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BlogWGC-Mexico Championship Preview and Picks

WGC-Mexico Championship

February 21st – 24th, 2019

Club de Golf Chapultepec

Mexico City, Mexico

Par: 71 / Yardage: 7,345

Purse: $10.25 million

with $1,745,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Phil Mickelson

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes only 45 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings.  Not playing is #1 Justin Rose, #11 Jason Day, #30 Adam Scott, #42 J.B. Holmes and #48 Andrew Putnam.

Last year 45 of 50 players were in the field

The field one includes just 14 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2019.  Those top-25  players in the field are:  #1 Xander Schauffele, #2 Matt Kuchar, #3 Gary Woodland, #4 Marc Leishman, #5 Charles Howell III, #6 Justin Thomas, #7 Phil Mickelson, #10 Bryson DeChambeau, #11 Rickie Fowler, #14 Brooks Koepka, #15 Patrick Cantlay, #17 Paul Casey, #21 Tony Finau and #24 Chez Reavie.  The list of those not playing are #8 Justin Rose (decided against playing), #9 J.B. Holmes (Qualified on Sunday, had vacation plans), #12 Kevin Tway (Despite winning Safeway, is 92nd in World Rankings), Cameron Champ (Won Sanderson Farms, but is 81st in World Rankings), #16 Andrew Putnam (Was in field but withdrew on Tuesday). #18 SiWoo Kim (Is 52nd in World Rankings, didn’t want to play), #19 Adam Scott (Was 30th in World Rankings, decides not to play), #20 Adam Long (Despite winning World Ranking is 134th in World Rankings), #22 Adam Hadwin (Is 62nd in World Rankings), Scott Piercy (Is 105th in World Ranking),  and #25 Jason Day (11th in World Rankings, decided not to play).

The field includes 4 past champions: Phil Mickelson (2018 & ’09), Dustin Johnson (2017 & ’15), Patrick Reed (2014) and Tiger Woods (2013, ’07, ’06, ’05, ’03 & 1999).

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 the 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 Genesis Open Super 8 Perth AT&T Pebble Beach Phoenix Open Saudi International Farmers Insurance Dubai Classic Desert Classic Abu Dhabi Sony Open Sentry T of C
Justin Thomas
(242.67 pts)
2
(100)
DNP DNP 3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
3
(30)
Dustin Johnson
(231.33 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP T45
(5)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP T4
(26.67)
Matt Kuchar
(228.33 pts)
T28
(22)
DNP T22
(28)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
T19
(10.33)
Bryson DeChambeau
(228 pts)
T15
(35)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP T10
(26.67)
7
(18.33)
Phil Mickelson
(201.67 pts)
T37
(13)
DNP Win
(132)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Ryan Fox
(200.67 pts)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T27
(15.33)
DNP DNP
Jon Rahm
(188.33 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP DNP T10
(40)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP 6
(40)
DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
Ian Poulter
(182 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP T3
(60)
DNP T6
(40)
T33
(11.33)
18
(10.67)
Marc Leishman
(171.33 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(60)
T4
(26.67)
Chez Reavie
(156.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T38
(12)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP T28
(14.67)
DNP T3
(60)
DNP
Rory McIlroy
(153.33 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
Hideki Matsuyama
(140 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP DNP T15
(35)
DNP T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP
Charles Howell III
(136 pts)
6
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(20)
DNP T34
(10.67)
DNP T8
(33.33)
T14
(12)
Xander Schauffele
(135.67 pts)
T15
(35)
DNP DNP T10
(40)
DNP T25
(16.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
Rickie Fowler
(132 pts)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Paul Casey
(129.67 pts)
T25
(25)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T16
(11.33)
Tom Lewis
(121.33 pts)
DNP T63
(0)
DNP DNP 3
(90)
DNP T48
(1.33)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP DNP
Branden Grace
(120.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T28
(22)
2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T27
(15.33)
DNP DNP
Haotong Li
(118.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(100)
DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Gary Woodland
(118.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP DNP DNP 80
(0)
2
(33.33)
Bubba Watson
(114.67 pts)
T15
(35)
DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
31
(6.33)
Joost Luiten
(113.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP
Adrian Otaegui
(112.67 pts)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP DNP T24
(26)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Russell Knox
(106.67 pts)
DNP DNP T14
(36)
T10
(40)
DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP
Shane Lowry
(103.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP
Richard Sterne
(97 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T13
(37)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP
Patrick Reed
(85.67 pts)
DNP DNP T22
(28)
DNP 56
(0)
T13
(24.67)
DNP DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
T25
(8.33)
Cameron Smith
(84.67 pts)
T49
(1)
DNP DNP T15
(35)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP DNP DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP
Matt Wallace
(79.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(72.33 pts)
T25
(25)
DNP T22
(28)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP DNP
Sergio Garcia
(68 pts)
T37
(13)
DNP DNP DNP DQ
(-5)
DNP T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Tony Finau
(61.67 pts)
T15
(35)
DNP T38
(12)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Patrick Cantlay
(58.33 pts)
T15
(35)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP DNP DNP
Tommy Fleetwood
(55 pts)
T28
(22)
DNP T45
(5)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP DNP
Tiger Woods
(55 pts)
T15
(35)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Genesis Open Super 8 Perth AT&T Pebble Beach Phoenix Open Saudi International Farmers Insurance Dubai Classic Desert Classic Abu Dhabi Sony Open Sentry T of C
Henrik Stenson
(-23.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Satoshi Kodaira
(-17.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP 72
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T32
(6)
Aaron Wise
(-15.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T27
(7.67)
Matthew Millar
(-10 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
George Coetzee
(-8.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T38
(8)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Kyle Stanley
(-8 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
(-6.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T33
(17)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Erik Van Rooyen
(-4.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T32
(12)
DNP DNP
Shubhankar Sharma
(-2.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Eddie Pepperell
(-1.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T38
(8)
DNP T49
(0.67)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

