WGC-Mexico Championship 2019: A trio of bets to make the Top Ten
Dave Tindall arms you with the stats that matter for a punt on the Top 5 and Top 10 Finish markets ahead of the 2019 WGC-Mexico Championship...
"Rahm loves the adulation of the Mexican crowds and speaking in his native tongue and it's helped him to a third on debut and T20 last year. He returns on a current streak of six straight top 10s."
Justin Thomas - JT has converging trends
"It's a cool little golf course. It's all right in front of you, there's nothing tricky to it. You can play the course a lot of different ways, I feel like. Off the tee you can be aggressive and take some of the doglegs or kind of hit it to where most of the people hit it and then go from there." He's certainly enjoyed playing it, with finishes of fifth and second and last year JT shot 62-64 on the weekend. Probably should have won at Riviera last week but he now has three top threes in his last four starts so is a very legitimate top five play this week.
Last four events: 2-3-16-3
WGC-Mexico form: 2-5
Last 50 starts - Win: 10%, Top 5: 28%, Top 10: 46%
Dustin Johnson - DJ a top 10 machine
"It's a golf course I like, I'm very comfortable on. I feel like I've got a really good game plan for this place, so I just go out and stick to my game plan and play golf." DJ won the inaugural edition at Chapultepec in 2017 and shot four rounds in the 60s last year when T7.
European Tour fans saw him win in Saudi Arabia earlier this month although finishes of T45 at Pebble and T9 at Riviera were below expectations given his superb record in both events. DJ finishes in the top 10 in over 50% of his starts so the odds-against price of (around 5/4) for another is decent, especially given his course record.
Last four events: 9-45-1-16
WGC-Mexico form: 7-1
Last 50 starts - Win: 18%, Top 5: 36%, Top 10: 54%
Rory McIlroy - killer instinct lacking but top fives keep on coming
"It's a different golf course than what we normally play week in and week out. It's very strategic, you've got to think about where you're positioning your ball off the tee. The greens are very small, quite undulating. It's a really old-school sort of test." McIlroy has played here just once and took T7 although might have expected better after opening 68-65. That's a current theme too. He shot respective second rounds of 65 and 63 at Torrey Pines and Riviera but couldn't hit the accelerator on the weekend. Still, for these markets, Rory has been delivering.
Last four events: 4-5-4-20
WGC-Mexico form: 7
Last 50 starts - Win: 6%, Top 5: 34%, Top 10: 46%
Jon Rahm - Spaniard feels at home
"The more I play this golf course, the more I like it. I find it a very fun golf course. It's traditional golf, right? It's an old golf course, much like Colonial and other golf courses that are close to a hundred years old. They're very similar to the style of golf we play in Spain. I love that. I love having tree lined, I love being able to take it over corners, take some risks. I love this kind of golf course. It's pretty similar to what I grew up on." He also loves the adulation of the Mexican crowds and speaking in his native tongue and it's helped Rahm to a third on debut and T20 last year. He returns on a current streak of six straight top 10s.
Last four events: 9-10-5-6
WGC-Mexico form: 20-3
Last 50 starts - Win: 8%, Top 5: 36%, Top 10: 50%
Bryson DeChambeau - altitude adjustment will keep the Scientist busy
The current World No.5 has won five times around the world in the last 10 months, the latest victory coming in the Dubai Desert Classic. He's backed that up with a top six in Saudi and T15 at last week's Genesis Open. The 'Scientist', who is making his debut at Chapultepec, will have plenty of calculations to perform this week given that the course is at altitude and he'll have to make an adjustment for club selection. The ball flies around 15% further although DeChambeau will no doubt break that down further and get exact yardages for each club. He's paired with Tiger for the first two rounds and the two are frequent practice partners so that could spur both on.
Last four events: 15-6-1-10
WGC-Mexico form: -
Last 50 starts - Win: 12%, Top 5: 20%, Top 10: 30%
Rickie Fowler - clubbing down no problem for Rickie
"There's only going to be a few drivers. For the most part I'm going to play fairly conservative off the tees. It is a different style of golf. It's similar to Honda in a way, it's still kind of placing your ball, and placing it around this golf course is not exactly bomb and gouge." Fowler's got a decent record in such circumstances although it hasn't quite worked out for him here. The Californian took T37 on debut in 2017 and T37 last year after a poor 75 in round four.
A runner-up in the OHL Classic in Mexico at the back end of 2017, Fowler arrives here full of beans after an excellent victory in the Waste Management Phoenix Open on his last start.
