Post by: Mike Philipps
The second World Golf Championship event of the season and first of 2018 takes center stage this week, as the WGC-Mexico Championship is held at Club de Golf Chapultepec (par 71, 7,267 yards) in Naulcapan, Mexico. Naulcapan, located about an hour north of Mexico City, sits roughly 7,500 feet above sea level, giving the world’s best players help in an area they don’t need any – distance. Last year, 29 of the 76 players in the field averaged over 300 yards off the tee, with Bubba Watson leading the way at nearly 340 yards.
This marks the second edition of the WGC-Mexico, as it took over from the WGC-Cadillac that was held in Florida for the previous six years. There isn’t much competitive data at Chapultepec, so last year’s performances weighed heavily on this week’s list. In the player breakdowns below, only last year’s results are brought up for the event.
Best Golf Betting Sites in 2018:
Like the other three WGC stroke play events, the WGC-Mexico is a cut-free event because of its condensed field. Unlike regular tour events that have well over 100 players, the WGC-Mexico Championship features just 64 players this week. However, those 64 are among the absolute best.
In order to be invited, a player must either be ranked in the top 50 of the World Golf Rankings, have finished in the top 30 of the FedEx Cup or Race to Dubai standings for 2016-17, have won a worldwide tournament with a minimum Official World Golf Strength of Field Rating or have select tournament victories from other major tours outside of the PGA and European Tours.
The result is a field that features six of the top-seven – including defending champ and World No. 1 Dustin Johnson – and 20 of the top-25 ranked players in the world. Below are my top 10 picks to win this week, along with some longer shots. We’ll discuss the top picks in a moment, but first let’s review the betting odds for the top-20 players in the field.
2018 WGC-Mexico Odds
The two charts below compare the odds for the top-20 players (according to their odds) across three of my favourite golf betting sites for our readers. These are the odds for each golfer to win outright, but you will also find even more betting options at each bookmaker. Some of the other types of golf bets you can place include head-to-head matchups pitting one player against another, top-3 finish and more.
The Top Picks
The players discussed in this section are all priced by the oddsmakers as potential winners. You won’t make as much money betting on these players, but your odds of getting it right are improved by backing players with reputations such as these. Anyone mentioned in this section has all the ingredients necessary to take down a WGC event.
- Official World Golf Ranking: 1
- Summary: Johnson has finished in the top 16 in all six of his starts this season, and he’s shown flashes of the dominance he displayed last year at this time when he won the WGC-Mexico. He lapped the field in winning the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January and looked poised to win for the third time in his career at Pebble Beach before having to settle for second. Like last season, Johnson ranks among the top five on the PGA Tour in four Strokes Gained categories: Off-the-Tee (1st), Total (2nd), Tee-to-Green (2nd) and Around-the-Green (5th). If Johnson has his game in order, he’s tough to beat.
- At the WGC-Mexico Championship: Johnson had a mediocre start at last year’s WGC-Mexico, but after an opening-round 70, he played the final three rounds in 13-under-par to claim his fourth career World Golf Championship title. Look no further than DJ’s domination of the par fives, making birdie on 10 of the 12 opportunities, leading the field with a total of 10-under-par.
- Last event: Johnson’s title defense at the Genesis Open a few weeks ago got off to a sluggish start, as he carded an opening-round 74. He bounced back in a big way with a 69 on Friday and then a stellar round of 64 on Saturday, but another subpar round on Sunday (73) left him outside the top 10 in a tie for 16th.
- Official World Golf Ranking: 3
- Summary: With his victory at last week’s Honda Classic, Thomas has now won seven times in his last 32 starts. No one in the game has more wins over their last 32 starts and only two players in the last five years can boast more victories over a 32-start stretch (Jason Day, Jordan Spieth). The win also lifts Thomas, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, to the top of the 2017-18 FedEx Cup standings. At just 24 years old, Thomas is getting into some pretty rarefied air, and he appears to just be scratching the surface of his immense talent.
