The WGC-Mexico Championship is the first World Golf Championship event of 2020, and this year it arrives with a little bit of a peculiar feel in the air. Question marks have been raised over the future membership of a number of the PGA Tour's biggest stars, in favour of a move to the prospective Premier Golf League, reportedly led by funding from the Saudi Royal Family.
Image Credit: Golf Post
The latest rumours are that Tiger Woods has been offered north of $200 million to join up, and whilst there is no indication that anything other than preliminary discussions with his team have taken place, the fact that he was willing to entertain the idea at last week's Genesis Invitational should be a wake-up call to both the PGA and European Tour that some golfers are taking the proposal very seriously...
Whilst Tiger's absence this week is said to be due to the draining effects of a week's hosting at the Genesis Invitational, the PGA Tour must surely be worried that some of their most prized assets have chosen to stay at home this week rather than compete at one of the season's biggest events.
Nevertheless, there is still plenty to get excited about here. It is still a fantastic field, on a course which encourages low-scoring and positive play. Let's take a closer look at what to expect this week...
Dustin Johnson's final round of 66 gave him his second victory at this event in three years, closing out ahead of Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey.
Golf Club de Chapultepec, just outside of Mexico City, is playing host to this event for the fourth time since its switch from Doral, and it's likely that you'll hear A LOT about altitude and yardages this week.
Image Credit: PGA Tour
That's because the course seems to play around 10-15% less than it's scorecard yardage, meaning that extra pressure will be placed upon the players (and their caddies) to ensure they have the right yardage and club for each shot. If you're somebody who is firmly placed on the 'golf ball goes too far' bandwagon, this may not be the week for you.
The main defence for the course is the greens, which are quick, small and undulating. They rank consistently among the most difficult that the players will experience in the PGA Tour, with approach putts finishing further from the hole here than at any other golf course.
The two clear favourites this week are, unsurprisingly, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy.
None of Koepka, Cantlay, Woods, Mickelson, Fowler, or Rose have made the trip to Mexico City this week. In the past, it would've been unheard of for golfers to skip an event which is second only to the majors in terms of purse and importance.
But scheduling is now such an important consideration for the players when they map out their aims for the season, and particularly so at this time of year with The Masters fast approaching. So, you can understand some players having a week off - needs-must in some cases. The likes of Koepka and Woods, who have had injury concerns and Mickelson, who has had a very busy start to the season, felt that this was the week to take a break.
Despite that there is still a strong field which brings together the best that the European and PGA Tours can offer. The WGC events do not have a cut, which means that all 72 players are guaranteed four days of golf. It's also a great chance to build up some World Ranking points too - and there's always the Olympic and Ryder Cup qualification to have in mind. All in all, It's set to be an exciting watch everything considered.
We've asked ex-LET professional and Golfalot equipment reviewer Sophie Walker to share her thoughts about this week's event, and who she's tipping to do well in Mexico...
The Favourite - Dustin Johnson @15/2
Image Credit: Dustin Johnson Twitter
"His record is incredible around this course, with two wins and a top 10 in his three appearances. He showed some really promising signs in finishing 10th last week despite a bit of a blip on the back nine on Sunday."
"DJ hasn't played his best golf over the last 9 months but a decent showing at Pebble, aswell as a second-place finish in Saudi Arabia, indicate that his next win could be just around the corner."
The Underdog - Collin Morikawa @ 40/1
Image Credit: Collin Morikawa Twitter
"My 'middle of the road' bet this week is Collin Morikawa. The young American gained his PGA Tour card through sponsor invitations only last year and amazingly won the Barracuda Championship in just his fifth start."
"He hails from the same class of college prodigies which contained Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland and this year ranks 9th in Strokes Gained: Tee To Green, which could be vital this week."
The Longshot - Scottie Sheffler @ 100/1
Image Credit: Korn Ferry Tour Twitter
"Scheffler is now plying his trade on the PGA Tour after qualifying as the Number One player on the Korn Ferry Tour last year. You can get him as high as 100-1 this week which is great each way odds. He makes plenty of birdies which, judging by the winning scores in this event, is a must. You can't be afraid to go low in Mexico!"