The PGA Tour has finally done the right thing and aligned themselves better in the schedule.  Last year the tour went from L.A. to Palm Beach, then flew to Mexico and back to Florida, making an awkward step.  Now there is a better flow, going from L.A. to Mexico and then on to Florida in which four straight will be played in that state.  Unfortunately Justin Rose, Jason Day and Adam Scott decided against playing, citing that it didn’t fit into there schedules.

This is the start of a great stretch of golf, in the next eight weeks will be the Masters, The Players Championship and two World Golf Championships which are creating a lot of scheduling problems for players.  The problem is the move of the Players from May to March, it added another event in an already crowded period of time.  What many are hoping that happens in the future is that the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play moves to the first week of May either before or just after the Wells Fargo.  That would be a big event wedged in the four weeks between the Masters and the PGA Championship.

How tough was last week:

Mother Nature played havoc on the Genesis Open as poor weather hit the Sunday play for the third week in a row.  The heavy rain started in Phoenix, as heavy rain played havoc as Rickie Fowler was able to hold on to win.  Then at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am, the rain did a number but the big problem was the hail storm that hit the course around noon.  It made it impossible for Phil Mickelson and Paul Casey to finish and they needed to come back on Monday to finish the final two holes.  And a big rainstorm on Thursday created a 7-hour delay and played havoc on the weekend as many players had to go 32 holes on Sunday.  But the tournament created a lot of storylines, that will not help determine the direction for many players.

Jordan Spieth

It’s been a year and a half since Spieth last won at the British Open.  Since that win, he has played in 36 events around the world without a victory.  After the Open win at Birkdale Spieth was good, in his next 18 events, he contended in ten of them as he chalked up a pair of runner-up finishes (2017 Northern Trust & Dell Technologies) and three third-place finishes (2017 Hero, 2018 Houston & Masters).  But since the Masters, in his next 18 starts he has been frustrated mostly on the weekend and has only one top-ten finish, a T-9th at the British Open.  A lot has been said about Spieth not putting as well, but his tee to green game has been terrible.  We can see the digression of Spieth’s game in the stats.  in 2017 Spieth was 2nd in both Strokes Gained Approach-the-Green and Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green.  But in 2018 he dropped to 33rd in Approach-the-Green and is 108th in that stat this year.  As for Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green he dropped to 33rd in 2018 and is 108th this year.  Now his putting has also digressed, he was 2nd in Strokes Gained-Putting in 2016 and fell to 48th in 2017, down to 123rd last year and has improved to 90th this year.  With all of these changes, his scoring average has gotten worst.  In 2017 he was 1st with a 68.846 average.  But in 2018 he was 18th at 69.904 while this year is 82nd at 71.084.  This is a drop of over two shots per round and we can see that this translate from being in contention a lot to now struggling.

