Mexico Open preview for the Waggle Duff community by @MattTizzardGolf
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Last time out with the coupon – RBC Heritage Review
I didn’t bet at the Zurich Classic, as I wanted to spend a bit more time preparing for this week’s Mexico Open. I also thoroughly enjoy the team events as a spectacle and thoroughly enjoyed a stress-free weekend!
RBC Heritage was a “nearly” week for me, you may have seen from my TikTok that I had Cantlay, Hadwin & Morikawa. All of which had position at some point, especially Cantlay who unfortunately lost on a play-off. After a Sunday double of Spieth & Lowry to win their groups, I ended the week -1.05u. This means I ended the week +12u for the year following a poor Masters.
Before I begin this Mexico Open preview, this article is written to aid you with your plays for this week. If you have any questions or comments you can always DM me @MattTizzardGolf on Twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org . It’s always good to share opinion and learn.
Mexico Open Preview
A few big names are traveling down South this week, for what I am going to predict will be a birdie fest. Jon Rahm headlines a field that is notoriously weaker than I presume organisers expected. I am honestly scared of what odds he will be…. 5/1!? I think we can avoid 2u on Jon, and to be honest he needs get the flat stick working.
For the next 3 years, the Mexico Open will be held at Vidanta as PGA Tour returns to Latin America. Potentially unbeknown to many readers, The Mexican Open is a historical event that has run under different names, and one that many of the old great have competed in.
For keen golf fans you will recognise that this event has been branded, rebranded, toured, and “re-toured” under the PGA Latinoamérica, The Nationwide tour and The DP World’s 2nd string tour, “The Challenge Tour.” Winners include some familiar names, Troy Merritt (2009), Stewart Cink (1996) and Lee Trevino (1973 & 1975). However, I am not expecting the past of this event to paint any imágenes.
This is because, unlike the RBC Heritage of a fortnight ago, the now, Mexico Open is held at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Golf Course for the first time. As a result, 132 players will complete for $7.3m and 500 FedEx cup points.
The irony is the course selected for the week was designed by the great white shark, Greg Norman. It’s actually called The Norman Signature Course. Therefore, it is safe to say, it’s not only the course that will be possibly baring its teeth this week.
Mexico Open – The Course
Despite my jest, the Mexico Open course has some fantastic reviews and will make a great spectacle for the fans that get on the course. Both the Jack Nicklaus course and Greg Norman signature course is highly regarded by many, and the course features in Top100golfcourses.com
My only worry about the course is that it is taken apart by the World’s ‘elite’ that descends on Mexico. Here are the headlines.
- Designer – Greg Norman
- 18 Hole, Par 71
- Yards – 7,456
- Course Type – Championship
- Grass on Greens – Paspalum
- Grass on Fairways – Paspalum
- Bunkers – 106
- Lakes – 6
Having looked online and studied, the course looks very, well, “hotel lads abroad.” Certainly, a holiday destination for many, the Vidanta setup looks 5 stars. The vibes, appear to be that of when The European Tour, I mean DP World Tour (sigh), at The Canary Islands. Albeit the sand here is sand coloured and not black.
To describe the course, there are big sandy wasteland, some vegetation, and a fair amount of water. However, we also have big greens and big fairways for the players to target golf away at.
As I analyse the course, I am being remarkably taken mentally to Garrick Higgo’s romping win at the Golf Costa Adeje, Canary Islands at -27. Surely we won’t get the same this week…. will we?
It looks right now there isn’t going to be a breath of air and the temperature will be 72F / 22F degrees. The wind is the course’s defence, and it doesn’t seem to be there. This really could be a low scoring week.
Correlated Course Analysis
We haven’t played the Mexico Open on the PGA Tour, but some assumptions can be made. For this preview, I have looked at the historical performance at; “Makyakoba Golf Classic, Corales, RSM Classic, RBC Heritage, TPC San Antonio & Waialae GC for the Sony Open.
I am drawn predominantly to some Mayakoba correlation due to the geography, the course layout and the grass type also being Paspalum. It’s more of a thinker’s course than Vidanta appears to be, particular off the tee. However, the geography, set up and the grass is similar.
