WGC Mexico Championship: Hadwin looks value

Canada's Adam Hadwin
Adam Hadwin looks ready to make a big challenge
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It's the first world golf championship event of 2018 and Dave Tindall picks out three bets for the WGC-Mexico Championship at Chapultepec...

"In his very first WGC event, Hadwin finished T5 in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at tough Firestone Country Club in Ohio."

Main Bet: Back Adam Hadwin e.w. @ 80/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places

Main Bet: Back Adam Hadwin EW @ 80/1

The first question to ask when contemplating a bet on Adam Hadwin in an event like this is probably 'is he good enough?'

Yes, he's won a PGA Tour event but can the 30-year-old Canadian hold his own in this elite company? Quite simply, yes.

In his very first WGC event, Hadwin finished T5 in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at tough Firestone Country Club in Ohio.

A winner of the Valspar Championship last March, he also has two Web.Com Tour wins. One of those came in Chile so, in 'Through The Keyhole' style, is there a liking for events played outside of the United States?

This is his debut at Chapultepec but previously Hadwin had finished third in the Web.com's 2014 Mexico Championship while his last visit to the country ended with a top 10 at the PGA Tour's OHL Classic.

There's an obvious connection between this week's course and Riviera, host of the Genesis Open two weeks ago, as both tracks feature kikuyu fairways and poa annua greens. The link worked out beautifully last year when 2017 Riviera 1-2, Dustin Johnson and Thomas Pieters, went on to finish first and tied fourth here.

Hadwin was tied for sixth at Riviera on his last outing, that result coming just three starts on from a tied third place in the CareerBuilder Challenge so he's made an impressive start to 2018.

He made some interesting revelations at the latter event, looking back on 2017 and how he'd made the Tour Championship for the first time and played on the Presidents Cup.

"It was a big stepping stone in my career last year," said Hadwin. "You just kind of have to be in every shot every week and it's difficult to do. It was very hard to just kind of stay focused and get through and I don't think I did a very good job of that in the Fall (his results tailed off).

"But a couple months off now, kind of refreshed both mentally and physically, and just kind of get out there and have some fun again and enjoy it again. I think I just put too much pressure on myself there towards the end of the year last year, so just kind of go look at it as a fresh start again this year."

He certainly seems to be reaping the benefits of a break but he's also a fan of the early-season schedule.

"I love putting on the West Coast. I feel like chipping from around the greens seems a lot easier, just the way the grass is. I struggle with Bermuda still and so I kind of like to make hay on the West Coast when I can."

Hadwin was fifth for Greens In Regulation at Riviera and sixth for Putting Average while the stats also show him finishing 7th for GIR at the CareerBuilder.

Hitting greens in the right number seems important at this week's course given that the top three ranked fifth, fifth and second in that category 12 months ago so Hadwin is sharp in a key area that he needs to be.

Having broken into the world's top 50 (he's 49th), he won't be giving his place up without a fight and this is a great chance to improve further. On a course that should suit, take the 80/1 each-way.

Next Best: Back Tony Finau EW @ 40/1

Tony Finau is another first-timer who looks to have plenty of positives on his side.

The big-hitting American won his only PGA Tour event outside the US when capturing the Puerto Open and has some appealing 'previous' in Mexico.

He made the top 25 in the Mexico Championship on his first visit to the country and then shot bookend 65s to finish tied seventh on his debut at the OHL Classic.

Now, he gets to play a course where long drivers flourished last year and one which features his preferred poa/bent greens. It's also a layout where it's not just a question of thrashing driver on every hole and Finau should really enjoy the test.

He said at Riviera two weeks ago: "I feel like I'm definitely a shotmaker, very creative, very instinctive when I play and very visual. So this course allows you to do that. There's no one way you've got to hit it on this golf course, you can do it a lot of different ways."

I do like the Riviera connection this week so Finau's second place there on his last start looks a great pointer and, like Hadwin, perhaps it's no bad thing that he missed the potentially swing-messing windy conditions at the Honda Classic last week.

