A brand new course welcomes 49 of the world’s best 50 golfers this week outside Mexico City.
Goodbye Miami and Trump National Doral and welcome Mexico and Club de Golf Chapultepec!
Better learn Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V with a course name like that!
World Golf Championships
Club de Golf Chapultepec
Mexico City, Mexico
Yards: 7,330 per the official scorecard
Par: 71 (35-36)
Greens: Bentgrass and Poa annua
Rough: Kikuyugrass at two inches
Course Architect(s): Willie Smith (1921); Percy Clifford (1972)
Purse: $9.75 million; $1.660 million (winner); 550 FedExCup Points
Defending Champion: Adam Scott won this event at Trump National Doral last year. This is the first of seven WGC-MC at this track so we’ll start anew.
- 77 players; 72-hole Stroke play; no cut.
- Of the top 50 players in the OWGR, 49 are entered this week.
- Jason Day (flu, earaches) WD on the weekend and will not be replaced.
Frys.com: Brendan Steele
CIMB: Justin Thomas
WGC-HSBC: Hideki Matsuyama
Sanderson Farms: Cody Gribble**
Shriners: Rod Pampling
OHL Mayakoba: Pat Perez
RSM Classic: Mackenzie Hughes**
SBS TOC: Justin Thomas
Sony Open: Justin Thomas
CB Challenge: Hudson Swafford*
Farmers: Jon Rahm*
WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama
AT&T Pebble Beach: Jordan Spieth
Genesis Open: Dustin Johnson
Honda Classic: Rickie Fowler
**First-time winner AND rookie winner
Sitting at over 7,500 feet above sea level Club de Golf Chapultepec will serve as host of this event for this year through 2023.
At only 7,330 yards on the card, the best players in the world should overpower this track.
At altitude, the golf ball should travel 10% further than it did at sea level at Mayakoba last fall. So knock 10% off 7,330 yards and that leaves a course ripe for the picking.
With three par fives and the rough only hanging on around two inches I would expect scoring chances to be plentiful. When they played the 2014 Mexican Open on this track the winning score was 17-under.
As is the case with “new” courses, I’ll lean on the ball-strikers who’ll find the most greens and essentially more scoring opportunities. I’ve seen reports it’s fast and firm and that doesn’t hurt my argument.
The premium putters will still make their share but their advantage will be muted because of the newness. Keeping the greens at 11.5′ won’t help the great putters either as that speed is essentially “normal” on Tour.
Looking back on the winners of WGC events I’m not going to find many guys who have “faked it” or “upset” the field. When Russell Knox and Shane Lowry are the “worst” guys to win one of these events the mystery shifts to which premium player is going to take home the trophy.
Multiple WGC Event Winners Playing This Week
- Dustin Johnson has won three WGC events since 2013. He’s only missing Match Play for the WGC Grand Slam.
- Jason Day and Rory McIlroy have two wins each since 2014.
- Adam Scott checks in with two wins as well (2011, 2016).
- Phil Mickelson won both of his events in 2009.
Facts and Figures:
- Russell Knox (2015 HSBC Champions) is the only person to win a WGC stroke play event on his first try.
- Shane Lowry (2015 Bridgestone Invitational) and Knox are the only two players to win at WGC event as their first Tour victory. #Rare.
Course Ratings since 2010
This section returns next week at Innisbrook (hint: HARD) and next year after we get one of these under our belt!
In order of preference for this week and this tournament
Dustin Johnson: It’s fitting that the No. 1 player in the world leads the line this week after his walk-in-the-park win at Riviera. He leads the Tour in SG: Off the Tee and SGTTG plus he should be able to overpower this joint just like he did Riviera his last time out. His three WGC victories are the most of any player in the field this week.
Justin Rose: He’s taken the show on the road before to win on tracks rarely used or new to Tour. Wins at Merion, Aronimink and the Rio Olympics confirm that he is a very quick study. In four starts this year he’s found the top four three times so his current form is hardly in question. Similarly to DJ, Rose sits in the top five SGTTG and SGOTT and also had a nice run out at Riviera last time out (T-4).
Henrik Stenson: His streak of top 10 finishes worldwide is now six in a row after finishing second at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Stenson pounds it from tee-to-green (2nd on European Tour GIR) as well and won’t have problem picking this place apart. Remember he battled Rose down the stretch in Rio so adapting to new tracks shouldn’t bother him either. He’s finished T-11 or better in five of his last six WGC events. #Proper.
