The Tour heads to Mexico this week for the first time as the former WGC Cadillac Championships have been moved and renamed as the WGC Mexico Championship. Formally held at Doral in Miami, this year’s venue is the Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City, a longer par 71 course that plays over 7300 yards and is also located at around 8000 feet of altitude—meaning the ball is going to fly far this week, and much further than normal. The thin air and a new course is definitely going to add some intrigue as no player will have a distinct experience advantage over the field and the altitude may throw some off their game a bit as well.
The field this week is elite, as most of the top 50 players in the world are here, with the only big no show being Jason Day who is apparently dealing with flu symptoms/issues. This also marks the return of Rory McIlroy who has been out since January with a rib fracture and is eligible on DraftKings as a pick for the first time since January.
New Venue: The change in venue is big for numerous reasons but for fantasy it really means it cuts out a huge piece of data we rely on each week (course history) when making our DraftKings picks. Given this, and the fact we have no past data for important player stats, we are flying blind in a sense here and we’ll have to rely more on weeding out good plays and values through other avenues. Outside of recent form course fit may be something to consider as the venue appears to be tightly tree-lined and should play relatively short given the altitude. Players with Good Driving stats, who can keep it in the tighter fairways and give themselves easy approaches into the greens, should be favored. Looking at players who have success at similarly styled courses this week isn’t a bad idea either.
Current Form: This event has often been an early season test to weed out the strong from the week in some sense and the fact each of the past six winners have all had a top five or better finish before their win here (in the same season) shows us that this usually isn’t an event where we want to get off a hot player—see Adam Scott last season. Most of the winners and contenders here over the past couple of years have been players who had already won or come close to winning on the tour already on the season. While the venue change is definitely a new wrinkle I won’t be surprised if this fact holds true this week either. Emphasizing players with some good results through the West Coast and first leg of the Florida swing isn’t a bad idea this week at all.
Jordan Spieth ($11,500): Spieth gets the nod over Dustin Johnson this week for me. Both have won on Poa grass this year but Spieth seems the better fit for a new course with apparently very tricky greens and a layout where power off the tee might not matter much. For all Spieth has done he’s actually never won a WGC event so the motivation to get that in his trophy case is there as well, as is the desire to catch DJ in the OWGR. He’s also 1k cheaper.
Henrik Stenson ($10,300): He’s been a bit under the radar this year, but has earned two second place finishes and an eighth since last December. Accuracy off the tee might be essential this week which means Stenson’s three-wood, which will probably fly about 340 in this thin air, is going to be a powerful weapon this week. He’s had three runner-up finishes since his Open win and probably feels due to backup his major with another victory, could easily be his week on a track that should suit him.
Justin Rose ($9,600): Hard to argue with his early season form or the fact he dealt with another strange venue last season very well down in Brazil at an event called the Olympics. Rose has three top 5’s on the year already and traditionally putts well on Poa greens. If you’re going more balanced this week he’s a great person to start your lineups with. Also way overdue for a PGA win as he hasn’t taken home a trophy since the 2015 Zurich Classic.
Gary Woodland ($8,400): I am always hesitant to recommend Woodland when his price is up near the elites of the golfing world but the truth is he deserves his price tag this week. Woodland is 41 under par through five starts in 2016 and also has four finishes of T6 or better in his last six starts overall. He’s known as a bomber but has wins at shorter tree-lined tracks with the most similar one to this week likely being his win at the Valspar (Copperhead) back in 2011. Has had success in past WGC events as well as he was runner-up to Rory McIlory in the match-play event in 2015.
Other: Paul Casey (first in strokes gained: tee to green last week)
Martin Kaymer ($7,500): Kaymer was great last week and now his price has come down past some people he was priced in front of last week in a weaker field. He hasn’t missed a cut in over a year which may not matter much since there’s no cut this week, but it speaks to his consistency which is unmatched at the moment. Hard to see him not winning at some point soon and could easily catch everyone off-guard here. I see only upside with Kaymer who was one of only a few players who managed to shoot par or better in all four rounds last week.
Louis Oosthuizen ($7,200): Maybe the strangest price of anyone, Oosthuizen put together his third straight solid start last week and also had four rounds of par or better at the Honda—and also lead the field in Greens in Regulation percentage. Oosthuizen has been uber-solid off the tee in his last two starts ranking 8th and 11th for Driving accuracy respectively. One final link for Oosthy this week is the fact this course uses Kikuyu rough, grass often found in his home country of South Africa. Price considered, he’s my overall favorite play this week and a player I expect to see in contention on Sunday for the win.
Thomas Pieters ($6,800): Don’t look too far into the missed cut at Honda as the venue shift definitely didn’t do him any favours. This week though everyone is new to the course and Pieters is used to the grass used at this week’s venue as it’s the same as Riviera’s where he finished 2nd to DJ just two weeks ago. Makes a ton of birdies—led the field in birdies at the Genesis Open—which will be huge for a non-cut event.
Pablo Larrazabal ($6,500): Solid European player with some great results over the past year or so, he’s already got an 8th and 2nd place finish to his name in 2017. Also finished 7th at the Omega Masters last year—another tighter venue played at altitude. For a min-priced play he’s worth a look this week as a top twenty placing is in reach for him on this track.
Other: Alex Noren (11th ranked player in the world, won at altitude last year)
High Upside Tournament Picks
Jason Dufner ($8,100): Coming off a decent week and his best finish on the year (14th) Dufner is the type of player I want to target this week as he’s great at finding the fairway with driver—11th in accuracy this year. Dufner’s had success at similar styled venues to this week as well and at $8,100 his price should drive people off him.
Byeong-Hun An ($7,500): Great young player who took down a strong field in 2015 on another tree-lined venue at Wentworth. He’s shown flashes of busting out for a massive week already this season. Typically a boom or bust player who sometimes has issues avoiding the blow-up round or hole. Well suited for gpp’s this week though as he’ll get four rounds in regardless and can make a ton of birdies regardless of where he is placed in the golf tournament.
Danny Willett ($6,700): Really disappointed last week but the venue shift outside of the States should really help. Don’t forget that he finished T5 in his second last start and won’t have to deal with questions about fan behavior here; and that should help him get out of his own head this week. He’s played great at the Omega Masters over the years (won there in 2015 and runner-up in 2012) so can definitely handle the altitude shift.
Other: David Lipsky (coming off 2nd place finish, has won at altitude before)
Players to Consider (in no order)
– Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Gary Woodland, Paul Casey, Martin Kaymer, Louis Oosthuizen
– Thomas Pieters, Pablo Larrazabal, Alex Noren, Danny Willett, David Lipsky, Ben An, Jason Dufner
Good luck with your DraftKings WGC Mexico Championship lineups and picks, and make sure you’re checking back on our Golf Picks section to get Keagan and Alex’s picks that will be posted by Tuesday evening.