Last four events: 1-66-16-4
WGC-Mexico form: 37-16
Last 50 starts - Win: 4%, Top 5: 26%, Top 10: 40%
Tiger Woods - Mexican sunshine could fuel further momentum
Tiger is being billed as a seven-time winner of this event although there's some obvious qualifications needed for that statement. Those victories came in previous guises when the tournament was played as the WGC-American Express Championship and the WGC-CA Championship. It means Woods hasn't played Chapultepec but it's a course that should play into his hands.
Being able to club down and rely on short game and veteran smarts suits him much more these days and his build towards Augusta is coming along nicely with T20 at Torrey Pines and T15 at Riviera. The delays and cold weather were against him last week so the sunshine of Mexico could have a galvanising effect and see Tiger continue his forward progress.
Last four events: 15-20-1-6
WGC-Mexico form: -
Last 50 starts - Win: 4%, Top 5: 16%, Top 10: 24%
We may just think of Koepka as a grip-it-and-rip-it merchant given his obvious power but he said this at Carnoustie last year: "I enjoy plotting my way around probably more than the bombers' golf courses where you've got to think, be very cautious sometimes, laid back, and firing at the centre of the greens. You've got to be very disciplined, and that's the kind of golf I enjoy." That said, he finished down in T48 last year although a 76 put him on the back foot and middle rounds of 69-68 showed promise. The three-time major champ was T9 in Abu Dhabi but down in T57 at the Saudi International but we all know how good he is at getting himself up for the big events.
Last four events: 57-9-24-12
WGC-Mexico form: 48
Last 50 starts - Win: 12%, Top 5: 22%, Top 10: 36%
Xander Schauffele - American loves the big time
"I feel like it's on the safer side, a lot of 4-irons off tees. I see a lot of guys hitting drivers everywhere, but we've sort of stuck to hitting some irons here and there. A few drivers, but overall I would say on the safer side." That's how Schauffele played the course last year and it worked a treat for the first 36 holes as he sat second at halfway but a closing 74 saw him drop from T6 to T18 on Sunday. The American is already a WGC winner having landed October's HSBC Champions in China and he won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in a limited field at the start of January. T10 in Phoenix two starts ago, he played a strong final 54 for holes for T15 at Riviera. Some big finishes in the majors add to the feeling that he relishes these elite events.
Last four events: 15-10-25-1
WGC-Mexico form: 18
Last 50 starts - Win: 8%, Top 5: 20%, Top 10: 28%
Phil Mickelson - Lefty in good form ahead of defence
"Even though the golf course doesn't play long because of the altitude, it is challenging in many other respects with the precision of the irons, the small targets that the greens present and the speed and undulation of the greens. You really aren't able to overpower the course." Mickelson loves to boom it off the tee but showed off his other vast array of skills to take the title last year and end a win drought that extended way back to the 2013 Open. Also T7 here in 2017, the left-hander added another win at Pebble Beach a couple of weeks ago so he deserves lots of respect at the moment, especially on courses where he's won before. At 3/1 for a top 10, the market seems to be undervaluing him here.
Last four events: 37-1-MC-2
WGC-Mexico form: 1-7
Last 50 starts - Win: 4%, Top 5: 16%, Top 10: 24%
Conclusion: Rory, Rose and Koepka have big appeal
There are plenty of 'Back' possibilities in the field this week but the bet I like best is Jon Rahm to finish in the Top 10 at [2.62].
He's already shown a strong liking for the course with third on debut and he's churning out the top 10s on a regular basis at the moment.
I think top 10 for Dustin Johnson is also a very reasonable ask.
Beyond the obvious, it's interesting to note that DJ sits first in Futureoffantasy.com's rankings for Less-than-Driver Course Performance. That comes as a slight surprise but he has a proven record on shorter courses (think Pebble for example) where it's not just brawn.
With a win and a tied seventh here, he's put the theory into practice.
Another DJ top 10 is [2.3].
I'm close to putting Tiger in but his putting was off the mark last week so I'll add in Phil Mickelson for a top 10 at a generous . Like DJ, he boasts a win and a T7 at the course while he had an excellent West Coast Swing with another triumph at Pebble, his fifth, and a close-up second at the Desert Classic.
Dave's 2019 Top 5/10 P/L (based on £10 per selection)
Back Jon Rahm for Top 10 @ [2.62]
Back Dustin Johnson for Top 10 @ [2.3]
Back Phil Mickelson for Top 10 @