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Opinion & Analysis

2017 WGC-Mexico Championship: Odds, Picks, and Props

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The world’s top players are headed to Mexico City this week for 2017’s first World Golf Championship. The WGC–Mexico Championship, held away from Trump National Doral for the first time since 2007, is filled with storylines; Dustin Johnson’s first appearance since becoming the World No. 1, Rory’s return from a rib injury, and Henrik Stenson’s first appearance in the Americas since last year’s Deutsche Bank Championship. The first WGC of the year has a list of big-name winners including reigning champ Adam Scott, D. Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods — who holds the 72-hole tournament record with 261 (23-under) at The Grove in 2006. With a field including 49 of the world’s top 50 players, this year’s trophy is truly up for grabs.

The Course

The par-71 Club de Golf Chapultepec comes in at 7,330 yards. It is no stranger to hosting big time events as it was the original venue of the Mexican Open in 1944 and has hosted the event 18 times, as recently as 2014. With tree-lined fairways and undulating greens, accuracy off the tee and ball striking will be at premium. And with plenty of doglegs, the players who can shape the ball both ways will have a major advantage. It’s also important to note that Club de Golf Chapultepec has Poa Annua greens, so those who fair well on the Tour’s West Coast Swing will likely feel comfortable on the putting surface.

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In addition to the usual obstacles, players will face a unique challenge here as the course sits almost 8,000 feet above sea level. At that altitude, players can expect the ball to fly at least 10-15 percent longer than usual. It’ll be interesting to see how many players overshoot the green and look down to see if they caught a flyer.

Odds

Past Champs in the field:

  • Phil Mickelson (+5000)
  • Justin Rose (+2200)
  • Patrick Reed (+5000)
  • Dustin Johnson (+650)
  • Adam Scott (+2800)

Favorites:

  • Dustin Johnson (+650)
  • Jordan Spieth (+800)
  • Rory McIlroy (+1200)
  • Henrik Stenson (+1400)
  • Rickie Fowler (+1800)
  • Adam Scott (+2800)
  • Justin Rose (+2200)
  • Sergio Garcia (+2800)
  • Jon Rahm (+3000)
  • Justin Thomas (+3300)

Picks

My Pick: At a course that’s essentially an unknown to the world’s top players, it’s tough to go against the number 1 player in the world. However, I’m going to do just that. My pick this week is Henrik Stenson (+1400). With the elevation effect, the long hitters’ advantage is taken away and it’s likely they’ll have to tee off with woods and irons. Nobody hits a 3-wood with more confidence and accuracy than Stenson. Stenson ranks 7th in Driving Accuracy and 5th in GIR on the European Tour making him a scoring machine with a Stroke Average of just over 68.

Value Pick: I’m going with Jon Rahm as my value pick at +3,000. Generally, I’d go a little further down the favorites list for this pick but I think Rahm has a legitimate chance to win this week. He already has a win and five top 25s in his first full season on Tour and ranks 5th in Shots Gained Off the Tee. The only part of his game that could be considered a weakness is his putting, but, after getting his first win at Torrey Pines, he showed just how comfortable he is on Poa greens.

Long Shot: It’s hard to consider former world number 1 Lee Westwood (+10000) a long shot but, in a field with this kind of talent, that’s exactly what he is. Westwood’s distance off the tee is his biggest knock but at almost 8,000 feet above sea level, that shouldn’t cause him any issues. He’s averaging a sub-70 round on the European Tour and his experience makes him hard to pass on with these odds.

Who to stay away from: Rory McIlroy (+1,200). I never thought I’d say this, but I don’t see McIlroy being a good play this week. He can win anytime he steps out on the course but his rib injury makes me nervous. I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up with a WD, especially since he’ll be particularly cautious with the Masters only five weeks away.

Props

Will there be a playoff? Yes (+300) No (-450); I’m going with “No” here. My gut tells me someone is going to pull away from the field this week and there have only been two playoffs in this event since it began in 1999. 

Winning Margin – Playoff (+300) 1 Stroke (+250) 2 Strokes (+400) 3 Strokes (+500) 4+ Strokes(+300); Like I said, I think someone runs away with this tournament. The course is unknown but it’s going to fit someone’s eye. Someone is going to love this course. That being said, 3 Strokes is my pick. With this type of field nobody is going to win by 10 shots but someone will separate himself.