Now the great Arnold Palmer once told me 30 years ago that the biggest problem that he had was that when he first came out on tour in 1956 he was young and very cocky and basically knew nothing other than making anything and everything.  But as Palmer related, the older he got the more he learned and the more he realized the pitfalls out on a golf course.  He also said that this thinking hurt his putting, in his glory years between 1958 and 1964 he thought of nothing more than making any putt, no matter how far away he was.  But the more he played, the more things would stick in his mind and with that, the cockiness left him as he was more careful and thoughtful with each putt.  This over the years went from his putter to his iron play and then the driving.  I think about that now with Spieth, when he came out he was fearless like other great young players were.  We saw what a great putter Spieth was with his wins at the Masters, U.S. Open and the British Open.  But now Spieth isn’t as fearless and has struggled.

We started to see some improvement with Spieth at the Farmers, where he opened up with a 65 on the North Course and despite shooting even-par 72s on Friday and Saturday.  In the third round Spieth made an eagle at 13 and a birdie at 14 and just like that was 11 under par and just six back of the leader Justin Rose.  But after his good play on 13 and 14, Spieth had some sloppy play, first, at 15 he hit a poor tee shot and after taking four to get to the green, he three-putted for a triple-bogey.  He bogeyed his next hole and just like that, things were ruined.  On Sunday he struggled early played the front nine in 39 which meant he played a 13 hole stretch in seven over par.  But he redeemed himself playing the back nine in three under to finish for a T-35th finish.  He returned to Dallas and worked hard on his game.

Two weeks later he went to Pebble Beach and played in a tournament he has done great in past years.  In the first round after an even-par 34 on the front, he had five birdies on the back nine and shot 66 to finish three shots back but in the running.  On Thursday night Golf Channel made it a note to show some highlights of Spieth’s round and explained how well he was staying down on his putting stroke and how well he was hitting the ball.  In the second round, Speith started on the back nine at Spyglass and was terrific, shooting a five-under 31.  But the weather changed and was windy as he had to play down near the beach and finished the nine with a bogey for a 37, but a 68 for the day and was just a shot back.  On Saturday at Pebble Beach he played great, was 2 under for his first 12 holes and was just a couple of shots back of leader Paul Casey until he hit a terrible drive on 13th and struggled to a double bogey on the hole.  He came back with a birdie at 14, but a three-putt bogey at 17 and a double bogey at 18 took him out of contention as he shot 34-40 for a 74.  Sunday was downright ugly as hit only 10 greens and took 31 putts to shot 75 and dropped down into a T-45th.

The next week at the Genesis again Spieth looked like the Jordan of old with a 64 in the first round.  His ball striking wasn’t that great but he took only 21 putts as he had seven birdies and 11 pars.  Unfortunately, Spieth had to wait around for most of the day on Friday and started his 2nd round with a par on the easy 1st hole, then made bogey at 2 before ending the day with a birdie at 4.  He came back on Saturday and was able to finish the round 1 under par and again was in contention.  He started his third round late on Saturday and an omen came with he three-putted the first hole for par, followed by a  bogey at 3 and again ended his day on the fourth hole.  On Sunday early he came out and finished the round with two birdies and pars for a 70 and despite Justin Thomas running away with things, Spieth was 9 under par and in contention.  But with the weather getting cold and windy, Spieth did a total collapse.  The highlight of the round was a two-putt birdie at one but a poor drive led to a double bogey at 2 followed by a bogey at 3.  After making par at 4, he hit another poor drive which led to a triple bogey 7 at Five.  He added another bogey at 8 and the low point of the round was when he drove into a greenside bunker on the short par 4 10th.  From the bunker, he went over the green into another bunker and then again went over the putting surface with his next shot.  He hit five bunker shots around the green and two-putted for an eight and despite making par on his last eight holes shot 81, which is his second-worst score on tour (82 in 3rd rd, 2013 Memorial).  So for his last three events, he has a first-round scoring average of 65 and an average of 72.7 for the next three rounds.

