Another week is in the books – props to those who made it out of the Honda Classic alive. The pros were struggling out there and it was an ultra-tilt for many from a DFS perspective. Tune into the Lineup Logic PGA podcast later this week for a complete breakdown of last week as well as in depth discussion and picks for this week’s WGC Mexico Championship.
This week’s WGC Mexico Championship is the second of four “World Golf Championships” in the 2018 season. A couple quick notes on what sets the WGC events aside from other events we see throughout the year: First, the events are official money events for the PGA, Euro, and Japan tours, and are also sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour, and the PGA of Australia. What makes these events very interesting is that prize money is comparable to the four majors, there is NO CUT, and the winner of each event earns a three-year PGA Tour exemption. Multiple qualifying events as well as the top-10 in the current FedEx Cup standings are the determinants of who qualifies for the event, which assures a stacked field for all WGC tournaments. And for anyone who has been affected by the unusual amount of late WD’s we’ve seen in recent weeks, I have good news. As I stated, WGC events have no cut. Each player is guaranteed 4 rounds of golf. For this reason, these events are guaranteed money-makers for participants – and it is very unlikely you will see anyone cutting out early for reasons aside from injury or things of that sort. We’ll be seeing a limited field of somewhere around 70 pros, headlined by the likes of last week’s champion Justin Thomas, defending champion Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, and many others.
The Course: Club de Golf Chapultepec (Naucalpan, Mexico): 7,330 yards, par 71. To put it simply, the course isn’t the longest you’ll see but distance (especially off the tee) has surely helped here last year. Fairways are narrow and just about every hole is lined with dense woods. Single round scores will range everywhere from low-60’s to high 70’s, with an average of somewhere around par. We are going to be focusing on players that can gain strokes off the tee, scramble when necessary, and avoid three putts. Prior to last year, this event was played at Trump National Doral, so we have limited course history to go off this week. For starters, here’s a breakdown of how this week’s field has performed at this event over the past five years – remember, only 2017 was played at this week’s track.
Studs ($10,000+ DK)
Dustin Johnson ($11,900): DJ is the top priced option on both DK and FD and for good reason. He leads the field over each player’s last 36 rounds in SG ball striking and SG off the tee and has been playing phenomenally. After starting the year with a W at the Tournament of Champions, he finished 9th in Abu Dahbi and 2nd at Pebble Beach. His one small slip up was a 16th place (pretty good considering 1st round 74) at the Genesis Open two weeks ago. He’s also the defending champ. His salary didn’t change from his last outing, and it’s hard to ignore him this week.
Justin Thomas ($11,500): If there is one guy competing with DJ for the most “on fire” player on tour, it’s JT. He’s made 8 cuts in 8 starts this season and hasn’t finished outside the top 17 yet, with the exception of an off week at the Tournament of Champions. Coming off a high-intensity long week at the Honda, I’d be wary of his energy levels. Last week looked physically and mentally draining for a lot of guys out there.
Tommy Fleetwood ($10,000): After watching Fleetwood at the Honda last week, it’s easy to tell that his game is right there – and looking at his recent history only enforces that. Seemingly, his one off week came on his first week back in the USA for the Genesis Open. Taking that tournament out of the picture, Fleetwood has finished top-10 in his previous 5 starts. He also finished in 2nd here last year.
Mid-Range ($8,000 – $9,900 DK)
Justin Rose: ($9,700): Rose returns to the Tour after a somewhat extended break, coming off of quite the run from Fall of last year to the beginning of 2018. He’s well-rested and is familiar with the course. Though he didn’t perform all that well here last year, I’m confident in Rose’s game, based purely on what he has been doing over the past four months. This is a very modest price for Justin Rose when taking into consideration the price of those above him.
Alexander Noren ($8,800): I’ve tried to stay away, but I’m not sure I can anymore. As of late, if Noren is in the field, he’s in contention come Sunday. He’s made 9 cuts in 9 starts and is coming off of a 3rd place finish at the Honda Classic, fresh off topping most of this week’s studs at Riveria where he finished 16th. His ability to hit fairways and pinpoint approaches will surely help him avoid big numbers this week.
Paul Casey ($8,400): This is one of my favorite price-plays of the entire field. $8,400 for Paul Casey seems like it’s simply not enough considering his consistency and ability make serious runs when it matters. He too has experience at this course, finishing 16th last year. His 36-round stats in the field are outstanding: 6th in DK points, 4th SG tee to green, 2nd SG approach, 2nd SG ball striking, 5th SG off the tee, and 5th in birdies gained.
Other mid-range to consider: Patrick Cantlay, Thomas Pieters, Ross Fisher, Chez Reavie
Value (< $8,000 DK)
Webb Simpson ($7,800): As many people know, I just can’t ignore Webb at a course like this. I couldn’t be more confident with his ability to hit fairways, keep it straight, and avoid bogeys. With tight tree-lined fairways like we have this week, Webb Simpson strikes me as a safe option who flashed some real upside last week. At $7,800 he is a great play in both cash games and GPPs.
Marc Leishman ($7,600): He’s coming off of a real dud at Riveria and I’m assuming that’s going to drag his ownership right on down. This is definitely a price play, but not just a price play. Leishman showed his ability to accurately smash the ball off the tee while finessing approaches and draining putts on multiple occasions this season. His numbers are far above average when compared to the rest of the field, and I wouldn’t fault anyone for firing him up this week.
Hao-Tong Li ($7,400): Another guy that will surely go very, very low owned here. His name hasn’t exactly come to the forefront, at least around here. Li has done big things over the past year including a win at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic last month and three other top-20 finishes this season, but surely does go hot and cold. He showed some promise at the Genesis until eventually shooting 75 in his final round to finish 53rd. For a guaranteed low-owned GPP option with a high ceiling and a (very) low floor, he’s your guy. Remember – there’s not cut, so differentiation from the crowd is very important.
Other value to consider: Xander Schauffele, Rafa Cabrera-Bello (cash), Matthew Fitzpatrick, Matt Kuchar, Francesco Molinari, Pat Perez, Joost Luiten
As always, I’d like to remind everyone that this is a first look at this week’s field and event. For more detailed and up-to-date analysis, tune into THE SWEET SPOT (Lineup Logic) podcast which will be available in the next day. Also, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@donaldremington) and on the Lineup Logic Slack channel with any questions or comments. Thanks for reading and good luck this week.