Hole-in-One – Yes (+135) No (-175); I’m always rooting for an ace and I think we’ll see one this week. With an elite field comes incredible ball striking; players should be firing at the pin on the par-3 17th. Playing at only 172 yards, most players will be using a short iron here.

Henrik Stenson Top 5 Finish (+275); This should be a lock. I’m going with Stenson as the winner but I don’t see how he finishes outside the top 5. He hasn’t finished outside the top 10 on the European Tour since July of 2016 and this course should suit his game.

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Twitter @NickRitaccoGolf

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Dante Demeo

    Mar 2, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Wow you couldn’t have been more wrong about Henrik Stenson. Won’t ever be listening to you again.

    • Nick Ritacco

      Mar 2, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      Still the first round Dante – plenty of golf left to play. But I’m pretty sure Westwood and Rahm are T-2 and T-4 at the moment.

      • Alex

        Mar 2, 2017 at 5:03 pm

        1st and tied for second now! Westwood might take this one!

  2. Tazz2293

    Mar 1, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Not gonna watch this tournament

    PGA soiled themselves. This tournament should be at Doral

  3. Tazz2293

    Mar 1, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    I am boycotting this tournament. This tournament should be played at Doral.

    PGA soiled themselves on this one.

  4. Gamble Gamble

    Feb 28, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Zach Johnson for the win!

  5. Phil

    Feb 28, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    SHANK! You were 0 for 4 on your genius prop bets from last week. You didn’t even have Rickie on your radar.

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Opinion & Analysis

A Letter from the Editor: Big changes are happening at GolfWRX

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For those of you who don’t know who I am, my name is Andrew Tursky. I recently went from the right-hand-man of former GolfWRX Editor-in-Chief Zak Kozuchowski, to running the show here at GolfWRX as the Editor-in-Chief myself. In my new role, I’m going to help GolfWRX fulfill its fullest potential as the best golf website in existence, and that means making a number of immediate changes, all of which I’ll highlight below.

First, a look back. Over a decade ago, GolfWRX started as a small community golf forum for golfers to discuss golf equipment, courses, instruction, rules, bargains, and everything else golf related. The forums continue to grow everyday, and they’re stronger than ever with over 250,000 members who are the most knowledgable and passionate golfers on the planet. They also helped us determine the Best Driver of 2018. Additionally, sometime around 2011, Kozuchowski took GolfWRX.com from simply a community golf forum to a golf media powerhouse by adding a front page section of the website, equipped with ultra-professional editorial. He built a team of Featured Writers — consisting of some of the biggest names in the golf industry — to help produce content that readers love and need. Since 2013, I’ve been helping Zak run the site by writing/producing original content myself, and working with the Featured Writer team. Currently averaging over 1.8 million unique readers per month, GolfWRX has been doing just fine. But I believe so strongly in the GolfWRX brand that I don’t want to settle for “just fine.” I believe we have more to offer, and I want every golfer in the world to garner entertainment or knowledge from our website.

As such, and building upon the foundation that is GolfWRX.com and the forums, I’ve been empowered by the “powers that be” at GolfWRX — you know, the guys who cut paychecks — to grow and shape the best golf website on the Internet.

So what does that mean going forward? Well, that’s what I wanted to discuss.

Here at GolfWRX, we’ve always been great at telling stories through the written word and images, and we will continue to do so with our Featured Writers team and legion of golf writers who love and know the game of golf. But after taking over the editorial direction of the website, I also wanted to help give GolfWRX a voice and a face. There are so many amazing people in the world of golf, and I wanted to provide platforms for us to help them tell their stories… to provide our readers the chance to see how golf clubs are made, how courses are designed, why professionals play certain equipment, and so much more. I wanted to bring readers where they’ve never been and hear from the people they’ve never heard from. Here at GolfWRX, we have the opportunity to speak with amazing people and play golf at amazing courses, and it’s about time the GolfWRX readers got to enjoy those experiences with us.

