which made it the 22nd hardest course on the PGA Tour. The big question is if the course was a winner of the players, most seemed to enjoy it but Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson decided not to play it. We can understand why McIlroy didn’t play, he got food poisoning so it’s understandable on him not returning. The biggest thing about the course is it’s elevation, it’s just over 7,600 feet above sea level making it the highest course ever played on the PGA Tour. Last year the course was lush and the ball had little roll to it, one of the reasons that ten other courses on the PGA Tour had longer driving distance average than the 297.4 recorded.
Many thought that the course would be a bombers delight and when you see that Dustin Johnson won, that is the first thought. Yes Johnson, Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy finished in the top-ten and they are long hitters. But some short hitters like Ross Fisher, Thomas Pieters, Brandt Snedeker and Tyrrell Hatton finished in the top-ten, so yes hitting it long has an advantage but is not important. One thing that is important is the fact that most players hit a lot of fairways and greens which makes you tend to think the course is not that hard. But one stat that showed why scores were low, in rough proximity the course was the 12th hardest meaning that they were able to hit it off the fairway but still hit the greens. The key to this stat was the fact that from 50 to 75 yards in the course ranked the easiest, from 75 to 100 yards and 100 to 125 yards it both ranked 5th. So accuracy is not that important.

In looking at the stats for Club de Golf Chapultepec last year the first stat that strikes me is strokes gained Tee-to-Green as that stat was led by winner Dustin Johnson and five of those in the top-ten in this stat were in the top-ten of the tournament. So if you hit it long off the tee, straight and hit lot’s of greens like Dustin did, you will accomplish a lot so that is why this is our first stat. Now there is no stat in comparing how a player will do well on two different courses, but Club de Golf Chapultepec has a lot of the same characteristics of Riviera Country Club. Both courses have kikuyu fairways and Poa Annua greens On top of that both courses have lot’s of stately eucalyptus trees so in looking for a winner think of players that also does well at Riviera. We talk about how important it is putting on Poa Annua greens but frankly Dustin Johnson was Jeckel and Hyde on the greens. On putts from ten feet and in, only one person missed more putts than Johnson. It’s hard to believe that Dustin won making only 61 putts out of 77, most of those misses coming from four and five feet, probably due to bumpy conditions. But on the other end of the spectrum, Johnson made four putts our of 7 in the 15 to 20 foot range and two out of 13 over 25 feet. One thing that Johnson did well was having 36 one-putts, which ranked T-5th. So even though Johnson was 21st in Strokes Gained Putting, we are choosing this as our 2nd most important stat.
Now are 3rd important stat is playing the par 5s the best. There are just three par 5s, one at 575, followed by one at 622 and then 625 yards and guess what Dustin Johnson played them the best at 10 under, making ten birdies and two pars. Overall the course played to a 4.71 average on par 5 average, ranking T-20th for the year.
For our last stat we have to go with ParBreakers, not because a lot of eagles and birdies were made on the course but the fact that Dustin Johnson was 2nd for 2017 in that stat and that six of the players in the top-ten in ParBreakers last year were also in the top-ten at the WGC-Mexico.

In looking at the long range forecast, weather will not play a factor as there will not be any rain, each day will be in the high 70s and each day will be under 8 mph in wind.

SO HERE ARE OUR FOUR CHOICES FOR THE MOST CRITICAL STATS FROM PLAYERS TO DO WELL AT CLUB DE GOLF CHAPULTEPEC:

*Strokes gained tee-to-Greens: Important because it shows how important it is in playing Club de Golf Chapultepec. The stat is a combination of driving distance, driving accuracy and greens hit.

*Strokes gained Putting: The greens average 6,200 square feet, making them average on the PGA Tour. So it’s important to see who putts the best and picks up shots on the green. With bumpy Poa Annua greens it could spell the kiss of death if you don’t putt them well.

