Par 71, 7,330 yards
We came agonizingly close on Noren making the playoff last week at the Honda but unfortunately, he came up just short, but he did get us a full each way place.
We leave Florida and head to Mexico City for the WGC Mexico Championship. The course was designed by Scottish brothers Willie and Alex Smith and opened in 1928 and hosted to the Mexico Open from 1944 to 1960. It has three par 5’s, two of which measure just over 600 yards, four par 3’s and 11 par 4’s.
It is a similar grass type to Riviera with kikuyu fairways and a mix of poa annua and bentgrass greens. The fairways are tree lined but forgiving so accuracy shouldn’t be a massive issue. There are also some water hazards to contend with, one in particular is the par 3 17th with a lake protecting the front and left side of the green that could offer an interesting finish on Sunday.
Scoring doesn’t seem to be too difficult here. Dustin Johnson took the title last year and didn’t shoot worse than a 70 throughout the week to post 14 under par in total. The Mexico Open was last played here in 2014 and was won by Columbia’s Óscar David Álvarez who finished 17 under par in total.
The course is at high altitude which plays into the bigger hitters hands a bit. If you look at the top 10 on last year’s leaderboard names like Rory, DJ, Rahm, Pieters and Thomas all featured and ranked inside the top 20 for driving distance last year so that could be a bit of a clue. DJ, Fisher and Fleetwood all ranked inside the top 5 in GIR and five of the top six ranked inside the top 20 for scrambling.
Players that hit it long, putt well and avoid the deep greenside bunkers should score well. A good indicator could be looking at players who had a good week in Riviera a couple of weeks ago as this course has the same grass type.
The weather looks sunny and dry with moderate wind so scoring should be good.
The current number 2 in the Race to Dubai is trending in the right direction and judging by last week’s performance in Florida, looks to be hitting the ball nicely coming into this week.
He has been playing solid over the last couple of months showing form figures 4,37,6,1,3,6,21,10 in his last eight starts.
The Englishman had a great week at the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa in November finishing T10 (which is also a high-altitude course) and followed that with a T21 at the DP World in Dubai and a solo sixth in Hong Kong.
Fleetwood had a super start to 2018 and successfully defended in Abu Dhabi at the end of January where he didn’t shoot worse than a 68 all week to finish on 22 under in total. He then travelled to the Dubai Desert Classic where he shot rounds of 69,69,66,68 to finish T6 on -16 for the week.
Most recently on the PGA Tour, Tommy has kept up his good form finishing a respectable T37 in Riviera and a solo fourth last week at the Honda which included a 68,67,69 over the weekend. Fleetwood played well here in Mexico last year shooting four rounds of 70 or better to finish solo second and ranked fifth in GIR and seventh in par 5 scoring.
Statswise he is leading GIR on the European Tour this season and ranks sixth in DA, 37th in DD and third in stroke average. The Englishman looks to be in great shape coming into this week and has to be respected here.
I’ve decided to give the Swede another rattle this week based on last week’s impressive performance in Florida. He has been making a statement in the US over the last few weeks showing some impressive form and has the look of a man on the cusp of a win.
He came very close to getting into the playoff last week with Justin Thomas and Luke List and was a bit unlucky not birdie the last after his third shot pulled up short of the green. That being said he still finished with an impressive final round 67 to finish solo third.
Noren has been playing some great golf over the last year or so with form figures 3,16,21,2,12,31,45,12 in his last eight tournaments. His form has been particularly impressive over the last four weeks and despite losing a playoff, he had a great week in Torrey Pines shooting rounds of 70,66,,69,73 and followed that with a T21 in Phoenix. He then travelled to Riviera and shot four rounds of 71 or better to finish T16 on four under par for the week.
After shooting an opening round 76 here last year, the Swede was left with an uphill battle but bounced back very well with rounds of 71,72,69 which is a huge positive.
Statswise he is averaging just over 300 yards off the tee and ranks seventh in SGP, 37th in scrambling and fourth in par 5 scoring. Noren comes here in much better form this time around and could be a huge danger man here.
The big hitting Belgian is playing some decent golf lately and after a great performance here last year, Chapultepec looks like it could really suit his game.
Pieters has had a mixed bag of form over the last few months but there has been some decent stand out performances. He finished T11 at the Turkish Airlines Open at the end of November where he didn’t shoot worse than a 70 all week and followed that with a very strong performance in Abu Dhabi where he posted 17 under in total shooting three rounds of 67 or better to finish T5.
He started well in Riviera with three 71’s but had a poor final round 78 to finish T68, which was a bit unusual for a player of his calibre. However, he did rebound well with an impressive T13 last week in Florida where he ranked 11th in strokes gained putting which will give him great confidence on the greens coming into this week.
He had a great week here last year finishing T5 shooting three 68’s and a 69. Pieters is no stranger to stepping up to the plate in the big events finishing T14 at the WGC HSBC Champions last year, T4 at the Masters and solo fourth at the WGC Bridgestone. One to watch.
There’s some courses out there that seem to suit certain players and I think Chapultepec could be right up Tony’s street. He has been in great form this season with form figures 2,MC,6,32,16,11,26,2 with four top 11 finishes in eight starts.
He started the New Year with a respectable T32 in Hawaii at the Sony, which included three 67’s in a row and followed that with an impressive T6 in Torrey Pines, which included an opening round 65. Finau then missed the cut in Phoenix but he bounced back in style in Riviera shooting three rounds in the 60’s to finish T2 where he led the field in strokes gained tee to green.
The American made his WGC debut at the HSBC Champions in China back in October and played very well finishing T11 so that’s a huge positive here.
He is leading the PGA Tour in driving distance averaging an impressive 327 off the tee this season. He also ranks sixth in SGTTG, 16th in par 5 scoring and 20th in par 3 scoring. He looks great value here to have a good week on a course that should suit him.
Final Selections –
Tommy Fleetwood 1pt EW
Alex Noren 1pt EW
Thomas Pieters 1pt EW
Tony Finau 1pt EW
Total staked = 8pts
*Some bookies paying 6 places*
Good luck and enjoy the golf.
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