EUROPEAN TOUR specialist (@Vince_RFC) shares his expert opinion on this week's WGC Mexico.
WGC Mexico Championship| 1st-4th March 2018 | Sky Sports
The first WGC event of the year is upon us and for the second time it’s being held at Chapultupec GC, just outside Mexico City. This event used to be played on one of Trumps courses in Florida until it was decided that it should be moved for political reasons. If there’s one positive to come from Donalds presidency it’s the fact we get to see the worlds best players slugging it out on a fantastic course.
There’s a small field of 65 lining up made up of the top 50 players in the world plus the top players from each Tour around the worlds order of merit or equivalent. It’s fairly simple stuff that I won’t go into in detail. There are a few big names taking a pass though which is unfortunate. Jason Day, Mcilroy, Matsuyama and Stenson aren’t there whilst Brooks Koepka is injured.
Out of nowhere this was possibly my favourite tournament of the whole of last year. Chapultupec turned out to be brilliant and the golf that went along with it was superb as well. The fact I had 150/1 and 66/1 places probably helped too. That 150/1 was on Tommy Fleetwood, (200s were available earlier in the week), a price we’ll never see again. He’s all the way into 18/1 this time round.
It’s at an altitude of 7,800 feet and the ball flies an extra 15% or thereabouts so instantly you think big hitters are at an advantage. Looking at the leaderboard from last year backs that theory up, but there’s more to the course than just that. It’s a tight, technical and tree lined course too where the driver isn’t really used and second shot is the important one. Bit of a head scratcher to be honest.
Fairly early on last year I thought it seemed a course that might suit the Europeans and come Sunday that seemed to be the case as six of the top ten were Europeans. Being the only tournament we’ve had on the course could mean that’s just coincidence but something I’ll be keeping an eye on.
Another possible coincidence is the correlation with the Genesis Open two weeks previously. Dustin Johnson won both that one and this in 2017 whilst Thomas Pieters was runner up at the Genesis and T5th here. Again, it might just be a case that they were both on form over that period but both have the same fairly rare grass combinations. Kikuyu fairways and Poa Annua/Bentgrass greens for those wondering. Certainly another factor I’ll be keeping in mind.
Comparisons with Augusta and The Masters are easy to make and I’m being drawn to the same names this weeks as I have in mind already for the big one in just over a months time. It’s a bit of a conundrum I’ve found myself in as I can’t be sure if I’m drawn to them because they’re on my mind for the Masters or if they’re a good fit this week. I’ll do my best to go with the latter.
Tommy Fleetwood (18/1 Bet365)
Onto the picks and I’ve mentioned Tommy Fleetwood above and I’ll be honest I can’t decide if he’s a good option here at 18/1. I think I’ve talked myself into it though. If you want someone that can find the greens there aren’t many better than Tommy. He led the European Tour in GIR last year, 6th in Driving Accuracy and 38th in Driving Distance. There’s no wonder he won the Race to Dubai.
Last week at the Honda Classic he was a very respectable 4th and it’s only a matter of time before he picks up a PGA win. He pushed Dustin Johnson all the way here last year before having to settle for second and I see no reason why he can’t go one better.
Dylan Frittelli (70/1 Paddy Power)
Dylan Frittelli has quietly had a good start to 2018 having opened up with T20-T19-T6-T5 in consecutive weeks on the European Tour. He then took a few weeks off before making his PGA debut last week at the Honda Classic where he picked up an impressive 11th place. Of all the young South Africans coming through Dylan could well be the one to go the furthest.
A two time winner on the European Tour already it looks like he’s aiming for a full time spot stateside. The course this week should suit him, being South African he’ll have grown up on this grass combination which will negate some of the disadvantage of not playing the course before. He’s a big hitter with some good GIR stats and I like his chances of being at least competitive this week so 70/1 looks a nice price.
Adam Hadwin (80/1 Betfred)
Adam Hadwin isn’t the biggest of hitters but has accuracy off the tea and touch around the green to make up for that. The Canadian comes in with form of T6-T43-T35-T3 in his last four starts and I someone I think will really push on this year. That T6 came at the Genesis Open two weeks ago which as I’ve already mentioned is a good pointer due to the Kikuyu fairways. Having skipped the Honda last week he should take no time to readjust to it again which is a bonus.
Hadwin defends his only PGA win next week at the Valspar and he’s come on leaps and bounds since then. He’s got form in high class WGC fields too having finished T5th at the WGC Bridgestone back in August. He’s been priced up at 80/1 and I think that’s a very good price and bigger than I expected.
Dean Burmester (275/1 Bet365)
Lastly, another big hitting South African who could be suited to Chapultupec is Dean Burmester who’s a massive 275/1. Admittedly this is a huge step up in quality for him but I think he’s worth chancing. Worth noting that he’s missing out on defending his only European Tour win at the Tshwane Open back in his homeland week where his record is 1-T4-T3. Worth noting that that’s an event played at altitude with tree lined fairways and on the same grass as here in Mexico. It may just suit him and at the price I can’t resist.
WGC Mexico – Tommy Fleetwood (18/1 each-way Bet365)
WGC Mexico – Dylan Frittelli (70/1 each-way Paddy Power)
WGC Mexico – Adam Hadwin (80/1 each-way Betfred)
WGC Mexico – Dean Burmester (275/1 each-way Bet365)
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