In essence, I am interested in seaside courses and some correlation with geography, which appears to be a factor. Particularly with the performance of Latin-American golfers in this region.
As I analyse what are the most important stats on each course, the driving accuracy or stroke gained OTT and T2G and the putting stats coming through as highly important.
Interestingly, at The RSM & Sony Open we need putters that are good from around 5 – 10 feet. What surprised me is the best from this length in 2022 playing this week is Adam Long, he holes under 7/10 from this length. My gut feel would be a tour average that is much higher…. It isn’t and there lies a possible angle.
With the big dog, which should get a fair ride this week. Mayakoba the RSM Classic shows us “seaside” importance off the tee, ranking 5th, and 3rd in importance out of over 70 analysed stats. Albeit Makyakoba is definitely more of a thinker’s course. Vidanta is a lot longer and much wider than Makyakoba so players with length will have an advantage off the tee.
I am interested in RBC because again the water and flatness of the course. Also, because it’s been played recently, and you can also pull some correlation in performance. A different strategy off the tee but I believe players that played well at Harbour Town, who match Vidanta, can certainly perform.
Historically I have picked long players for the long courses, and I am not a believer this is always the case. The advantage typically lies in being able to hit a shorter club in. I would rather be hitting an 8 iron than a 6 iron. Therefore, I am interested in players with good approach play, rather than having been worried with driving accuracy or length. Let me explain, with big fairways the better players off the tee can find the right places to have the best angles to get close. I know many will be leaning towards just length this week. However, I am trying to be pragmatic. They will all find the fairways, but whoever pinpoints within them can hold an advantage.
Within approach, most players will find the fairway this week and hit the larger greens. But how close proximity will players be hitting in.
Mexico Open – Key Stats Analysed
I use RickRunGood & PGA Tour stats, before any correlation is published I am drawn towards off the tee golf stats and putting. Usually, these types of courses have the wind as their primary defense, unless the weather report changes. That will be the case
- SGOTT (Strokes gained off the tee)
- PAR 5 Performance
- PUTTING from 5 – 10 Feet
SGOTT (Strokes gained off the tee)
Jon Rahm (1st), our favourite, leads SGOTT in 2022 on the PGA Tour, averaging 1.29 gained.
Hayden Buckley who has 2 Top 20’s this year (1 at the Sony Open) is 12th scoring 0.56 in strokes gained.
I finally note Callum Tarren (18th) picking up over 0.5 in SGOTT. He also has had a good week in the Zurich Classic. I don’t pay too much attention to this for more historical golfers, but for up-and-coming golfer the Zurich can be a confidence booster. Callum is 31 years old but relatively up and coming on The PGA Tour.
Traditionally one of the most important stats and an indicator of how well a player is striking it. Due to the longer par 3’s and long par 4’s. I thought about looking at PGATour.com at the best players from 150 – 175 yards but I want to know total stroke gained.
Some of the big hitters will be going in with short clubs from under 150 yards which would knock this stat out the water. So, I am bringing the shorter and more average players into play by looking totally at this statistic.
There is an argument to play big hitters this week. For me, I am looking for accurate drivers that will find the right area of the fairway and have the chance to attack pins and get low. Horses for course, but that’s my route this week.
The best in the field in approach over the last 24 rounds are Sangmoon Bae (don’t touch him, he really can’t putt at the moment), Justin Lower, the tipped Austin Smootherman & Robert Garrigus. Also towards the top of the leaderboard are Cameron Tringale, Kurt Kitayama, Chris Kirk, and Gary Woodland.
PAR 5 performance
Let us take a look at some of the best Par 5 players on tour in 2022. There are 3 par 5’s in the closing 7 holes of the Mexico Open, which will be fun if someone is chasing on Sunday.
|RANK LAST WEEK||PLAYER NAME||ROUNDS||PAR 5 AVG|
Throughout the stats, and probably for the next few weeks I will use RickRunGood but also The PGA Tour stats as have enough 2022 data to build some trends.