*Par 5 scoring average: All of the par 5s have length and even at high elevation two of the three are close to impossible to get home in two. So the ability of making birdies and eagles on them are important this week.

*Par Breakers: The course not that demanding like last week’s venue PGA National. So with Club de Golf Chapultepec ranked 28th in this stat in 2017 it’s important for players to make lot’s of eagles and birdies.

38 of the 65 players from this year’s field with stats from this year:

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

Here is the link to the other 55 players with stats from 2018

DraftKings tips

This week’s field is just 65, and the only history this course has is last year’s event.  Check out the box score for those that played well

So we have no historical background, but before we start, it’s important to point something out for those playing DraftKings.  The game has been around for two years, and my golden rule was only to pick one team.  I felt strongly that if you choose other teams, you will be playing against yourself.  But this Philosophy is being replaced with having several different teams.  It’s becoming evident that those that have multiple teams are the ones that rake up.  I know a dozen different people that have between 20 and 50 different lineups each week and what that does is increase your odds of having that big $2,000 to $10,000 pick.  Overall they lose money most weeks, but overall they come out ahead because they get some big paydays.  It’s amazing how many people are entered in the maximum of 150 lineups in the $33 pool.  Yes, that’s a total of close to $5,000, but it seems that you have to spend some money to win some.

Another thing to focus on is scoring average and eagle/birdie percentage for the tournament and the year.  Past performance in an event is not as key as getting players that will make more eagles and birdies than the next.  Lastly, I can’t stress this more; you have to pick guys that will make the cut.  Just remember this, if a player makes six birdies a day for two days, it’s just as good to have a player that makes three birdies a day for four day, you do make points with the extra pars for playing the weekend.

One last thing that I have been successful with his the weekend contest.  The only thing that matters over the weekend is a player that makes a lot of birdies and eagles; the great thing is that all six of your players will produce points since there is no cut.  For this game, I go back to my one team philosophy and have been very successful.

So let’s look at this week’s field, which is a short field.  Remember this; everyone makes the cut.

*Here are the guys that are very costly:

  • Dustin Johnson – $11,900
  • Justin Thomas – $11,500
  • Jon Rahm – $10,600
  • Jordan Spieth – $10,500
  • Tommy Fleetwood – $10,000
  • Rickie Fowler- $9,800
  • Justin Rose – $9,700
  • Phil Mickelson – $9,300
  • Sergio Garcia – $9,100
  • Bubba Watson – $8,900
  • Alex Noren – $8,800

With a short field and over a dozen guys that will probably struggle this week, the chances of you getting two top-guys are slim.  I would love to pick both Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson.  With $23,400 of your $50,000 used, that means you only have enough to average $6,650 a player.  So with the pickings slim in the under $7,000 category, picking either Johnson and Thomas will be tough in getting five other great players.

Do I think Dustin will do good and possibly win? Yes.  But I thought the same thing with Johnson at Abu Dhabi, and he finished T-9th.  I was ok with him finishing T-2nd at Pebble, but he didn’t help me much with his T-16th finish.  Hey, that is better than Rickie Fowler who missed the cut last week at the Honda, sorry he will not be on any of my teams.  As for a pick between Johnson and Thomas, I will stick with Dustin even though I think that Thomas will have a top-ten.  Another that will have a top-ten is Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood, they are still expensive to take both of them, so if I have to pick one, it’s Rahm.  I am not big on Justin Rose or Sergio Garcia this week, but I like Phil Mickelson at $9,300 and Bubba Watson at $8,900.  Matter of fact that combo will be one of my teams.  Last but not least is Alex Noren, I like him but at $8,800 he is a bit of a gamble, and you have to decide on him.  Will he finish in the top-ten? Maybe.  But I don’t have enough faith to put him on one of my teams.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,700 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Lot’s of tough choices, first Patrick Cantlay at $8,700 is a tough choice, yes he played well at Riviera which should bode well this week, but it’s still a lot of money.  I say it’s a toss-up, but I will take him for one of my teams.  The same with Tyrrell Hatton, at $8,600 it’s a lot, but he played well last year in this event and played well at Riviera, so he is a good choice.  One disadvantage of both Cantlay and Hatton, they are a more consistent type of players and don’t offer much offensive, so that could present a problem in picking them.  Now Tony Finau and Paul Casey don’t have that problem, they both make a lot of birdies, but with Finau at $8,500 and Casey at $8,400 they present a choice.  Frankly, I will take Casey but not a big fan of Finau, even though he finished T-2nd at Riviera.  As for Thomas Pieters at $8,300 he did ok last year but hasn’t shown me much the last couple of weeks.  Another pass is for Dylan Frittelli at $8,200.  He has done well of late but is playing his first WGC event, so I don’t have much faith in him.  Xander Schauffele is a good choice at $7,800, along with Rafael Cabrera Bello at $7,700 and Matt Kuchar at $7,600