I can’t say what is up with Jordan other than the conversation I had with Arnold Palmer 30 years ago was fresh in my mind in thinking about Spieth.  He had a lot of success very early, he probably played the best in his first four years than anyone but Tiger Woods.  We all know that Jordan will win again, but have to wonder if he can continue the same run he had between 2013 and 2017 when he won 14 times around the world, including three majors.  Jordan was my pick your pro pick and in other pools, I took him and basically will be more careful in taking him until he proves that he can play more consistent on the weekend.

Rory McIlroy

We have talked about Rory’s demons over the last year since he won at the Arnold Palmer.  We kind of pin-pointed his problem with the putter, especially over ten feet.  But at the Genesis he showed some drastic improvement, making 8 of 45 putts which is a drastic improvement.  Not only did that look good but Rory hit the ball well, he was first in Greens in Regulation and his Driving Accuracy was good as he ranked T-16th.  McIlroy was 8th in Proximity to Hole and had 19 birdies, 2nd best.  After opening up with a 72, Rory shot 63-69-69 and looked like his game was getting better.  I bring this up because Rory really looks solid this year finished T-4th at the Sentry TofC, T-5th at the Farmers and T-4th at the Genesis.  Going to a course that is a bombers delight, I have to think that along with Justin Thomas, Rory is the favorite this week.  But with the Masters just 8 weeks away and we all know this is number one on McIlroy’s list to complete the Grand Slam, I really like him.  Still, McIlroy does some strange things and still doesn’t give us that killer blow at the right time.  An example of this, Rory holed a bunker shot on the 70th hole to get within 2 of J.B. Holmes with a downwind par 5 ahead of him.  But Rory didn’t take advantage of this, making par at 17 and with a wedge in his hand on the final hole made bogey to finish T-4th, 3 back of Holmes.  The point of all this is to say that McIlroy is close and I can see him winning in Mexico and playing well in the coming weeks.

Another that I think is close to a win, Tiger

We talked last week at how Tiger Woods has struggled at Riviera in the past.  Woods struggled again early, making a birdie on his final hole in the second round thinking it was to make the cut.  It wasn’t but he did make the cut and then showed some of the Tiger of old.  Teeing off on the 10th hole on Saturday, Tiger went on a tear going birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie and shot 31 on the front.  He made eagle at 1 and with a bogey at 8 finished the day at 65.  It wasn’t his best round at Riviera, he shot 64 in the final round in 2004 but it was his third 65 at Riveria and showed that he can still play well.  The only bummer of the week was playing his final 8 holes in 3 over, but that was probably due to tiredness.  One thing about Tiger, he talked about his routine for the week and how he was getting up at 3 in the morning to get ready to play at 7 each of the last three days.  One thing, Tiger is 43 which isn’t really old but he could tire easily, especially in tough situations.  I saw that in his 4 wins in 2013, Tiger seemed to tire in the final round and barely held on.  I saw Tiger tired at Carnoustie in the final round of the British Open and in his match with Phil Mickelson during Thanksgiving weekend, he showed that he was very tired when the match went extra holes.  This isn’t physical fatigue as much as it’s mental fatigue and if anything since Tiger works and thinks hard I can understand this kind of fatigue.  Still, with the Masters coming up Tiger is on track.  He has never played at Club de Golf Chapultepec, but I like his odds this week.  The course is right up Tiger’s alley and with the high elevation, he will be able to take advantage of this, look for him to play well and contend, who knows he can win.

Can Justin get over last week?

Have to say that Justin’s meltdown last week at the Genesis is probably good for him at his age.  Just about every great player has had to experience what Justin did, a lot of it can be blamed on the poor weather and the fact that these guys were up early for three of the four days and that does take it’s toll, even on young players like Justin Thomas.  For 50 holes Thomas was near perfect playing those holes in 17 under.  But after making birdie at the first hole of his final round, Thomas was five over par.  A lot of it was weather related but the two things he would like back is his putting on 12 and 13.  On 12 he rolled a 31-foot birdie to four feet away, but three-putted from there.  On the next hole he three-putted from 63 feet and just like that he went from leading the tournament to falling behind.  Thomas was able to make birdie at 16, but J.B. Holmes kept it together to beat Justin.  For Thomas, this is probably the first time that he has really blown a tournament in the final holes on the PGA Tour.  Now in the nine times he has led or had a co-lead after 54 holes, he has won 5 times.  Before this week his biggest collapse was the 2017 WGC-Mexico Championship on the same course being played this week.  Thomas had a one-shot lead going into the final round and after making birdie on the first hole make bogeys at 2 and 4, then birdied 5 before making a double at 7 and bogey at 8.  He played well on the back with three birdies and a bogey but the 72 didn’t cut the mustard as he finished T-5th, three shots back of winner Dustin Johnson.

