WGC-Mexico Championship: Wallace can get hot early
Dave Tindall looks at the opening round of the WGC-Mexico Championship at Chatapultec and has three picks to make a fast start...
"Matt Wallace has a habit of turning up at venues he's never seen before and hitting the ground running and he'll have absolutely no fear about doing it again despite the elite company."
Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places
Weather forecast for Riviera: After the problems at Pebble and disruptions of Riviera, it's nice to get something straightforward this week. The reliable Mexican weather shows sunny conditions all day mixed with the odd white cloud and wind speeds at a steady 6-8mph.
First-round leader history:
2018 - 64 Louis Oosthuizen, 65 Chris Paisley, Shubhankar Sharma, Xander Schauffele, 66 Rafa Cabrera Bello, Kiradech Aphibarnrat
2017 - 67 Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm, Lee Westwood, Ryan Moore, Jimmy Walker, Ross Fisher.
Strategy: With a small field, bunched tee-times and predictable, consistent weather, there isn't much planning involved this week. It's a free hit. However, what we do know is that there's scope to look further down the market given how well European Tour players have fared both on day one and in the tournament as a whole.
Wallace can burst from the blocks again
There's a very obvious first-round leader contender if we're taking the European angle.
Matt Wallace has a habit of turning up at venues he's never seen before and hitting the ground running and he'll have absolutely no fear about doing it again despite the elite company.
The Englishman was first-round leader in back-to-back weeks at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and British Masters and second after the opening lap at the Portugal Masters prior to that.
He was then fifth after day one at the Nedbank, DP World Tour Championship and South African Open.
A runner-up in Dubai, Wallace didn't get on with the conditions in Saudi Arabia (MC) but will be raring to go here after a few weeks off.
He's already run a poll on Twitter asking what to have first in Mexico. Well, how about a day-one lead washed down with Tequila, Matt?!
I'll take the 60s.
Westwood looks value for repeat performance
The above list of R1 leaders here shows that Lee Westwood was in a six-way tie for top spot two years ago after an opening 67.
He was also tied fifth with a round to go following a Saturday 66 so Westwood can certainly score on this track.
With a new caddie (his girlfriend) and extra spring in his step after ending a long victory drought with an excellent win in November's Nedbank Golf Challenge, Westwood has been making some fast starts.
A 66 on day one put him T6 in Abu Dhabi and he was also on the top 10 on the leaderboard following the opening lap in Dubai.
As he showed at the Nedbank (closing 64), Westwood is comfortable on kikuyu fairways when the ball sits up so I'm expecting another good week in similar conditions here.
Take Westwood at 60s.
Side with Sterne
I'll play the South African (kikuyu) and European Tour angle again with my final bet.
I wanted a player at three-figure odds and Richard Sterne looks the ideal candidate.
Sterne opened with a 65 to sit second after round one at the Abu Dhabi Championship where he went on to finish runner-up while a 66 on the first day of the Saudi International put him in the top eight at close of play.
The South African was the first-round leader at the Italian Open last year and this week's tree-lined track has been likened to venues in that neck of the woods.
It's Sterne's first appearance at the event but I like him to take to Chapultepec immediately.
Have some 100/1.
Dave's 2019 R1 leader P/L (based on £5 ew per selection)