The best putters this week include Abraham Ancer (+0.95), Brendon Todd (+0.78) and Adam Long (+0.43). Long and Ancer are also plus stroke gained off the tee. The only 2 people out of the top 17 putters for the week.
PUTTING from 5 – 10 Feet
The Paspalum grass is slower, so players will be hitting their putts harder than they would week on week. This makes the shorter parts slightly more challenging because it’s a longer stroke. Hence my interest in this stat.
A lot of putting presence in the field, which I believe will be crucial. My only notes are that the wind won’t play havoc with the short putts like we can see on windier, seaside courses. Also, greens like this seem to be flatter. This shows for me that the better putters will typically rise to the top.
Best putters this week from 5 – 10 feet range
|RANK LAST WEEK||PLAYER NAME||ROUNDS||% MADE|
- John Rahm – not at that price.
- Abraham Ancer
- Emiliano Grillo
- Scott Piercy
- Aaron Rai
- Matt Jones
- Adam Long
- Cameron Tringale
- Brandan Todd
- Chris Kirk
- Wyndham Clark
- Aaron Wise
- Saith Theegala
- Kurt Kitayama
- Callum Tarren
I’ve got 4 players I am definitely going to back. I will take perhaps 3 more throughout the week as things develop.
Vamos! Viva la Mexico! Abraham is an obvious pick at the top of the market for the Mexico Open, although I do not love the price. He is a monster tee to green, consistently picking up a shot on the field week on week. He hasn’t been great with the flat stick but comes with some form.
A good performance at the WGC matchplay and a T8 earlier in Saudi. It’s definitely due for Ancer, who’s last time to Mexico was again Mayakoba where he came 8th.
Ancer would have grown up playing this style of course, will be comfortable on the grass and the layout. If the putts roll, he will be there or there abouts.
Chris Kirk has been a monster this year. Looking at his form he boasts the following: T5 Arnold Palmer, T7 Honda Classic, T14 WM Pheonix Open.
When looking for a player that can put himself into position, he is arguably the best in the field this week. Picking up consistently 0.5 shots on the field off the tee and a whopping 1.76 shots on the field in strokes gained tee to green.
The putter has been cold of late, that is my concern. However, this is a different surface to recent events, and I am hopeful it can change his luck. I mean, at the RBC his putting performance was dreadful, I would be surprised if he hasn’t been working away to bring it back to that hot streak in February.
A few weeks ago, Todd had his best finish for about 6 months. He came T8 at the Valero Texas Open. His wins on tour have come at courses that I like; Makyakoba the Bermuda Championship. He also is putting well this year from the short distance.
His history in general on correlated courses is relatively strong. In 2019 he won the Mayakoba and followed up with a T11 in 2021 and a T8 in 2022. He also has a 4th place at the RSM in 2019 & the RSC Heritage in 2015. Todd clearly likes the seaside and Mexico.
With the traditional Greg Norman littering of bunkers, it’s good to find that Todd is also one of the best players in the field at sand save percentage (59% | 25th on tour).
Finally, he is inside the Top 5 in the field for stroke gained putting. A key statistic for me this week. We need him to have a better week particularly off the tee, but the low wind and wide fairways will put people in position.
I think there is value in Todd, however you may need to look at the exchange for a better price.
When building my plays and modelling, Long was an easy pick. In his earlier 24 rounds of golf, he was losing shots on the field Tee-to-Green. Something fundamentally important this week. Therefore, to see him start to now gain shots in his last 12 rounds shows that he is swinging it very well and improving.
He also is one of the best putters in the field, you will see from my earlier table that he is superb from 5 – 10 feet and the best statistically in the field. If this game is trending and he is getting the chances, there is a good chance he can convert.
Finally, I will have 0.5u each way on Callum Tarren and Kurt Kitayama. Tarren is awful around the green, but I am expecting him to be putting most the time for birdie due to the large fairways, large greens, and lack of wind. Kitayama is lethal with the irons and playing well. I placed with him a few weeks ago at 400/1. I will also look to play Tringale at some point if the price is right, but I don’t want to be too top heavy.
Good luck everyone with your plays, if you take a different view to my approach please let me know. Always good to learn and collaborate!
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