Fantasy Golf Picks: 2017 WGC Mexico Sleepers, Starts & Preview
Defending Champ: Adam Scott
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WGC Mexico Field
77 Players | No Cut
THEY TOOK OUR WGCCCCCCCCCC!!!!!!!! I’m sure you’ll hear enough over the course the of the week that Trump National Doral, which hosted this World Golf Championship from 2007 to 2016, lost the event to Mexico. Big miss for the PGA TOUR. Regardless of your politics, it’s undeniable keeping the tournament at Doral would have been the best thing for golf. You know Trump would have been on-site, doing crazy Trump stuff, instantly giving it more exposure than anything besides The Masters would generate. The PGA, like most of the world, bet against Trump winning. SAD! That decision cost them, what could have been, one of the highest rated tournaments of the year. Now, few care. Which is a shame, since the absolute best in the world will be in attendance, and it’d be way more entertaining to see them awkwardly shake hands with the Donald than awkwardly looking at food in hopes they don’t contract typhoid.
After the the OWGR and FedEx Cup reshuffling following the Honda Classic, the field for WGC Mexico is finalized at 77. That includes the return of Rory McIlroy. The world No. 3 is playing for the first time since January 15th when he suffered a rib injury in South Africa. First time playing competitively, actually. Speaking of the attention Trump can generate, Rory took in a round with El Donald last week. People didn’t seem to like that. Lots of attention, though. YUGE!!!
However, McIlroy’s return is basically a high end swap. We get Rory back and we lose Jason Day. Day pulled out last week citing an illness and a double ear infection. People, well Twitter, really seem to enjoy piling on Day whenever he withdraws from a tournament. Even very respectable publications describe him as “oft-ill.” Why not just come out and call him soft? I mean, I’m not saying that, but if you’re the type to start firing shots, shoot to kill. Since Day won’t be in the field, WGC Mexico can no longer boast about being the first event to sport all 50 of the world’s top ranked golfers since the PGA Championship. Nope. Only 49.
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Last week, us North Americans caught our first glimpses of Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Martin Kaymer, and Rafa Cabrera Bello. This week, the remaining six from the Top 50 who’ve been hiding out overseas are finally making the trek to the Americas: Henrik Stenson (5), Alex Noren (11), Bernd Wiesberger (36), Yuta Ikeda (37), Jeunghun Wang (43), and Lee Westwood (49). Chris Wood (52) and Andy Sullivan (53) get in too because they were inside the Top 50 until this Sunday. Regardless of where they’ve been stowing away, there’s probably enough other players wherever they’re at to split a charter to Mexico. The top two players from various other worldwide tours have also received an invite. Hideto Tanihara joins Ikeda from Japan, Richard Sterne and Brandon Stone are repping the Sunshine Tour, Aussies Marcus Fraser and Scott Hend qualified through the Asian Tour while Matthew Griffin and Michael Hendry get their spot through the PGA Tour of Australasia. EURO Draftkings players will be plenty familiar with Sam Brazel, Tommy Fleetwood, Pablo Larrazábal, David Lipsky, and Fabrizio Zanotti. They’re all currently inside the Top 10 in earnings on the Euro Tour, so they're in. Ditto for Pat Perez and Mackenzie Hughes for their inclusion in the Top 10 of the FedEx Cup Standings.
Finally, when you scroll down the standings Sunday afternoon, see Roberto Diaz, and wonder how he could possibility be in this event. Diaz is currently the highest ranked golfer from Mexico (472). Which begs the real question: What the fuck happened to Carlos Ortiz?
WGC Mexico Key Stats
Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green
Par 4 Birdies or Better
Birdie or Better: < 125 Yards
WGC Mexico Course
Club de Golf Chapultepec | Par 71 | 7330 Yards
Since this is the first time we’ve seen it pop up in the course rotation, very little is known about how Club de Golf Chapultepec will handle the world’s top players. Things we know: It measures slightly over 7,330 yards, the greens are Poa Annua (like many of the courses of the West Coast Swing), the rough is kikuyu grass, this WGC will be played here for each of the next seven seasons, it has hosted the Mexican Open 18 times (as recently as 2014), and sits at 7600+ feet above sea level. For comparison, that’s 2000+ feet higher than Denver. Guys are going to go BOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM off the tee. It’ll be like everyone is. Also, MEXICO WILL PAY the $9.75M purse. Actually, they won't.