- At the WGC-Mexico Championship: Thomas finished T-5 at last year’s WGC-Mexico, firing a pair of 66s in the process, but it could have been even better. He held the 54-hole, but his 72 on Sunday opened the door for Dustin Johnson. Thomas led the field in birdies for the week (24) and posted the best cumulative score on the par fours (10-under). Surprisingly, he didn’t take advantage of the par fives that well, playing them in just two-under-par.
- Last event: Thomas earned his eighth career PGA Tour title by defeating Luke List on the first playoff hole at last week’s Honda Classic. He nearly holed his third shot on the final hole of regulation, then birdied the hole again after reaching the green from 258 yards away to complete the victory. After a second-round 72 that saw him make 17 pars and a double bogey, Thomas caught fire on the weekend. He carded a third-round 65, and followed it up with a 68 on Sunday to close the deal.
- Official World Golf Ranking: 11
- Summary: The reigning Race to Dubai champion, Fleetwood finds himself in second place so far this season thanks to a win and two sixth place finishes on the European Tour. But it’s not just on the European Tour where he’s been a force. Since last year’s WGC-Mexico, where he finished second to Dustin Johnson, he has 14 top-10s, collecting six of those over his last eight starts worldwide. Though it’s over a small sample size – he’s played just three PGA Tour events this season – Fleetwood ranks in the top 16 in five Strokes Gained categories: Tee-to-Green (2nd), Total (4th), Off-the-Tee (6th), Around-the-Green (12th) and Approach-the-Green (16th).
- At the WGC-Mexico Championship: Fleetwood collected his first top-five in North America in almost two years when he finished runner-up at last year’s WGC-Mexico. He stormed up the leaderboard by carding a pair of 66s on the weekend, eventually finishing at 13-under-par. Fleetwood’s accuracy from tee to green was in full display, as he ranked fifth in both Fairways Hit and Greens in Regulation. He was just one of two players to hit at least 72% of both fairways and greens for the week (Matthew Fitzpatrick).
- Last event: Fleetwood carded four rounds of par or better on the difficult PGA National, putting him in position to get his first PGA Tour victory at last week’s Honda Classic. Unfortunately, a pair of bogeys on the back nine on Sunday derailed his chances, and he had to settle for solo fourth. Fleetwood did lead the field in Greens in Regulation, hitting 75 percent for the week.
- Official World Golf Ranking: 2
- Summary: 2017-18 has been a little uneven for the World No. 2. After two wins and a runner-up in a three-start span, Rahm hasn’t finished in the top 10 in his last three starts. He’s gotten himself into excellent position in all three of those starts, but Sundays have proven problematic, posting an average score of 75. Don’t expect those troubles to last too long, though. Rahm has the power and the touch to win at any time. He ranks in the top 40 in four Strokes Gained categories, highlighted by his play from the tee: Off-the-Tee (2nd), Total (16th), Tee-to-Green (30th) and Putting (37th).
- At the WGC-Mexico Championship: Rahm grabbed the first-round lead of his first-ever WGC event, carding a 67 on Thursday at last year’s WGC-Mexico. He fired rounds of 67 and 68 on the weekend, but wound up two shots off the lead, finishing T-3. Rahm displayed his balance of touch and power, ranking second in the field in Driving Distance at over 331 yards and fourth in Total Putts.
- Last event: Rahm opened with a pair of 67s at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am to put himself in the top 10, but a final-round 76 continued his trend of recent Sunday struggles. He wound up finishing T-26.
- Official World Golf Ranking: 5
- Summary: Rose is on arguably the best run of golf in his career. Over his last 12 starts, he’s finished outside the top 10 just once, winning three times. The first of those three victories came at the season first WGC event, the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. That week, he overcame an eight-shot deficit in the final round to claim his second career World Golf Championship title. This will be Rose’s first start in over a month, so there’s the potential for some rust, but that’s about the only concern with the fifth-ranked player in the world.
- At the WGC-Mexico Championship: Rose failed to break 70 in any of his four rounds at last year’s WGC-Mexico. At even par, he had to settle for a T-38 finish.