Therefore, we’re implementing our own original video and radio initiatives.

On the video-end of the spectrum, GolfWRX has recently hired Johnny Wunder full-time to the GolfWRX Staff. He’s a Hollywood producer (check out his new film Josie, starring Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones, that was recently in select theaters across the country!) and is also the new Director of Original Content at GolfWRX. If you’ve enjoyed the Bob Parsons interview, Paige interview, PXG Gen2 Editor’s Journal, or how PXG irons get built, you have Mr. Wunder to thank. Also coming soon are experiences with Mike Taylor at Artisan Golf, David Edel, Bert Lamar of Iliac Golf, the Criquet Golf team in Austin, a short game series with Gabe Hjertstedt, a new fashion series and much more. We’re extremely excited to bring our own original content to the world, and help highlight the people in golf who we think deserve a platform. See the things you’ve never seen, go places you’ve never gone, and meet people you’ve never met; that’s what we want to do with our new GolfWRX original video content. We truly hope you enjoy it, and learn a lot from the content we produce.

We’ve also started three great podcasts — the “19th Hole with host Michael Williams,” “Two Guys Talkin’ Golf,” and “Gear Dive” — with plans to expand in the very near future. Check all of them out here on SoundCloud, or here on iTunes.

The 19th Hole is hosted by Michael Williams, who was the PGA Mediaperson of the Year in 2014 and is a longtime titan in both golf media and radio in general; he has produced and hosted shows on CBS Radio, Fox Sports Radio and Voice of America. Michael is a true professional, knowledgeable golfer, and knows how to conduct one heck of an interview. So far on the show, his guests have included Greg Norman, Bob Vokey, Rees Jones, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Scott Van Pelt, Byron Scott, Michael Breed, Louis Oosthuizen, Jim Nantz, Roger Cleveland, Mike Taylor, and many more.

Two Guys Talkin’ Golf (TG2), is hosted by equipment expert Brian Knudson and myself, a former Division I golfer and GolfWRX Editor. Together, we discuss all things golf, but mostly focus on golf equipment… and the occasional hot take. TG2 welcomes guests on the show as well, ranging from GolfWRX forum members to club builders to Tour professionals to caddies. If you’re hungry for more equipment knowledge and high-level golf conversation, TG2 is your type of podcast.

The third, and all-new podcast, is called “Gear Dive,” hosted by Johnny Wunder. What you can expect is a weekly podcast where Wunder interviews anyone who’s anyone “in the know” of golf equipment… and he’s going deep. To give you an idea, his first guest was legendary clubmaker Larry Bobka who made Tiger Woods’ old Titleist irons.

Also, as I discussed before, GolfWRX is great with telling stories via the written word. To make sure we continue to do so, we’ve hired Ben Alberstadt who’s been writing for GolfWRX for over 5 years now. He was previously a freelance journalist who worked with a variety of media and news outlets, and he now wears the GolfWRX hat full time. I cannot be more excited to have him aboard the ship because he’s a true, hard-working journalist and he’s great at telling a story in his own unique style. If you’ve read any of his stuff, you know what I mean.

And as for me, I promise to continue providing GolfWRX readers with the content they want and need to read/hear/see on a daily basis. It’s my duty to help our readers be the most knowledgable golfers and golf buyers, and be entertained while learning more about the sport we all love. I simply love GolfWRX and our readers/listeners/viewers, and I want you to have the best website of all time to visit every day… a website to be part of and proud of.

What do I ask from you GolfWRX readers? Your feedback! If we write a bad story, tell us why you think it’s bad. If we publish a video you like, tell us why in the comments or on social media. If you love the new podcast, tell us that you loved it and support by subscribing. (If you want all of our podcasts transcribed, we’re working on it!) We want to have the best website in the world, and we want to provide information to golfers in the way they want to consume it. We care deeply about your opinion. GolfWRX began as a forum community, and we will always be a community. Personally, I was a GolfWRX reader myself before ever writing for the site. So was Alberstadt and Williams and Knudson and Wunder. We love golf and we love GolfWRX. We want to see it thrive, and you, the readers, are a huge part of that success.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this letter, and I hope you continue to be a GolfWRX reader and participant. And if you do, make sure to tell your golfing buddies how much you love the site… in real life or on social media. The more we grow, the better stories and podcasts and videos we can create. I love and appreciate the opportunity to be your GolfWRX Editor, and I won’t let you down!