The important thing is that Thomas has played well at Club de Golf Chapultepec, he is 27 under in his eight rounds and is the low man of those that have played both years.  So you have to like him this year, the course is perfect for him and he is playing well.  I don’t think what happened Sunday at Riviera will bother him, at the same time I don’t think that he thinks that the “Golfing Gods” owe him one after last week.  Think he will practice hard and you can bet that on Sunday going into the back nine Thomas will be part of the picture on who can win this week.

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 2019; the WCG-Mexico championship will be a 72-hole, stroke-play event with a limited field of 72 players.  It will include the top-50 players in the World Golf Ranking plus the top-30 from the FedEx Cup point list from 2018, the top-10 of the 2018-19 FedEx Cup standings, the top-20 from the final 2018 Race To Dubai and the top-10 from the 2019 Race to Dubai standings.  Also the top-2 from the 2018 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 $10.25 million purse with the winner receiving $1.745 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 was 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.
  • 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 Reno-Tahoe Championship, in 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 this event was played in 2017, 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 in it’s two years is 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.
  • Last year the scoring average was 70.35 and was ranked 31st hardest.  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.  In 2017 Rory McIlroy got sick and didn’t bother to return last year.  Guess he knows better because he is in the field.  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.

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing at 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 2019. What we do is take their rank for each stat and then add up the four categories.
The first thing to understand, this is just the third time that the Club de Golf Chapultepec is being used. Between 2007 and 2016 for ten years the event was played at Doral Blue just outside of Miami. The course is totally different and with the winds coming off the ocean, the conditions were totally different, so we really can only use the history of the last two events. The course, Club de Golf Chapultepec, 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 70.35 making it the 31st hardest course on the PGA Tour. But more importantly, the course played just under three-quarters of a shot of the average that it played in 2017, 71.05. So we can see one really important trend, the course got drastically easier the second time around and I can see the pro’s getting even better playing it a third time. We can see that the course is not the favorite of some players as Jason Day and Justin Rose took a pass. We knew that Adam Scott wasn’t going to play, he didn’t say it was because of the course but more a scheduling problem, but the fact is when marquee players don’t play it’s not that important, even when they can win a nod under $2 million.
Now last year Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson didn’t play and they are in the field, so that is good news.
The course has some things that help make this a “Bombers Course.” The biggest thing is its elevation, it’s just over 7,600 feet above sea level making it the highest course ever played on the PGA Tour. The last two years the course was lush and the ball had very little roll to it, still the course average drive on all the holes were 302.7 yards with it ranked 37th in driving distance for all holes measured meaning that only one course, Firestone saw longer average drives.
So we can see off the bat that the course is big for long hitters, especially since it ranks 18th in driving accuracy. 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. Now in the first year the 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. Last year that stat changed as the course ranked 23rd in rough proximity which means the rough had more bite and the same this year, look for the rough to be a lot tougher making wayward drives pay a price.

In looking at the stats for Club de Golf Chapultepec, in 2017 the first stat that struck one 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. But last year that wasn’t the case, winner Phil Mickelson ranked 12th and runners Justin Thomas ranked 3rd and five of the top ten were in the top-ten in this stat so it’s still important.
So if you hit it long off the tee, straight and hit lot’s of greens you should do good, but last year the secret for Mickelson winning, Justin Thomas finishing 2nd and Rafael Cabera-Bello finishing T-3rd they all putting the best of the other players in the field.
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 and you can see that the two winners Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson won on Riviera which has Poa Annua greens, adding more to it both have won on Pebble Beach which also has Poa Annua greens. Now the difference was night and day on the greens for Johnson winning in 2017 and Mickelson winning last year. For Johnson in 2017 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.
But last year Mickelson won due to on and around the greens. First, he was 2nd in Scrambling and in Strokes Gained-Putting he ranked 3rd. In putts inside ten feet, Mickelson made 65 of 69 which was 2nd best and he was good in the 10 to 15-foot range, making 4 of 8 and only made 2 putts all week over 15 feet. So we can see that putting is an important element in playing well this week. So these are the reason that Strokes Gained Tee-to Green is our first stat and Strokes Gained-Putting is our second 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 in 2017, making ten birdies and two pars. Last year Phil Mickelson didn’t match Johnson but was very good playing the par 5s in 8 under, making 8 birdies, three pars, and one bogey. Overall the course played to a 4.71 average on par 5 average, ranking T-20th in 2017 and last year played to a 4.64 average and 29th hardest.
For our last stat, we have to go with Par Breakers, 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 Mickelson was T-2nd last year. In 2017 six of the players were in the top-ten in ParBreakers while last year 8 of the 11 players in the top ten were in the top-ten in Par Breakers at the WGC-Mexico.

