Despite bagging three 50/1 each-way places from last week’s preview at the ISPS Handa World Super 6, I’m still a little disappointed not to have walked away with the winner with both Paul Dunne and Adrian Otaegui making it through to Sunday’s semi-finals in Perth. Otaegui looked the most likely winner and played some excellent golf right up until the final against Ryan Fox, whereas Paul Dunne showed enough to suggest that he warrants further support in the coming weeks when the course and conditions suit. Dunne also had a 2-shot lead on Saturday in the 54-hole leader market before a late bogey meant he finished 2nd in a week that wasn’t quite meant to be.
Profit is profit though as we turn our attention to this week in confident mood. The first WGC event of the season is upon us already and we return for the third of what’s planned to be seven WGC Mexico Championships that will be held here at the Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City over the next few years. An elite field of 72 players with no cut is our task this week and with all of the World’s top-50 here in attendance with the exception of Justin Rose, Jason Day and Adam Scott, we’re in for some fun on an entertaining course played at altitude and in glorious weather.
Before we talk through my WGC Mexico Championship tips, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is increasing in the inevitable build-up to The Masters. Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) our Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here. Masters lovers will also enjoy our Ante-post Masters Podcast.
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Club de Golf Chapultepec. Designer: Willie & Alex Smith, 1921. Course Type: Classical, Altitude; Par: 71; Length: 7,330 yards; Fairways/Rough: Kikuyu; Greens: Poa Annua, 12-13 on the stimpmeter.
Course Overview. The course has a classical, old-style feel to it with its narrow, tree-lined fairways and small greens. Players have commented that it feels very much like a tight Spanish or Italian track in terms of its characteristics, however at over 7,000 feet of elevation the altitude adds another dimension to this week with balls flying anything between 10-20% further depending on the club used. So a 7,330 yardage in reality reads sub-6,500 yards which makes this a course that should reap birdies and eagles for those players who can keep the ball in play from off the tee.
A gentle start to the front-9 greets the players with the driveable par-4 1st hole producing 5 eagles and 109 birdies last year. Aside from the three par-5s, the first and second hole – which is another short par-4 that requires a flick with a sand iron after a successful drive – are the easiest holes on the course. Each of the four par-3s played over par last year with the 235 yard 7th hole ranking 2nd overall in terms of difficulty behind the 525 yard par-4 8th.
Aside from the fact that this is a tight, tree-lined track that demands accuracy or a mercurial short game, the biggest challenge over the two renewals held here has been on the greens. Relatively speedy putting surfaces that contain sufficient Poa Annua to describe them as such are the order of the day, however whilst they’re not bad greens they do contain a lot of movement and an awful lot of short putts were missed last year and in 2017. Players who have the creativity to use the undulations on the greens to their benefit – almost Augusta-style on occasions – may well have an advantage and those who played here competitively will certainly have much more of an idea what to expect here this time around.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Winners & Prices. WGC Mexico Championship: 2018: Phil Mickelson, 25/1; 2017: Dustin Johnson, 7/1; WGC Cadillac Championship (Doral): 2016: Adam Scott, 12/1; 2015: Dustin Johnson, 22/1; 2014: Patrick Reed, 80/1; 2013: Tiger Woods, 12/1; 2012: Justin Rose, 66/1; 2011: Nick Watney, 20/1; 2010: Ernie Els, 40/1.
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Mexico City is here. A dry event is expected with light to moderate winds, peaking at 10-12 mph in the afternoons, and temperatures reaching around the mid-to-high 70s Fahrenheit.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors.