The main appeal has to be current form though as his runners-up finish in the Genesis Open represented a fifth top seven in his last 10 starts. There's also a T11 and a T16 in there.

A graph of Finau's world ranking position show a steady rising line and his current position of 32nd represents a peak. Some players blow hot and cold but his has been a gradual progression and that promotes the idea that he's due a big win somewhere soon.

He's shown plenty of promise in big events with a top 10 and two further top 20s in six starts in the majors and on his WGC debut in October (his world ranking meant he hadn't qualified for any previously), the 6ft 4in right-hander was T11 in the HSBC Champions in China.

"Overall on the week I gave myself a chance to win coming down the stretch, and you can't beat those kind of experiences," Finau said at Riviera.

"So hopefully I learn from it and just keep moving forward. I know the more chances I get, one of these times it will happen. I feel like if I keep doing what I'm doing and keep a positive attitude, things will fall my way."

I'm happy to believe that they'll fall his way in Mexico and the 40/1 looks a good each-way price.

Given the emphasis I'm putting on Riviera, Bubba Watson must surely come into the equation after his third win there a fortnight ago.

He's 35/1 but I'd rather back him at 28s in the Masters which he loves rather than this venue where I'm not sure if he does or doesn't after T38 last year.

Phil Mickelson was sixth at Riviera and tied 10th in this event last year so has claims at 22/1 while Alex Noren is playing some great golf and I couldn't put anyone off at 25/1.

At the very front of the market, Dustin Johnson could easily go in again while Justin Thomas has already shown in his brief career that he can win back-to-back and he made a big run here last year. However, at 11/2 and 15/2 respectively I'm willing to let them go.

Jon Rahm (11/1) led on the back nine last year so is easy to argue a case for although Jordan Spieth can't quite seem to marry up his ball striking and putting in the same week so I'll pass him at 12s.

Perhaps it's because he was 200/1 last year than I can't pull the trigger on Tommy Fleetwood at 16s although he clearly loves the place after finishing second and could easily have won in Florida last week.

Third Choice: Back Justin Rose EW @ 22/1

So, for my final pick, I'll go for the only other sub-25/1 player I've not discussed yet.

Justin Rose carried 'hottest player on the planet' status when winning the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open in successive weeks.

He followed that with fourth at the European Tour's season-ending showdown in Dubai, added T10 in Hong Kong and then ran away with the Asian Tour's Indonesian Masters to make it three wins in five starts and stretch his sequence of top 10s to nine on the spin.

Inevitably, the Festive break saw him lose some of that magic and he had to settle for T22 in Abu Dhabi when dusting off the clubs again.

Rose then headed to the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and finished T8 after entering the final day in the top five.

That light schedule shows some positive signs but also explains why he's just a little under the radar this week as he's not been on our TV screens too much.

With less than 40 days to the US Masters, Rose will want to start stepping things up and this could be the place to do it.

Those recent wins in China, Turkey and Indonesia show that he's a truly world golfer and, of course, he also won Olympic gold in Brazil.

Another reason for the higher-than-expected 22/1 is that the Englishman had to settle for T38 in this event last year. A couple of doubles in a final-round 71 kept him down the leaderboard

There's absolutely no reason why a big driver and superb ball-striker like Rose can't excel here and, indeed, he topped the Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee stats 12 months ago.

If he can find his touch on the greens, the World No. 5 can be a big player on Sunday afternoon.

A couple of other Europeans at chunky odds worth mentioning are Ross Fisher and Joost Luiten.

Fisher was third here 12 months ago after a Sunday 65 and has three second places in his last seven starts, the most recent in Abu Dhabi last month. He keeps shooting low scores and surely a win will come soon. Even if it's not here, he could still provide plenty of each-way reward at 60/1.

Luiten did bank a 'W' in Oman last time after marking our cards in Malaysia when tied 11th and topped the GIR stats in this tournament last year when making the top 25.

If he putts like he did in Oman, he could be a surprise package at 100/1.

Dave's 2017/18 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £460
Returned: £1060
P/L: +£600

(After Genesis Open)

2016/2017:
P/L: +£1179.89

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