The PGA flies across the border to Mexico this week for the Mexico Open. Jon Rahm will defend this week in a field which boasts just three of the world’s top 50 players. With the PGA Championship just a few weeks away now & another elevated event next week the majority of the top 100 have taken this week off to prep for the bigger events. That makes this week a perfect chance for somebody to make a breakthrough win should Rahm have an off week. There is still plenty at stake this week with PGA card security, a 2-year exemption, a place at Augusta & a place at the Tournament of champions for the eventual winner. The big question most are asking is how many does Rahm win by but you never know, week in week out golf can eventually take its toll on you & you have an off week.
This week’s course is Vindanta Nuervo Vallarta in Nayarit, Mexico. A Greg Norman Design from 2016. This is the 2nd time this event has been held here on the PGA tour having taken over as the home of the Mexico open from Estrella Del Mar which the Latino America Tour used. Nuervo Vallarta is a par 71 scorecard measuring 7456 yards. The course consists of five par 3s measuring between 170 & 226 yards, nine par 4s measuring between 297 & 520 with an average of 456 & four par 5s measuring between 548 & 637 yards. Greg Normal placed 93 Bunkers & designed the course around 6 Lakes which will welcome any error prone shots this week. All grasses on both the Greens & Fairways are Paspalum. The course is very much a tee it high & let it fly track with the fairways a generous width for the not so accurate of hitters to take advantage of. This is evident looking at last year’s leader board with some of the bigger hitters in the top 10 such as Rahm, Champ, Finau & Kitayama.
The weather might finally not have a say in a stroke play tournament for the 1st time in a whilst. 36° sunshine will be on offer throughout the tournament with currently a 2% chance of rain. The wind may gust from time to time but looks to be remaining below 10pmh so the guys shouldn’t have any issues weather wise this week. If anything, the sun will bake out the course making it firm & fast. It certainly will be nice to have a full days play for a change.
Previous Winning Stats
Winner – Jon Rahm
Odds – 5-1
Off the tee 2nd
Tee to Green 3rd
Approach the Green 30th
Around the Green 22nd
Top 5 players playing this week per stokes gained categories.
Off the Tee; List, Woodland, Grant, Rahm, Daffue
Approach; Finau, Rahm, Martin, Stroud & Roy
Tee to Green; Rahm, Finau, Clark, Bramlett & An
Around the Green; An, Haas, Wallace, McGirt & Baddeley
Putting; McNealy, Hall, B.Taylor, Novak & Putnam
Nicolai Hojgaard 25-1 Coral 10 Places 2PTS
Nicolai has played so well stateside he has now earnt special PGA Membership. With the 28th place finish in Texas & the 2nd the previous week he has now passed the threshold for temporary membership. The two-time DP world tour winner will be looking to add a PGA trophy to his already impressive cabinet. This week is a perfect track for him with wide fairways & long yardages, so he can tee it up & let fly. Nicolai has already won on a track with a similar set up when he won the Ras Al Khaimah where he could bomb drives & flip the wedges onto the green. The 22-year-old hasn’t missed a cut yet this season & has had three top 10s with a worst finish of 38th so he is one of the form players this week.
Strokes Gained Rank (Taken from Valero Texas Open)
Off the Tee 68th
Tee to Green 27th
Around the Green 23rd
Form – 28/2/32/5/13
Course Form – Debut
Byeong Hun An 33-1 Coral 10 Places
I still find it hard to believe the former world no 24 has not got a PGA tour win on his resume. In the peak of his form, he was winning the DP World tours flagship event at Wentworth. Byeong lost his way a little at the back end of 2021 & ended up losing his card & having to drop back down to the Korn Ferry tour. During the 2022 Korn Ferry season he managed to pick up a win at the Lecom Sunset Classic & had various solid finishes which earned him a tour card for 2023. It has been a mixed bag this year with two solid top 10 finishes & a couple of top 20s mixed in with Missed cuts. His driving distance could be key this week because his length on these wide fairways could leave him very short irons into the greens. The Korean ranks 8th for driving distance this year averaging 311.8. He also possesses one of best short games on tour where he ranks 1st for Strokes gained around the green which is made up of 5th for sand save percentage, 44th scrambling & 24th scrambling from the rough. Off the back of a good performance in the team event with SH Kim where they finished T13 Byeong An has a perfect opportunity to pick up his maiden win this week.
Strokes Gained Rank
Off the Tee 87th
Tee to Green 34th
Around the Green 1st
Form – 6/45/35/WD/21
Course Form – Debut
Dylan Wu 100-1 William Hill 8 Places
Dylan has been very consistent this year picking up pay a check every week bar two weeks where he missed the cut. His average finish in the eight events he has made the weekend on is 33rd which consists of two top 20 finishes. His long game approach play will be key this week & he is in the top 50 on tour for two of these categories, he is 28th for approach between 175-200 & 33rd for approaches between 225-250. He can take confidence this week with his approach play on the huge par fours & going for the par 5s in two shots knowing he is one of the better players this week in these categories. The American has had success in the Korn Ferry Tour in Mexico back in 2020 where he finished 4th in the El Bosque Mexico Open so here is hoping he can repeat that this week. The only negative about this week for Dylan is that he missed the cut last year at this event however it was only from shooting two rounds of even par 71 to miss the cut by one shot.
Strokes Gained Rank
Off the Tee 93rd
Tee to Green 62nd
Around the Green 69th
Form – 39/16/58/35/48
Course Form – MC
Alejandro Tosti 200-1 Skybet 8 Places
Tosti will be looking to make the most of a sponsor invitation this week when he tees it up on the PGA tour for just the 2nd time in his career. He has been grinding it out on the Latino America tour since 2018 but last year earned his spot on the Korn Ferry tour where he has been played very nicely, in his last four starts Alejandro has finished 22nd 10th 7th & 25th so his game is certainly trending in the right direction & has him sat in 27th in the points leader board. The 26-year-old has the best birdie average on the Korn ferry averaging nearly 6 birdies a round which shows he has no fear when it comes to aggressive play. For driving distance, he ranks 4th averaging 325 which as I spoke about with Nicolai will only be beneficial on this track this week. He hits 74% of greens in Regulation & ranks 28th for putting so his game really is firing on all cylinders & a chance to showcase that on the biggest stage on the PGA Tour couldn’t come at a better time.
Stokes Gained Rank (No Data available, stats from Korn Ferry)
Driving Distance 4th
Driving accuracy 96th
Green in Regulation 34th
Putting per round 21st
Form – 22/10/7/25/MC
Course Form – Debut
Woodland – Game looks to be trending but Nicolai seems a better pick at the price this week.
Nico Echavarria – Winner already this year & should be able to acclimatise better than most with the climate being like his home country.