Now we can only hope that after two really poor weeks of weather that in Mexico things will be better. In looking at the long-range forecast, rain will not play a factor, with each day being in the high 70s. But the wind will play a factor, each day will be over 10 mph with Thursday seeing gusts up to 17 mph.

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 to make birdies and eagles on them are important this week.

*Par Breakers: The course is not that demanding like last week’s venue Riviera. So with Club de Golf Chapultepec ranked 35th in this stat last year it’s important for players to make lots of eagles and birdies. Last year the field averaged making 3.79 per round and there were 26 eagles.

45 of the 72 players from this year’s field with stats from this year (no Tiger):

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

Here is the link for the other 35 players in this year’s field.

DraftKings tips

It’s nice to be at an event with no cut.  This gives you a good chance to have all players give us 72 holes, so remember the golden rule.  Be sure to pick those that will make lot’s of birdies and eagles, that will help your point total.

*Here are the guys that are very costly:

  • Justin Thomas – $11,800
  • Dustin Johnson – $11,500
  • Rory McIlroy – $11,100
  • Jon Rahm – $10,700
  • Rickie Fowler- $10,300
  • Bryson DeChambeau – $10,000
  • Brooks Koepka – $9,800
  • Tiger Woods – $9,500
  • Phil Mickelson – $9,300
  • Xander Schauffele – $9,100
  • Hideki Matsuyama – $9,000

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 $23,300 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 impossible in getting five other great players.  With so many poor players under $7,000, it will be a stretch if you take either Thomas or Johnson to pick anyone worth over $9,000.  So it’s very important to ask yourself, is pick Thomas or Johnson that important?  Justin Thomas is at $11,800 and I say he will contend on the back nine on Sunday.  I also think that the odds are good for him winning, he has played great the two times he has played this event on this course, he is 27 under and shot in the 60s five times including a 62.  As for Dustin Johnson at $11,500 he dominated the course in 2017 and also played well in 2018 finishing T-7th.  Johnson has struggled since winning in Saudi Arabia three weeks ago, but I think a lot of that was jet lag.  Think that Johnson will again play well, but don’t think it will be good enough to win.  One thing to watch about Dustin, he will make a lot of birdies and some eagles, that’s a good reason to pick him.  You also can’t go wrong with Rory McIlroy at $11,100.  He also makes a lot of birdies and I can see him winning, he has played great this year and is very close, close enough that he can put it together in Mexico.  You can’t discount Jon Rahm at $10,700.  He has played ok on this course but the big question are you going to take Rahm over Thomas, Johnson or McIlroy?  You know the answer.  The same with Rickie Fowler at $10,300, he won the last time he played but he has never shown a great liking to this course so I say no.  Bryson DeChambeau is at $10,000 and has never played in this event.  He is good but I don’t see him playing good enough to win, yes he won last month in Dubai but not this week in Mexico.  Brooks Koepka is at $9,800 and I say no, he hasn’t played that great of late and didn’t play well in this event in 2017.  Now Tiger Woods at $9,500 is a different story.  I think that this is a course that he will like and after playing well over the weekend at Riviera, I think he will contend this week.  If you are really careful with your other four picks, you can take Justin Thomas and either Woods or Phil Mickelson.  Talking about the defender, Mickelson is at $9,300 and is someone to think about.  He has played good this year and is 27 under in eight rounds, seven of those rounds were in the 60s so yes Phil is a good choice.  Xander Schauffele is at $9,100 and frankly, I say no, he won the first of January but hasn’t contended since.  Last is Hideki Matsuyama at $9,000, he has played well but I don’t think he will contend this week.

