US TOUR specialist Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) is back with more golf thoughts following his winning start to 2017. Here, he looks at the WGC Mexico Championship.
WGC Mexico Championship | 2nd-5th March 2017 | Sky Sports
Dustin Johnson lived up to the hype and gave us an easy 15/2 winner at the Genesis Open. More of the same, at much bigger odds, would do very nicely this time.
The decision to move the former WGC Cadillac Championship to Mexico has proved somewhat controversial and provides an interesting backdrop as the worlds very best golfers fight it out for one of the sports premiere titles.
This tournament has been held at Doral for some years now and the move south of the border was welcome for two reasons. A course revamp had left Doral little but a bombers paradise where only the most powerful hitters could hope to win.
But importantly, to those of us who consider ourselves to have an ounce of humanity, it was now Trump Doral. Anything associated with the leader of the free world, including Rory Mcilroy, is tainted.
I think I will leave the politics there but safe to say, the PGA could not have done anything better than move from a Trump course to one in Mexico. The irony was not lost even on The Donald.
Back to golf and Club de Golf Chapultepec hosts a PGA Tour event for the first time, so forgive me for the lack of relevant statistics. We are mostly going with gut feeling this week.
Apart from learning that a guy by the name of Oscar Alvarez won the Mexico Open here in 2014 with a score of -17, there is little to pass on.
What is relevant is the course itself and it looks like a beauty. Classical, tree lined and long at 7,330 yards, you might want to think Augusta – on the moon.
This week, the Tour rocks up at a course some 7,600 feet above sea level – that will sort the men from the boys.
Long, difficult and at altitude – some really good players are going to struggle this week. The general feeling amongst most golf writers is that the ball will fly 10-15% longer than usual and that ‘should’ take away the advantage players like DJ have when hitting it miles off the tee.
I think it’s relevant that, like at Riviera a fortnight ago, we are back on Kikuygrass. It really does favour Australians and South Africans in particular but there is also a very European feel to this place and my picks this week reflect that.
The feedback I had after Johnson’s win was that 15/2 picks – winner or not – weren’t really doing it for you. Unless I am 8/10 confident – as I was with DJ at Riviera – I am going to leave those kind of selections alone from this point.
Of the favourited this week, I do like Johnson once again and also Jordan Spieth who is capable of really thriving in these conditions. Jason Day is the only top player not to appear and Rory is only just back after missing six weeks with a rib injury. Hideki Matsuyama did not play well at Riviera and is perhaps best watched this week.
Louis Oosthuizen (50/1 Boylesports)
Louis Oosthuizen headlines this week as the South African is in great form right now. His five starts this year have already produced three top-10 finishes and he came from a mile back at the Honda with final rounds of 68 and 69.
Of course Louis was runner-up at Augusta not so long ago and being South African is well used to not only Kikuyu but also playing at altitude. His third-place finish to Matsuyama in Phoenix last month as well as fifth at Riviera were both noted for his ball striking.
Long straight driving should serve him well here and 50/1 is a very solid each-way selection with the six places offered by Boylesports.
Gary Woodland (40/1 Paddy Power)
Gary Woodland has been on my radar all week. It’s a shame I could not get this written whilst 50/1 was still available but he’s a man in such good form that he still represents value at 40/1.
Woodland is on fire this season. Recent form reads second – sixth – 20th – MC – fifth – and second last week to Rickie Fowler at the Honda Classic.
Woodland has all kinds of form on tight courses. His two PGA wins coming at Copperhead and Reno (3,000 feet above sea level). Reno also has the Poa/Bent greens that he will find here.
A long straight hitter in good form is a fairly sensible play this week with the six each-way places offered at Paddy Power.
Sergio Garcia (28/1 Boylesports)
Not sure how this has happened but Sergio Garcia appears here for the second time. I am ridiculously happy about picking him this week – as strange as that sounds, he did nothing for us last time but this place could really suit the Spaniard.
If there is a course in Europe that screams tight, classical, tree-lined then it’s Garcia’s home track at Valderama and what a record Sergio has there – 12 top-10s in 13 starts.
Fourteenth at PGA National last week and coming off a win in Dubai a few weeks ago, the man is in good form and the quality of his ball striking should see him get plenty of chances. Don’t be at all surprised to see Sergio contending on Sunday night.
Thomas Pieters (70/1 SkyBet)
John Rahm is so tempting to include as a final selection. There are one or two young players coming to the fore tight now and Rahm is without doubt a future superstar. I advised taking 70/1 about him for Augusta and I like his chances here but in a field of this quality, 28/1 does not represent much value.
Rahm follows up his win at Torrey Pines and if he repeats the feat here his price at Augusta will look very tasty.
Instead, I am going with Thomas Pieters. The star of the Ryder Cup for Europe and as his runner-up finish to DJ at Riviera showed, a player who is very much coming of age.
The track here should suit him and the 70/1 available with Skybet kind of shouts ‘back me’.
Pieters is clearly a young guy who thrives under pressure and two European Tour wins already, as well as his heroics for Europe, show great confidence and maturity. A player to have on your side in 2017.
WGC Mexico Championship – Louis Oosthuizen (50/1 each-way Boylesports)
WGC Mexico Championship – Gary Woodland (40/1 each-way Paddy Power)
WGC Mexico Championship – Sergio Garcia (28/1 each-way Boylesports)
WGC Mexico Championship – Thomas Pieters (70/1 each-way SkyBet)