Daniel Box
By Daniel Box

WGC Mexico Preview

The first World Golf Championship event of the season has arrived, and it's set to be a cracker with a great course, fantastic field and plenty of talking points.

Sergio's disqualification, J.B. Holmes' slow play, Spieth's meltdown, Tiger's return and shorts in practice rounds have all been on the agenda in the past few weeks. For the next few days though, hopefully we can all just enjoy some top-quality golf.

The WGC - Mexico Championship is now in its third edition and takes place at Chapultepec Golf Club just outside of Mexico City, having taken over from Donald Trump's Doral in 2017.

The Course

The main talking point about the course at Chapultepec is the fact that it is played at high altitude - over 7,500 feet above sea level - which means that we are going to be hearing all week about how far the players are carrying the ball. Look forward to 250 yard mid irons, fairway woods carrying over the 300 yard mark and players struggling to get to grips with their yardages.

Look a little closer however, and the course itself is quite an interesting one. It's tight and tree-lined, leading Tommy Fleetwood to describe it as having a 'European feel', which has been reflected in the leaderboards with plenty of European Tour regulars playing well.

It also holds quite a traditional feel with small but tricky green complexes featuring the poa annua grass, the same type players experienced at Riviera last week.

Scoring in the last couple of years has been pretty good too, with Dustin Johnson posting -14 in 2017 and Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas finishing on -16 last year. With over half of the field returning to this event again, you could expect the scoring to improve as players have had the benefit of four more rounds on this still relatively unknown course.

The Field

With a limited field of just 72 participants there is no cut this week, but there is also no shortage of big names. The qualification requirements for these WGC events are among the toughest on the entire schedule, which along with the ranking points and money on offer, mean that they are likely to attract the best players.

Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy headline, with all three players in great form this season so far. JT will be looking to avenge his final round slip-up last week, whilst Johnson has already won at Chapultepec and McIlroy has three consecutive Top 5s this season.

If that wasn't enough to whet your appetite, there's also the small matter of Tiger Woods, who has won 18 WGC events, making his first appearance at this event since it moved to Mexico. There were some promising signs at Riviera last week, where he finished T15. Is he ready to make it win No 81 on the PGA Tour?

As this is a co-sanctioned event, there are also a host of top European Tour players present looking to cash in and jump up the Race To Dubai rankings. Recent winners Shane Lowry and Lee Westwood, as well as British Masters champion Eddie Pepperell, feature alongside Ryder Cup winners Tyrrell Hatton and Thorbjorn Olesen.

Last Year

Phil the Thrill captured his 43rd Tour victory last year, ending a drought of nearly 5 years, in typically dramatic fashion. Mickelson was met in a playoff by Justin Thomas, who had holed out from the fairway for eagle on his 72nd hole to post -16. Mickelson finally beat the young American on the first playoff hole with a two-putt par. Europeans Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Tyrrell Hatton tied for 3rd just one shot behind.

Ones To Watch

Look out for players who have plenty of experience at altitude. Many South Africans grew up playing this type of golf and so should be able to adapt quickly. Similarly, those who play well in Switzerland at the European Tour event could find that this event suits them too. Matt Fitzpatrick, priced as high as 90/1, is a multiple winner at Crans-Montana.

Perhaps more than any other week, this event will require some accurate yardage measurement and club distance checks to ensure no mistakes. Any time there are extra calculations required, you can trust Bryson to have done his homework and crunched the numbers. He's also in great form too, with 5 wins worldwide in the last 9 months. Don't be surprised if he works it all out here.

The course is not dissimilar to Riviera, and so those players who have good course history there or played well there last year could find that they enjoy the challenge of Chapultepec.

Finally, keep an eye on Shubhankar Sharma, who emerged as a relative unknown to lead going into the final round last year before fading away. He finished second in India last week, so if he can keep that form up he could be in the mix again.

For our full Betting Tips piece, follow the link here to find out who we are tipping to take the title!


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