*Players in that $7,300 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Lot’s of tough choices, first Paul Casey at $8,600 is a good choice.  Has done ok on this course and has played well the last month.  Bubba Watson is at $8,400 and a very good buy, he can play this course and has done well in his last two starts.  On paper, Tommy Fleetwood at $8,200 looks good.  He was runner-up in 2017 but T-14th last year.  The big problem is his inconsistent play, just don’t think he is ready to win.  One good pick is Rafael Cabrera-Bello at $7,800.  He was T-3rd last year and even though he has not played great this year is still a good pick. Another key pick is Tyrrell Hatton at $7,300.  I like him because he finished 10th and T-3rd in this event on this course, so look for another good week for him.

Are there any “Bargains” out there?

It’s really important to find two or three good players under $7,300.  My first choice is Lee Westwood at $7,100, he always makes a lot of birdies and he will give you ok numbers and a possible top-ten.  Thorbjorn Olesen is at $7,000 and even though has never played this event, think the course will be good for him.  Also, think that Kiradech Aphibarnrat is a great bargain at $6,700, he was T-5th in this event last year, he hasn’t played well of late but maybe this will change this. Danny Willett at $6,600 is also a good buy, he won the Masters and I can see him playing well on this course.  Ryan Fox is $6,600 and gets off a flight from Australia where he won last week.

 

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, it’s the third time it’s being played but still takes some experience to do well on it.  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 Reno-Tahoe 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. In 2017 Dustin Johnson played the par 4s in 5 under, while Phil Mickelson was 7 under last year.
  • 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:

Rory McIlroy

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T7 T3 T9 T25 T8 3 T10 T65 T20

Think his game is ready to shine and put everything together and run away with an event.

Justin Thomas

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
2 T5 T35

Has proven himself the last two years, also has played well this year, should have won in L.A.

Tiger Woods

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T25 Win WD T10 T9 5 Win

Showed us a lot last week, he loves playing in this event and even though he hasn’t won a WGC event in a bit, he rules in this format. Look for him to be the old Tiger this week.

Best of the rest:

Dustin Johnson

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T7 Win T14 Win T4 T12 T35 2 T56 T35

Has won on the course before and always seems to play well, he could do the same as he did two years ago.

Phil Mickelson

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
Win T7 5 T31 T16 T3 T43 T55 T14 Win T20 T23

He plays great on this course, lot’s of good memories of last year.

Paul Casey

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T12 T16 7 T38 T51 T18 T6 T31 T51 T9

Think he has been good this year just has to go up a notch that could happen this year.

Bubba Watson

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T9 T38 2 3 T2 T18 2 72

Plays well at Riviera and Augusta, both those courses are like Club de Golf Chapultepec.

Tyrrell Hatton

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T3 10

Has done well the two times he has played there.

Bryson Dehambeau

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
First time playing in this event

Has the power and the brains to play well here.

Solid contenders

Rickie Fowler

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T37 T16 T8 T12 T44 T35 T45 8

Played well three weeks ago, could carry over to this week.

Tony Finau

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T27

Has the power to play well on the course, his game is coming around.

Jon Rahm

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T20 T3

Played well in 2017.

Hideki Matsuyama

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T25 T35 T23 T34

His game is also coming around and he could be a big surprise.

Brooks Koepka

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T48 T23 T17

Has the power to beat this course up.

Long shots that could come through:

Rafael Cabrera-Bello

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T3 T38 T11 T63 65

Guy was good last year and he finds a way to contend.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T5 T49 67

Another player that has proven himself on this course.

Ryan Fox

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
First time playing in this event

Showed a lot with his win last week in Australia.

Worst Bets:

Jordan Spieth

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T14 T12 T17 T17 T34

Boy he has been terrible the last three weekends.

Comments

  1. what is the status of H. Stenson? I see he is scheduled to play 3 of next 4 weeks.

  2. His game is not very good. Yes my first thought was that he would be a great dark-horse this week, especially after looking ok in his 4th place finish at the Hero. The following week he was 4th at the Indonesian Masters. But for this year he missed the cut at Abu Dhabi, Dubai and in Saudi Arabia so something has to be wrong with his game (he is the worst in our who’s hot and who’s not list). On top of that he has never played the course not showing up last year and withdrawing in 2017. So I think he is one of the worst picks this year.

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