This week’s WGC-Mexico Championship is, above all else, fascinating. The Club de Golf Chapultepec, which hosts this week’s event, opened in 1921. It is barely 7,000 yards long and located higher above sea level than, for example, Denver. So the strategy golfers use this week will be exceptionally intriguing.
Let’s take a look at this week’s contest.
What: WGC-Mexico Championship | Where: Naucalpan, Mexico | When: Mar. 2-5
Participants and odds
- Dustin Johnson: 13-2
- Jordan Spieth: 8-1
- Rory McIlroy: 12-1
- Henrik Stenson: 14-1
- Hideki Matsuyama: 14-1
- Rickie Fowler: 20-1
- Justin Rose: 22-1
- Adam Scott: 22-1
- Jon Rahm: 25-1
- Sergio Garcia: 25-1
Field strength: A+
The only golfer from the Official World Golf Ranking top 50 who will miss is Jason Day. He has the flu and a double ear infection. This is, by far, the best field of 2017. It’s also a no-cut event so everybody gets paid.
Three stories to watch
1. Distance control: Rory McIlroy said on Tuesday he was hitting 210-yard 8-irons which is obviously absurd. The real quest this week will be precision and control. Who can do it best? “This course is not that long, because we’re so high above sea level that the balls fly so much anyway,” director of golf Manuel Inman told the European Tour. The way these guys hit it, you’d have to make it an 8,000-yard plus course to give them a challenge when it comes to distance, so that won’t be an issue here. It’s about positioning, shaping the shots and, at this altitude, it’s about controlling your distance.
2. Rory’s return: McIlroy will play for the first time on the PGA Tour in 2017 after suffering a stress fracture in one of his ribs. He has a chance to move to No. 1 in the world with a win and assume the favorite position for Augusta in five weeks even among all the elite winners we have seen this year (Johnson, Spieth and Fowler).
3. Johnson’s first tournament as No. 1: Johnson became No. 1 two weeks ago after winning the Genesis Open. He skipped the Honda Classic last week. He will not be fazed by being No. 1 (to be honest, he may have already forgotten about it), but now his swagger will match his world ranking. Johnson has always had the look of the best golfer in the world, and now he is. On Tuesday,, but it at least gives guys something to play for outside of money.
Also, it doesn’t buy you coffee apparently.
- 2016: Adam Scott
- 2015: Dustin Johnson
- 2014: Patrick Reed
- 2013: Tiger Woods
- 2012: Justin Rose
All of these golfers of course won at Doral where this tournament was hosted for several years. This week is a bit of a foray into the unknown. Nobody knows the course. Nobody knows how it will play. Nobody knows really what to expect. This particular WGC event has been played in Spain, Atlanta, Ireland, San Francisco, England, Miami and now Mexico.
It had been played in Miami at Doral since 2007. Doral had also hosted a PGA Tour event for 40 years. It was always a difficult test that provided a terrific champion (see list above). It remains to be seen if that will hold in Mexico.
WGC-Mexico Championship Picks
Winner -- Rory McIlroy is the best golfer in this field. When in doubt about the course and the experience (nobody has any), pick the best golfer. Am I worried about rust with McIlroy? Sure, but I think the run of superstars taking down events in 2017 continues this week with the Ulsterman. Odds: 12-1
Top-10 finish -- Jordan Spieth is the safe bet here. In his last seven events worldwide, he has only finished outside the top 10 once. When it comes to precision and tough-putting courses, there is nobody better. Odds: 8-1
Sleeper -- J.B. Holmes shot one of the great rounds of the last few years in 2015 at Doral, but he has not found form of late. Still, he is one of the few two-time Ryder Cup golfers you can get at 80-1 this week. Expect him to try and overpower the course. If he picks his spots and takes the right lines, he could contend on Sunday. Odds: 80-1