This week a high quality field rolls into Naucalpan, Mexico for the WGC-Mexico Championship, despite some notable absences. World No.1, Justin Rose and World No.11, Jason Day both skip the event, as does Day’s countryman Adam Scott, who was in the hunt last week at Riviera. Between the three, they’ve made just three appearances over the first two years since this event moved to Mexico, and have not garnered a top-35 finish between them, so it’s no great surprise they are elsewhere this week.
There were four players who gained late entry, but are also taking the week off and they are; last week’s winner J.B. Holmes, Si Woo Kim who has finished 3rd and 4th in his last two starts, Brandt Snedeker and Adam Hadwin.
Those who took up the late opportunity were; Byeong Hun An, Charles Howell III, Satoshi Kodaira, Tom Lewis and lastly, Adrian Otaegui.
Club de Golf Chapultepec, 7,345 Yards, Par 71
Here are the key metrics I am looking at this week:
Putting: Poa Annua
Good Ball-Striking is key here, so good T2G numbers and Ball Striking stats will be advantageous, and whilst the course won’t play its full length due to altitude, having a shorter club in your hand going into these greens will be helpful. This course will actually play as one of the shortest the players will face all season, once the true adjustments are made, so it is not going to be a bombers paradise here.
Missing the greens happens, so those that scramble well will be able to keep up momentum and being able to putt on bumpy Poa Annua, similar to that of last week at Riviera will be advantageous also. See Josh Culp’s futureoffantasy.com for more information on the best putters on these greens.
For a full break down of the course and key statistics, please see my betting preview here
The Favourite – Jon Rahm ($10,700)
Whilst many are going to be rightly drawn to picking Justin Thomas ($11,800) and Dustin Johnson ($11,500), there are not many players in world golf more consistent than Jon Rahm. He’s made 7/7 cuts this season and finished inside the top-10 on six occasions. No cut to worry about this week, you are guaranteed four rounds of this superstar who can score on any given day. Averaging 96.0 FFPG this season, you are going to get plenty of points from the Spaniard this week, especially on a course he has enjoyed over two visits. He finished 3rd here on debut in 2017 and 20th last year, and is consistently at the top of the leaderboard, wherever he plays. Considering the discount you get on him versus the top two, he is a must-play for me here.
The Alternative – Rickie Fowler ($10,300)
Despite winning on his last start, I can see Fowler being one of the lesser owned in this range, alongside Bryson DeChambeau who is making his debut. I say this because in two starts here in Mexico, Fowler has finished T16 and T37, but he can overcome that this week.
Including the Hero Word Challenge, Fowler has played five times this season, finishing T5 or better on three occasions as well as T16 at the Mayakoba. His T66 finish at Torrey Pines aside, where he has struggled in recent years, Fowler has been in imperious form this season and he can continue that this week.
A third-round 73 cost him here in 2017, as he shot three rounds of 69 or better that week, including a closing 67. He was less impressive last year, but it was again one round (Sunday 75) that really saw him fall down the leaderboard. He’d won the Honda the week before his start here in 2017 and will be coming in this week with a week’s rest after a victory on his last start, so he’s ready for a career-best in this event.
Obviously you should expect big things from anyone in this range, but these two offer a valuable discount versus the top three, and I would say they both make stronger claims than the cheaper DeChambeau here, despite his recent form.
The Favourite – Bubba Watson ($8,400)
I think Bubba Watson is being overlooked this week, and this two-time major winner and two-time WGC champion can be a fantastic asset in fantasy this week.
Watson made 21 birdies here last year, leaving Tommy Fleetwood (23) and Phil Mickelson (22) as the only two players to make more. Considering only 20 players made eagles here last year, with only 6 making two, eagles are at a clear premium, and the birdies will need to be racked up here, something Watson is capable of.
Whilst he was average on debut in 2017, finishing exactly middle of the pack (38th), he finished T9 here last year, with a third-round 72 costing him a top-5. He shot rounds of 66 and 67 last year, and another year on, he can expect to better his result once again.
No one hit the ball better tee-to-green than Watson in Phoenix, where he finished 4th, and he put in a good performance again at Riviera last week. Watson is notorious for struggling when defending a title, so his T15 finish last week was encouraging, especially as it could have been much better. A four-putt on the final hole cost Bubba a T8 finish and that can be chalked up to concentration after a long week, as opposed to anything more concerning.
At $8,400 he is a snip this week.
The Alternative –Tommy Fleetwood ($8,200)
Tommy Fleetwood’s form is not where we expect it to be right now, but he ranked 7th in SG: Tee-to-Green last week and 14th in Scrambling, en-route to his T28 finish at Riviera. He also ranks 9th and 24th in these categories season-long, and despite a small sample size, that could be key this week.
A good putting week away from contending again, a return to a course he’s loved over the past two years (2-14) may have come at the best time, and I see no reason not to plug him in your lineups.
Fleetwood’s rise to prominence came from an improved spell with the short stick, combined with his elite tee-to-green play, and he’s not far from top form again, despite some limited efforts in recent months.
If you’re a course form advocate or Fleetwood believer you’re going to opt for him here, and I couldn’t put you off, especially at $8,200.
Honourable mention- Xander Schauffele ($9,100)
The only concern is ownership, as he’s available at such a discount, he’s likely to be popular. Given he has two wins in limited, no-cut events this season, he makes perfect sense after a decent debut, where he was 18th with an opening 65.
The Favourite – Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($7,800)
Rafa Cabrera-Bello is a consistent performer, who tends to show his best stuff on the European Tour, but in the last couple of years especially there has been flashes of brilliance on the PGA Tour as well.