Adam Scott: Scott has played Riviera and Honda in back-to-back weeks to kick off his new season. His worse score from those eight rounds (T-11, T-14) was 71 so there wasn’t much rust to deal with in the first place. His putter has been warming as well and that’s bad news if his normal ball-striking is around.
Rickie Fowler: He’s a big fan of the WGC events as 10 of his last 11 have resulted in T-17 or better with a whopping seven top 10’s. He leads the Tour in SG: Total and in scoring average. In his last six events worldwide he’s finished inside the top six in five of them including his win last week with his new, shorter driver. Boxes checked. Get in.
Jordan Spieth: He’s placed 18 of 20 rounds in 2017 at 70 or lower and has shot 72 twice. Spieth’s 12 career worldwide wins have come on a variety of tracks including courses like Colonial and Innisbrook where working the golf ball is necessary. He currently leads the Tour in SG: Approach the Green and GIR and is second in scoring. He has three top 10’s in his last five WGC events and nothing outside T-17. His “boring” victory at Pebble Beach was the fruit of the labor.
Gary Woodland: I said last week that I ranked him too low and that he probably needed to be moved up. I hope you did as he hit the podium for the second time this season (T-2) and the top 10 for the fourth time in six events. Woodland also has a win and a runner up in the mountains of Tahoe which should get everyone excited even more.
Rory McIlroy: He’s been busy rehabbing his rib injury by playing golf with the President of the United States and the folks in the Seminole Member-Pro. His talent is unequivocally undeniable but it will be the rust that worries me this week. After winning the DBC and Tour Championship, his next three events we’re all top 10’s before his injury.
Sergio Garcia: He’s been around forever but he’s still to claim a WGC as his own. I’ll always lean on him when putting isn’t a must-have requirement and this week qualifies. He has the ability with his iron game to get dialed in and three par fives won’t hurt either. He’ll have no problem adjusting to the altitude as he has a home in Crans Montana in the Swiss Alps.
Hideki Matsuyama: The only player in the field this week that can win back-to-back WGC events as he collected the first of the season in Shanghai (HSBC Champions). His two worst finishes in the last six months have been in two of his last three events (T-33, MC). Interestingly enough, they were both on the West Coast on Bent/Poa at Torrey Pines and Riviera. Interestingly enough, his win at Shanghai is his only top 10 in 14 WGC events.
Jon Rahm: His last three events have seen him win for the first time on Tour, T-16 and T-5 so it’s crystal clear that he has no problem where he’s going. Most guys will regress after their first win and soak in the accolades that go with it. Rahm seems to expect it and looks like he’s wanting more. The way he hits it, I’m on board.
Tyrell Hatton: After two weeks in the Middle East (T-13, T-3) he took full advantage of his sponsor’s invite at the Honda. His T-4 playing out of the final group gave him a front row seat to see what it takes to win on Tour. I also noticed he put up the fight all day and after his start to the final round, it would have been easier to pack it in. I’m playing guys in form as nobody will have any course history to lean on this week and he easily qualifies.
Brendan Steele: His record at Montreux is fantastic and his recent form is even better. He keeps plugging along after his season-opening win at Silverado as he’s posted four top 16 finishes and zero MC in eight events.
Alex Noren: He’ll defend in the Swiss Alps later this year as he won the Omega European Masters for the second time last September. He surrounded that with three others wins as he plowed over 2016. He might get lost in this field with newer gamers as he enters the week T-13, T-21 and MC in 2017. Not me.
Louis Oosthuizen: Phoenix (solo third) to Perth (solo fifth) to Honda (T-21) in a four week swing is impressive. Almost as impressive as his swing! His form matches his frequent flyer miles and I don’t think there is anything wrong with steady on a new venue. His last 12 rounds have seen 11 at par or better and the worst of the lot is 73. He’s on form.
Form plays, eye-catchers who make great support staff, not in order
Francesco Molinari: His solid bounce-back performance at Honda showed me that the MC at Riviera was the exception, not the rule. Everything has been T-14 or better stretching back to his win at the Italian Open.
Justin Thomas: All of his wins have been 20-under or LOWER so if that’s the requirement this week, I can see him breaking out of his funk.
Brandt Snedeker: The Bent/Poa master of pop has bookend MC’s with a pair of top 10’s sandwiched in between in his last four. Tight courses usually get his attention so I might move him up.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello: He’s currently fifth in GIR on the European Tour. This is a recording as he hasn’t MC in almost 30 events running (2016 PLAYERS).