- Last event: Rose found himself in contention again last time he teed it up, at the Farmers Insurance Open. But like the other leaders, Rose struggled on Sunday, carding a 74 and dropping out of the top five. His six-under-par total was still good for a T-8.
- Official World Golf Ranking: 4
- Summary: Spieth has put together a good string of results since finishing second in the FedEx Cup Playoffs last season, earning four top-10s in seven starts. Despite that run, he hasn’t been playing his best. He missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and had to settle for T-20 at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where he was the defending champ. His putting has been the biggest issue thus far – he ranks 161st in Strokes Gained: Putting – but he has the ability to get hot in a heartbeat. Spieth might be the player most likely to be able to grind out a win without his best stuff, so he’s still one of the favorites this week.
- At the WGC-Mexico Championship: Spieth broke par just once at last year’s WGC-Mexico, but it was done so in very impressive fashion. After playing the first two rounds in one-over, he fired a blistering round of 63, the best round of the tournament. His seven-under total was good enough for T-12.
- Last event: After a mediocre start at the Genesis Open two weeks ago, Spieth played the weekend in six-under-par to finish T-9. He led the field in scoring on the par fours for the week (three-under-par).
- Official World Golf Ranking: 7
- Summary: Fowler’s 2017-18 season got off to a tremendous start, finishing second at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba before winning the Hero World Challenge in impressive fashion. Since then, it’s been a bit of a struggle. He missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open and again at the Honda Classic last week. He still ranks in the top 20 in three Strokes Gained categories: Around-the-Green (3rd), Total (9th) and Putting (18th). His average score of just under 69.5 ranks third on the PGA Tour.
- At the WGC-Mexico Championship: Fowler carded three rounds in the 60s to finish T-16 at last year’s WGC-Mexico. For the week, he ranked second in the field in Greens in Regulation and sixth in Fairways Hit.
- Last event: Fowler missed the cut by two shots at last week’s Honda Classic. After entering the week as the defending champion, Fowler really struggled in the second round, particularly the inward nine. He bogeyed six of his last eight holes to post a 76.
- Official World Golf Ranking: 14
- Summary: After struggling greatly in North America over the previous three seasons – he had just one top-10 (10th, 2017 PLAYERS) – Noren has shown he’s more than capable of breaking through this year. He’s finished in the top 25 in all four of his starts this year, including a pair of top-three results. Combine his rising comfort level with the five wins he’s compiled on the European Tour since July 2016, and it’s only a matter of time before Noren gets in done on the PGA Tour.
- At the WGC-Mexico Championship: Noren got off to a very poor start at last year’s WGC-Mexico, carding a round of 76 on Thursday, making six bogeys and a double bogey in his first 14 holes. He finished the week with a solid round of 69 – his only round under par for the week – but he still finished T-55.
- Last event: Noren was on point three of the four rounds at last week’s Honda Classic, firing rounds of 65, 66 and 67. Unfortunately, his second-round 75 was enough to keep him one shot out of the playoff. His solo third finish was his second top-three finish in his last four starts.
- Official World Golf Ranking: 16
- Summary: After a very poor stretch last summer and early fall – he missed the cut six times in a seven-start stretch – Hatton has found his game. Over his last 10 starts, Hatton has two wins (Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Italian Open) and four more top-10s. He hasn’t finished lower than T-19 during the stretch, moving back in the top 15 of the World Golf Rankings.
- At the WGC-Mexico Championship: Hatton carded four rounds under par, earning a 10th place finish for his nine-under total. Hatton played the par threes exquisitely for the week, leading field with a score of four-under-par.
- Last event: Hatton had three outstanding rounds at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, firing a 64 and two 66s to put himself near the top of the leaderboard. Unfortunately, his second-round 72 was enough to keep him out of the winner’s circle, finishing at 20-under-par and in solo third place.