Are there any “Bargains” out there?

It’s really important to find two or three good players under $7,500.  My first choice is Kevin Kisner, at $7,500 he produces a lot of offensive ranked 14th in ParBreakers for the year.  Also at $7,500 is Brendan Steele who is 8th in par breakers.  Patrick Reed will look good at $7,500 in a lot of people’s mind, but he is playing terrible right now and would be a waste.  I also think that Pat Perez at $7,400 is an excellent choice, again a lot of offensive and Patton Kizzire at $7,400 is good.  One last “bargain” at $7,200 is Chris Paisley, he has played great over the last month in Europe and made a lot of birdies, yes it’s his first World Golf Championship, but the price is too good to pass him up.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the WGC-Mexico Championship

Key stat for the winner:

Lot’s of patient in learning the course and second figuring out the best way to play it under a person’s game.  Since the greens have poa in them, look for putting to be tough, especially if the sun is out all day and the greens started growing inconsistently which will make them bumpy.  But it will take some time for local knowledge to set in and the players learn the course

Here are some more key stats to look for this week:

  • Solid shotmakers, this course has some of the same traits as Riviera, it was built around the same period and looks a lot like it.  Since most of the players in the field don’t play in the Barracuda Championship, the altitude adjustment will be tricky.  At close to 8,000 feet the ball will not only carry further, but the ball won’t spin as much making it not only harder to curve, but harder to hold the greens.  The course will be dry from a lack of rain, but Kikuyu fairways will be soft and not have much run in them.
  • In looking at the long-range weather for the week all four days will be perfect, in the high 70s with no rain and very low humidity.
  • As with Riviera, any Poa annua will make the greens very hard to judge and putt.  So look for the good putters to do well.
  • All three Par 5s aren’t a pushover, it will be interesting to see if they are reachable. The 6th and 11th are over 620 yards, while the 15th is 575 but the fairways have a lot of twists that will make them hard to position the ball.
  • The par 3s will also play hard, look for the winner to be right around par for the four holes.  Of the 76 players in the field last year, only four of them were under par on the par 3s while winner Dustin Johnson was one over.
  • In looking at the par 4s, four of them play under 400 yards, but I don’t see any of them being driven since they are all protected with lots of big trees.  Last year Dustin Johnson played the par 4s in 5 under, while Justin Thomas led the field playing them in ten under.
  • Last but not least results of this event before 2017 is meaningless.  Not only is the course different but the region and conditions are different meaning that past history means nothing.  So you have to place more on a players history in the last 8 weeks.

Who to watch for at the WGC-Mexico Championship

Best Bets:

Dustin Johnson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
Win T14 Win T4 T12 T35 2 T56 T35

Yes it sounds old and easy to pick Dustin, but he had good success on the course last year and has all of the stats to do great this week and defend.

Jon Rahm

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T3

Has to feel like he is at home in Mexico, has all of the stats, has played well and you can see him in contention this week.