Martin Kaymer: He showed out at Honda for his first top 10 in four tries. With nothing better than T-20 in his last five trips to Doral, the change of venue should have him fired up.
Matt Kuchar: He had plenty of success at the WGC-Match Play in the high desert in Arizona as he won the 2013 edition and was third in the 2011 bracket.
Bernd Wiesberger: His worst finish to close 2016 was T-35 in Shanghai, his only finish in six events outside of the top 10. In 2017 he’s hit the top 10 twice in four starts without MC. The Austrian native won’t mind a bit of elevation I wouldn’t think.
J.B. Holmes: He’ll have no problem with the par fives with his length and his past successes at Riviera, Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach suggest he can handle the surface.
Bill Haas: T-20 or better in his last six Tour starts makes him fantastic support staff this week. His best WGC finish was last fall in Shanghai with T-4.
Russell Knox: After pressing at Honda he’ll be happy to slide back into the crowd and swing away. I usually don’t endorse anybody after back-to-back MCs but he hits way too many fairways and greens to leave out.
Paul Casey: The Englishman is trending in the proper direction as four rounds of par or better at Honda is his best yet (T-11) of 2017. Oh, and he didn’t make ANYTHING on the greens last week either.
Matthew Fitzpatrick: Mountain man on the European Tour with back-to-back top 10’s at Crans Montana should get him some eyeballs this week. Don’t look at his scorecard from last week if you’re sticking him in this week. #Wet.
Jhonattan Vegas: T-34, T-28, T-15 and T-4 in his last four on Tour. #Trending.
Danny Willett: Another Euro mountain man who won at Crans Montana in 2016 and was second in 2012. His uneven form in 2017 is only highlighed by T-5 in Malaysia in a soft field. I’m embracing the no-cut angle and the yodeling this week.
Thomas Pieters: Go on young fella, have a swing. He handled the Kikuyugrass and nuance of Riviera two weeks ago with T-2 but MC last week at Honda. Somewhere in the middle is the answer and should find the top 20.
Charl Schwartzel: After 16 consecutive cuts made worldwide to end 2016 he’s MC in his first two events in the new calendar year. I like the angle that he’ll be up for it this week because he’s defending next week at Innisbrook.
Kevin Na: He’s quietly picked up T-16 and T-4 in his last two starts so taking a peek at a guy who’s moving in the right direction is hardly the worst idea this week.
Off the Beaten Path
Course horses, long shots, cheeky picks, DFS last call, red herrings
Sean O’Hair: He’s posted T-11 or better in four of his last six Tour events without MC.
Ben An: He’s shown flashes recently and he makes his money from tee-to-green.
Scott Hend: Bombs away, g’day! The Aussie’s length, if he keeps it out of the trees, could be an asset to sneak in the back door and steal a top 15 this week.
Jeunghun Wang: He’s won and finished 11th and followed that with MC-MC. That’s my kind of flier!
Hideto Tanihara: T-27 or better in four events scattered around the world in 2017.
William McGirt: Somebody tell him it’s the RBC Canadian Open so he wakes up!
David Lipsky: He’s won in the Swiss mountains (2014) and is on a run of 10 weekends in a row worldwide. He finished second at Maybank last time out behind Fabrizio Zanotti.
Injured, rusty or not the track this week
Bubba Watson: His 2017 has been less than inspiring to say the least. His struggles at TPC Scottsdale and Riviera are strange as he’s raked on both of those tracks over the years. Is it his new golf ball? Is it his busy business calendar? If Watson needs perfect conditions to execute, I’m not going to throw him out in altitude where the ball doesn’t curve as much.
Brooks Koepka: He didn’t fire at TPC Scottsdale where he’s won. He didn’t fire at his hometown event last week (MC). His only finish from three starts in 2017 is T-42. Congrats on yer win dude!
Andy Sullivan: In four starts in 2017 he’s MC twice and has nothing inside the top 25. Maybe a brand-new venue is exactly what he needs!
Thorbjorn Olesen: Nothing better than T-29 in four starts in the new calendar year doesn’t suggests his best is going to suddenly appear this week.
Phil Mickelson: He’s run out of gas too many times recently for my liking. The optimist can tell me how he’s getting stronger.
Coming Later This Week:
Wednesday I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled at mikeglasscott.com and @MikeGlasscott for more information.
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