- Official World Golf Ranking: 32
- Summary: The 27-year-old Finau looks to be at the beginning of a career year. He’s finished in the top 25 in five of his eight starts, including a pair runner-ups. Finau currently leads the PGA Tour in Driving Distance at 327 yards per measured drive, and that skill alone makes him very dangerous, but he’s not just a bomber. He ranks in the top-14 in three Strokes Gained categories: Tee-to-Green (5th), Total (10th) and Approach-the-Green (14th). His putter is the only club that has really given him any trouble this season – he ranks 112th in Strokes Gained: Putting.
- At the WGC-Mexico Championship: Finau did not play last year’s WGC-Mexico Championship.
- Last event: Finau spent the entire week inside the top-five at the Genesis Open, eventually finishing tied for second. For the week, he ranked second in Driving Distance and third in Greens in Regulation.
The players in this section has the ability to score a big win, but it will require an above-and-beyond performance for any one of them to make it happen. Bets on these players are less likely to win, but when they do win, the rewards are major.
- Official World Golf Ranking: 35
- Summary: Cantlay has still not missed a cut since returning to the PGA Tour from a major back injury. In those 19 starts, Cantlay has a win (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open) and three more top-fives to his credit. Since the start of last year’s FedEx Cup Playoffs, he’s finished outside the top 20 just twice. His long hiatus from professional golf may have removed his name from the minds of many, but he is quickly making everyone remember the talent he has.
- At the WGC-Mexico Championship: Cantlay did not play last year’s WGC-Mexico Championship.
- Last event: Cantlay was the first- and second-round leader at the Genesis Open, but he played the weekend in just two-under and couldn’t keep pace with eventual champ Bubba Watson. He displayed remarkable ball striking for the week, though, leading the field in Greens in Regulation – he was the only player to hit at least 70 percent – and ranking 13th in Driving Distance.
- Official World Golf Ranking: 27
- Summary: Fisher has three second-place finishes in his last eight starts going back to October, proving that he can get himself into contention regularly. He did the same thing at last year’s WGC-Mexico, finishing T-3 after a final-round 65. In the last 12 months, Fisher has collected nine top-10 results.
- At the WGC-Mexico Championship: Fisher entered last year’s WGC-Mexico as the 71st-ranked player in the world, but he played like one of the best all week. He fired the best round of the day on both Thursday and Sunday, with only a third-round 72 keeping him winning. His 12-under total was good enough for a T-3 finish.
- Last event: Fisher carded three straight rounds of 69 to open at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, but that wasn’t enough to keep pace in the incredible scoring conditions, and he eventually finished T-45.
- Official World Golf Ranking: 30
- Summary: A seasoned veteran of professional golf at just 23 years old, Fitzpatrick finished 2017 on one of the best stretches of golf of his already accomplished career. Over his last 11 starts, Fitzpatrick has finished outside the top 15 just twice. He earned his fourth career victory at the Omega European Masters in September.
- At the WGC-Mexico Championship: Fitzpatrick alternated rounds in the 70s and the 60s at last year’s WGC-Mexico, eventually finishing at six-under-par and a tie for 16th He easily led the field in Greens in Regulation at over 80 percent for the week.
- Last event: Fitzpatrick missed the cut by one shot at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in January. His second-round 67 was not enough to overcome opening with a 73.
- Official World Golf Ranking: 21
- Summary: Harman has been a top-10 machine so far this season, earning five in just seven starts thus far. The diminutive lefty has no real weaknesses in his game, ranking in the top 50 in five of the six Strokes Gained categories – his lowest ranking is just 64th in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green – but his strength is his putter. He ranks eighth on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting. Harman isn’t one of the longest players, but he is also one of the most accurate drivers of the ball, so he could benefit from the thinner air this week.
- At the WGC-Mexico Championship: Harman did not play last year’s WGC-Mexico Championship.
- Last event: Harman really struggled his last time out, missing the cut by seven shots at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Some others to consider: Daniel Berger, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Adam Hadwin, Kevin Kisner, Marc Leishman, Pat Perez, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele
Major winners in the field: Jason Dufner, Garcia, D. Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Rose, Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Spieth (3), J. Thomas, Bubba Watson (2)
Past champs in the field: D. Johnson (2), Reed, Rose, Mickelson