The course has been renovated to get up to TOUR standards in preparation for this event. Playing as a Par 71, Club de Golf Chapultepec now sports just three Par 5s, with the shortest coming in at a daunting 575 yards; the other two measure over 600 yards. It’s going to be difficult to accurately gauge how long these holes are actually going to play however. The lowest point of the course sits at 7,603 feet above sea level, so it will be interesting to see how the elevation affects the distance of shots. For comparison, the event with the next closest elevation is the Barracuda Championship in Reno, which only hits 5,952 feet above sea level as its highest point.
I can’t distinguish whether the bombers will have an advantage or not, so I’ll rely on pretty standard stats to weed through the field. With so many short holes (Six Par 4s measure less than 410 yards), wedge play appears like it will be major factor regardless of how far you hit the ball. I briefly considered driving accuracy, as there are a lot of tree-lined fairways - just ripe for trouble if anyone ventures off path - but again, because of the length, a lot of the longer hitters are likely to club down off the tee and improve accuracy that way. Good Drive Percentage may be something investing to take a peek at in its place. As such, ball striking moves up the list in its place. Basically, target the players who are going to give themselves the ability to make the most birdies and pray the bogeys don’t catch up to them.
WGC Mexico Picks (Yahoo Game)
Dustin Johnson & Gary Woodland - When the unknown is in play, siding with the world’s top ranked player is a pretty sound strategy. DJ IT IS... With three T10s in five 2017 starts, Woodland enters with sneaky torrid form, most of which has been a product of his stellar wedge play. For the season, he ranks second in birdie or better percentage from 125 yards and in (42.2%).
Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Ryan Moore & Francesco Molinari - Same logic on DJ applies to Spieth. Take the pedigree and don’t overthink it… Rose hasn’t missed a cut in four starts and has just a lone finish worse than T4 over that time… Since we’ve locked in two, on paper, safe plays, let’s get a tad riskier to try and separate our teams from the field. Moore is an annual fixture atop the rankings in scoring from in close (24th 2017, 4th 2016, and 2nd 2015) and is accurate enough (25th) to make sure he stays out of trouble… Same goes for Francesco, except he enters in better form. The Italian has churned out three T15s in four starts this year and actually sits higher than Moore in both 125 yard and in birdie rate (15th) and driving accuracy (4th). As a kicker, Molinari is surprisingly 17th in Par 5 Birdies or Better as well. So his lack of distance off the tee hasn’t hurt him on longer holes.
Jon Rahm & Thomas Pieters - Finally, I’m looking for form and course fit with my final two slots. There’s always a case to be made for Henrik Stenson every time he plays, as he’ll only make so many North American appearances, so there’s rarely a danger of using up all of his starts in the Yahoo! game, but I’ll wait a week or two with the Swede. Rahm’s breakout win at Torrey Pines came on poa greens, and his overall game is beginning to look a tad Spiethian… Pieters stormed from the pack at Riviera to finished in solo second on a course which sports both poa greens and kikuyu rough. Many will be deterred after last week’s debacle at the Honda. I’m not too concerned about that, though. There isn't water on every hole here. Club de Golf Chapultepec seems like a better fit for the wedge specialist.
The Pat Mayo Hour covers the entire scope of the Fantasy sports landscape from Football to Reality TV, daily and yearly leagues and everything in between. You can watch the Pat Mayo Hour every weekday at 3:00pm EST, 8:00pm EST and Midnight on the FNTSY Sports Network Television channel or on your Apple TV, Xbox, Roku or Amazon Fire Stick. If you have a Fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at PatMayoHour@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
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