The field for this week’s PGA Tour event, the Mexico Open, is decidedly not good.
We’ve hit a bit of a lull in the schedule, in between the Masters and next month’s PGA Championship, and there’s no better example of that than this week’s Mexico Open. Going strictly off the world golf rankings, this is the weakest non-opposite field event of the season thus far.
That’s not to say there isn’t any star power this week. World No. 2 Jon Rahm is hoping a swing through Mexico can get him back on track, and he’s unsurprisingly the betting favorite at a comical +350 at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Adding to the, um, uncertainty of this week’s event is the unfamiliarity with the course: Vidanta Vallarta in Vallarta, Mexico. It’s a new event on the schedule — just the third Mexican tournament — and thus Vidanta is a new course on the rotation.
Vidanta typically plays as a par-73, but it will play as a par-71 this week at a lengthy 7,456 yards.
“I’m expecting a resort-type of golf course, but I’m saying there’s some long holes out there, which is not characteristic of resort golf, and it’s a quality design,” Rahm told reporters at his pre-tournament press conference Tuesday.
Resort-style courses typically feature wide fairways, which they’re clearly trying to offset by “lengthening” the course. There are two par-5s of more than 600 yards and four par-4s of at least 496 yards on the scorecard.
This week’s event preview on PGATour.com notes the course features “large landing areas off the tee, while the greens are protected by cavernous bunkers.”
Let’s try to make some picks for the Mexico Open, shall we?
Favorite to back: Sebastián Muñoz (+2500)
It’s never great when Seabass is a) a favorite and b) a favorite worth “backing,” but here we are. It’s entirely possible, if not likely, Rahm blitzes this course and this field to run away with it. But there’s not much value there, so we’ll rock with Muñoz, who is long enough off the tee and is quite good with his long irons. Both skills should play here, and maybe there’s a slight bit of correlation to the fact he has a couple of decent showings (22nd, 14th) at the WGC-Mexico tournament in his two starts.
Favorite to fade: Cameron Tringale (+2000)
Again, it’s wild that when you look at the DraftKings Sportsbook odds board, Tringale sits right below Rahm. His form is just OK — 12th at the RBC Heritage but also two missed cuts in his last four starts — and he doesn’t really fit the profile of what we’re looking at this week. He’s not especially long off the tee, he doesn’t make hay on par-5s, and he’s pretty bad when it comes to getting up and down out of the bunker. If his approach game isn’t dialed in, he’ll struggle to compete for the win.
First-round leader: Aaron Wise (+4000)
Mexico native Abraham Ancer said something interesting Tuesday when he mentioned how the wind tends to kick up in the afternoon and specifically said “there might be a lot of birdies in the morning.” That said, we targeted early tee times for a first-round leader fire and settled on Wise. He ranks first in the field over the last 24 rounds on strokes gained for par-4s of 500 yards or more and is the 13th-best tee-to-green player in the field. Wise also ranks 12th on Tour in first-round scoring this season. Also worth a look: Charles Howell III (60-1) and CT Pan (55-1).
Long shot to watch: Robert Streb (+13000)
Streb is funny. Looking at his recent results, he has three top-10 finishes since mid-October, which feels good for someone the caliber of Robert Streb. In that same stretch, however, he has seven missed cuts. Hit or miss is an understatement with him. But if there ever were a week for him to really hit, you’d have to think it’s on what should be a fairly easy course in a very weak field, right? He’s solid off the tee, has a pretty good approach game and takes advantage of par-5s. The ingredients for good Streb are definitely there this week.