Phil Mickelson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T7 5 T31 T16 T3 T43 T55 T14 Win T20 T23

Yes this is no typo, I really think he will contend and play well this week. Course is a lot like Riviera were he plays well on and he has gotten better each time he plays.

Best of the rest:

Bubba Watson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T38 2 3 T2 T18 2 72

Yes not another typo, he showed a lot with his win at the Genesis and this is a course he can win again on, it’s just like Riviera.

Justin Thomas

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T5 T35

Played great last week and his game looks to be very sharp. Played well in Mexico last year, think he will continue the good play.

Tommy Fleetwood

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
2 T71

Showed us last week that he can take his game to this side of the Atlantic and do very well.

Alex Noren

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T55 T56 T20 69

Another European that has been very impressive in 2018 and seems to contend every time he plays.

Tyrrell Hatton

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
10

Hard to believe that there are that many good Europeans in the field that can win.

Solid contenders

Patrick Cantlay

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

A solid player that makes lot’s of birdies and show that he could play well at Riviera, if he played well two weeks ago he will play well this week.

Jordan Spieth

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T12 T17 T17 T34

No I haven’t forgotten about him, I just think he has struggled too much on Poa Annua greens this year.

Matt Kuchar

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T20 T28 T23 T13 T35 T8 5 T3

Guy proves that he can play well on any course, this is one he can win on.

Paul Casey

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T16 7 T38 T51 T18 T6 T31 T51 T9 T56

Guy always finds a way into the top-ten, he could play good enough to contend.

Rickie Fowler

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T16 T8 T12 T44 T35 T45 8

No it’s not that we have forgotten about him, but I soured a bit over his comments last week that he hasn’t hit the ball well since Kapalua. Don’t think it will get better this week.

Long shots that could come through:

Rafael Cabrera-Bello

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T38 T11 T63 65

Guy has been very solid and don’t be surprise to see him do well.

Pat Perez

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T38 T35

Guys is playing well, makes lot’s of birdies and should do well this week.

Chris Paisley

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

One last European that you probably haven’t heard much of, but he has been great the last six weeks and could do well this week.

Comments

  1. What about Xander Schauffele? Long hitter that could contend on this course! Also Justin Rose – nice course history.

  2. I know that Justin has played well since the summer, matter of fact in 12 starts since missing the cut at the PGA Championship, he has only been out of the top-ten once and has won three times. His last start he finished T-8th at the Farmers. I just don’t think the course in Mexico suits his game and don’t expect him to do well.
    Now Schauffele I considered him, especially since he finished T-9th at the Genesis, maybe I should of mentioned him. He is the type of guy that does go under radar screens, East Lake has a lot of characteristics of Club de Golf Chapultepec so maybe you are right on him.

  3. Joseph S says:

    Good article, but not sure why you don’t like Finau here?.. Played very well on the west coast swing, finishing 2nd at Riviera and 6th at Torrey… both courses with Poa Annua, and Riviera is the closest thing we know to Club de Chapultapec, also having kikuyu fairways and rough. I’m not saying he’s going to win, but I like him for a real chance at a top-10 finish, maybe even a top-5. I like him much for the same reasons we both like Phil this week, and Finau is 6th on tour in strokes gained tee-to-green. I also think Fritelli has a shot at top-20 because he’s been playing well as of late and is familiar with kikuyu… Love to read your previews each week, keep up the good work!

  4. Simon B says:

    Thank you Sal for the excellent article really helps me make my own predictions and more than pays back the fee to view

  5. We almost nailed it Sal….we had a great team at DK for quite a while that consisted of Tommy Fleetwood, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Pat Perez and Sergio Garcia. Was as high as 19th for a bit, but then faded as you can imagine when Oosty choked as well as Perez. Poor Fleetwood just didn’t have it. Our other team with Mickelson ended up higher in the end, but we cashed both entries for profits! Thanks for your great insight this week!

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