This season alone, Bello has played in five PGA Tour-sanctioned events, including the WGC-HSBC Champions, and has finished inside the top-25 in four of those starts. Bello has already impressed in two no-cut events this season, finishing T3 at the CJ Cup and T14 at the HSBC, and even when 50th at the CIMB he closed with a round of 66, so he’s shown what he can do with a full week under his belt.
Two-straight top-25 finishes at Pebble Beach and Riviera have come in his last two starts and this week he returns to a course that he finished 3rd at last year. He broke 70 in all four rounds last year, including a 66 and two 67’s, but still fell one shot shy of the play-off, and he’ll be keen to take the extra step this week.
With the likes of Sergio Garcia, Cameron Smith and Tyrrell Hatton all in this range, there’s a good chance ownership is spread around, and Bello is worth rostering.
The Alternative – Tyrrell Hatton ($7,300)
As already mentioned, Hatton is in this range where there are a lot of good golfers available, and whilst his course form is impeccable here (10th and 3rd), some may be put off by his current form.
No top-10’s since throwing away the Dunhill Links in Scotland back in October, there’s valid reason for concern, but I believe a return to this course will bring the best out in him.
If ownership is low on him, I think he’s going to offer great value this week, as he has four rounds guaranteed to produce the goods he’s shown here already. His form may actually be better than it first appears as well.
Hatton finished T15 in Phoenix on debut, despite some shaky iron play, thanks to an opening 66 and closing 68, and that in itself is enough to suggests his game could be close, with just a minor improvement.
He will be disappointed with his first effort at Riviera, where he missed the cut with rounds of 70-75, but a return to Mexico should prompt an uptick in form, especially as he didn’t have to stick around as long as others in LA.
There has been some stock put into the theory that form at Crans-sur-Sierre may be a good pointer here, given the adjustments players make for altitude there, and Hatton has three top-3 finishes in that event and a 2nd at the Joburg Open, another altitude-affected event.
A top-20/30 last week would have seen him over 8k here, and one of the main picks, so one missed cut gives us a chance to get him on board at a discount.
Honourable mention – Lee Westwood ($7,100)
I was really surprised to see Westwood at such a cheap price this week, given his win at the Nedbank and three more top-20’s since, including a 7th in Dubai. A missed cut in Saudi Arabia was enough to put a few people off, as was his 28th place finish in 2017, but there was promising signs that week. Rounds of 67-71-66 were undone by a final round 78, but he had every chance of a top-10 finish that week, and I expect him to be in or around the top dozen this week. At $7,100 he should make a few lineups, especially when you consider he is a former winner at Crans as well.
The Favourite – Danny Willett ($6,600)
Danny Willett is going to be a popular pick this week, given his recent win in Dubai, and his improved form in general, especially over his last two starts in America.
T25 at Torrey Pines and T33 last time out at Riviera, where he got better through the week, it’s fair to say Willett is showing signs of his pre-Masters winning form. He’s still not back to that Augusta-winning level just yet, but he doesn’t look far away, and still just 31, Willett has plenty of his career ahead of him.
The Englishman finished T12 and T3 in this event when it was at Doral, so the field quality won’t faze him, something he showed once again by winning a major championship. Having the mettle to get over the line in one of the four big events, especially in the style Willett did cannot be understated, and despite his loss of form since, that week should not be forgotten.
A victory at Crans in 2015 prepared him for the next level, so the altitude won’t bother him this week, and a top-20 finish with plenty of birdies would payback his $6,600 price tag. After a slow start at the CJ Cup (69-77) earlier in the season, Willett ended the week with a 65 on Sunday, showing what he can do if given all four rounds, which he will get this week.
The Alternative – Patton Kizzire ($6,700)
Patton Kizzire got into this event last year, thanks to his two victories at the Mayakoba and Sony Open, and he performed admirably, finishing in a tie for 12th.
On the face of it, you would suspect that the T12 here was just him riding his winning form from the early part of the season, but he had actually finished T42, T31, MC in his three starts between the Sony and this event, shooting 74-78 at the Honda the week before to miss the weekend by plenty.
On closer inspection it would appear that certain, shorter tracks suit Kizzire’s eye and this one may well be one of them. He shot 69-69-71-66 on debut last year, finishing one stroke outside the top-10, and given some of the form he’s shown again this season I think he could repeat that.
Four rounds of 68 or better, including a Sunday 65 at the Sony saw him finish T13 on his title defence, and even though he finished T55 when defending at the Mayakoba, he opened with rounds of 65-66.
Rounds of 63, 65 and 68 saw him finish T15 at the RSM and a steady week at the Tournament of Champions gave him his first and so far only top-10 (T8) of the season, so there has been plenty to draw confidence from this season.
He may have missed the past two cuts but that doesn’t bother me, given his performances in those two events last season. He managed to play well here last year despite a loss of form in the build-up, and his form nosedived after this event, so maybe this is just a good spot for him. At $6,700 he is worth chancing.
Honourable mention – Alexander Bjork ($6,100)
One of the lowest priced players in the field, I feel Alexander Bjork has been dismissed quickly here, despite his improving stature in the game.
The Swede made his breakthrough at the Volvo China Open last year, and almost doubled his tally at the British Masters last October. That 2nd at Woburn was his second runner-up finish on the European Tour, after he finished one stroke shy at the 2017 Hong Kong Open. Top-6 finishes at the Open de France, Trophee Hassan II and Dubai Desert Classic since 2017 further vindicate his ability, and he can take it up another notch here.
He was T28 in similar company at the WGC-HSBC Champions earlier in the season, and has made 5/5 cuts since, including three top-20 finishes, so he is in fine form of late.
Whilst I don’t expect him to win this week, I see no reason why he can’t make enough birdies over four days to prove useful in this format, and his T16 finish at Crans in 2017, which was one shot shy of a top-10 suggests he can cope with the demands of altitude.