Stats from the top-4 finishers from each of the last 2 years gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:
- 2018: 1st, Phil Mickelson (-16) . 302 yards (40th), 48.2% fairways (53rd), 69.4% greens in regulation (25th), 81.8% scrambling (2nd), 1.66 putts per GIR (3rd)
- 2018: 2nd, Justin Thomas (-16) 302 yards (43rd), 66.1% fairways (9th), 72.2% greens in regulation (16th), 80.0% scrambling (3rd), 1.60 putts per GIR (1st)
- 2018: 3rd, Rafa Cabrera-Bello (-15). 302 yards (43rd), 58.9% fairways (24th), 69.4% greens in regulation (25th), 68.2% scrambling (18th), 1.60 putts per GIR (2nd)
- 2018: 3rd, Tyrrell Hatton (-15). 299 yards (50th), 71.4% fairways (3rd), 75% greens in regulation (7th), 72.2% scrambling (10th), 1.70 putts per GIR (6th)
- 2017: 1st, Dustin Johnson (-14) . 322 yards (4th), 58.9% fairways (49th), 72.2% greens in regulation (5th), 70.0% scrambling (14th), 1.67 putts per GIR (5th)
- 2017: 2nd, Tommy Fleetwood (-13) 304 yards (21st), 73.2% fairways (5th), 72.2% greens in regulation (5th), 80.0% scrambling (2nd), 1.77 putts per GIR (30th)
- 2017: 3rd, Ross Fisher (-12). 303 yards (25th), 67.9% fairways (12th), 75.0% greens in regulation (2nd), 66.7% scrambling (21st), 1.69 putts per GIR (8th)
- 2017: 3rd, Jon Rahm (-12). 332 yards (2nd), 51.8% fairways (65th), 59.7% greens in regulation (46th), 86.2% scrambling (1st), 1.77 putts per GIR (28th)
The driving distance stats in isolation are almost academic here given the altitude and the fact that driver is seldom used on this course as players seek to find position on the fairways first and foremost. That’s easier said than done given the tight, tree-lined layout here in Mexico City, however players who can find the right parts of fairways have the best chance of attacking these multi-tier greens which are the toughest part of the course. Aside from the undulations, the greens themselves contain a lot of subtle movements and compared to some of the snooker table flat greens that the professionals encounter, these are far more challenging. 3-putts are commonplace as are missed short putts, however players can’t get overly aggressive on the putting surfaces given how speedy they are, so patience is key around here.
What’s noticeable from the stats above is that neither fairways hit nor greens found in regulation stats are particularly high, which puts the emphasis more on how players perform on and around the greens here. Despite the fact that we have some attackable par-4s due to the impact of the altitude here – and the par-5s are equally gettable – brute force from off the tee isn’t the only way to play this course and I suspect that any type of player can contend around this track if they stick to their game plan. With conditions likely to be very similar to 2018 again this year, I’m expecting a similar winning score and a similar emphasis on scrambling and putting when looking at the eventual stats of those players who contend.
Incoming Form. Looking at the same top-4 finishers from the past 2 years, each player head either won or finished runner-up in an event in the recent past and in Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, both arrived off the back of consecutive top-6 finishes:
- 2018: 1st, Phil Mickelson: MC/54/6/20/3/15/MC/45/5/2/6
- 2018: 2nd, Justin Thomas: 6/1/47/2/17/1/11/22/14/17/9/1
- 2018: 3rd, Rafa Cabrera-Bello: 33/10/11/5/42/21/2/40/6/26/26/29
- 2018: 3rd, Tyrrell Hatton: MC/3/8/1/1/11/16/19/8/15/3/MC
- 2017: 1st, Dustin Johnson: MC/18/8/1/6/35/3/6/2/MC/3/1
- 2017: 2nd, Tommy Fleetwood: 13/15/4/37/22/14/9/3/1/MC/MC/12
- 2017: 3rd, Ross Fisher: MC/58/45/2/2/67/6/25/17/19/MC/MC
- 2017: 3rd, Jon Rahm: 59/2/25/14/MC/15/15/50/34/1/16/5
A change in scheduling means that players haven’t needed to endure the almost Major-difficulty Honda Classic immediately prior to travelling to Mexico, however the weather delays at Riviera meant that a number of this week’s field played a lot of golf on Saturday and Sunday in particular, which may have an impact in terms of fatigue. Kikuyu fairways and rough is used throughout this track which isn’t that common on the PGA Tour, however we do have recent events at Riviera last week and Torrey Pines that featured that type of set-up to potentially give us a clue as to how this might play out, particularly with the emphasis seeming to fall on short-game excellence.
Generally straighter players should in theory be favoured given the penalties for straying off-line, however the altitude shortens the holes so significantly here that taking driver off of the tee is the exception rather than the rule, which negates that to certain degree. Despite some very scoreable holes, winning scores of -14 and -16 suggests that controlled aggression may well be the order of the day and having the ability to attack and defend accordingly is key. A decent track record on Poa Annua and/or Bent/Poa putting surfaces won’t be a bad asset for potential contenders to possess, nor will a smattering of form at tracks played at altitude where more adjustment is required to distances.
Xander Schauffele’s win at the last WGC, the HSBC Champions, in October at 66/1 was the longest priced winner we’ve seen since Russell Knox won that same event at 150/1 back in 2015. That’s 12 WGC winners then at 66/1 or shorter, with 10 of those 12 rating as 25/1 or shorter chances before the event (Bubba Watson at last year’s WGC Match Play at 50/1 was the other exception), so it’s fair to say that in recent times the cream has risen to the top in these events.