 

Hit em between the tree line,

Andrew Tursky

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Zurich Classic of New Orleans

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Just as in 2017, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans will once again provide a change in format for the players this week. Players will team up once more at TPC Louisiana for a combination of Best Ball (Rounds 1 and 3) and Alternate Shot (Rounds 2 and 4). Unfortunately, the change in format means that there is no DraftKings this week.

The course is long at over 7,400 yards, but it’s also very generous off the tee. TPC Louisiana offers the opportunity to go low, and players took advantage last year despite the inclement weather conditions. It took a Monday playoff to separate them, but eventually Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt pipped Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown by making birdie on the fourth playoff hole to take the title after both teams had posted 27-under par in regulation.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson 7/1
  • Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay 12/1
  • Justin Thomas/Bud Cauley 14/1
  • Bubba Watson/Matt Kuchar 14/1
  • Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer 14/1
  • Jon Rahm/Wesley Bryan 16/1
  • Rafa Cabrera Bello/Sergio Garcia 22/1

For the first time, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar (14/1) will team up for this event. Last year, Watson played alongside J.B Holmes. The two performed well, finishing in a tie for fifth place. TPC Louisiana has been a course that has suited Watson’s game over the years, his prodigious length being a significant factor. Along with his T-5 in 2017, Watson has a victory and three other top-20 finishes at the course when the event was an individual stroke-play tournament.

While Watson can be feast or famine at times, Kuchar is Mr. Consistent. He hasn’t missed a cut in over a year, and he has been a top-10 machine over the past few years on the PGA Tour. Despite this, Kuchar hasn’t been able to convert many of his top-10 finishes into wins, but playing alongside Watson this week — who has already notched two victories in 2018 — may help his cause. Over their last 24 rounds, Watson ranks third for Strokes Gained-Off the Tee and eighth in Strokes Gained Total. Over the same period, Kuchar has been predictably consistent, ranking in the top third in the field in every major Strokes Gained category. It’s an intriguing partnership, with Watson’s explosiveness combined with Kuchar’s consistency, and it’s a cocktail that should prove to be a formidable force at TPC Louisiana.

Two men with the hot hand coming into this event are fellow Americans, Jimmy Walker and Sean O’Hair (25/1). Last week at the Valero Texas Open both men excelled, posting the highest finishes of their year thus far. Walker finished solo 4th, while O’Hair grabbed a T-2. It’s the pairs first time playing TPC Louisiana together, but Walker has some good course form to lean on. Back in 2012 and 2013, he posted back-to-back top-20 finishes, which shows that TPC Louisiana is a course that fits his game. Accuracy off the tee has never been Walker’s strength, but the generous fairways may be one of the reasons that he has performed well at this course.

O’Hair has been in good form as of late. The Texan has three top-15 finishes in his last six events, and last week he recorded his highest Strokes Gained Total at an event in years. Walker also seems to have turned a corner with his game. Along with his excellent performance last week, he managed a top-20 finish at the Masters, and his Strokes Gained-Total at the Valero was his highest since his 2016 PGA Championship victory. With both men coming off their best performances in a long time, they should be confident. The duo looks to be a decent value to mount a challenge this week.

Last year’s runners-up Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown (40/1) are hard to ignore at their price this week. Brown has struggled mightily for form in 2018, missing six cuts out of 11 events played so far this year, but the prospect of playing alongside Kisner may be the boost that Brown’s 2018 is needing.

Kisner’s form has been strong as of late. He backed up his runner-up finish at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play with a T-28 at Augusta before grabbing a T-7 at the RBC Heritage. At Harbour Town, Kisner’s iron play was especially sharp, with his Strokes Gained-Approaching the Greens total being the highest since the Memorial last year. Despite Brown’s slump, in a highly tricky format to predict, the pair showed enough chemistry last year and an ability to excel in the format, which is enough for me to consider their price a little undervalued this week.

Recommended Plays

  • Bubba Watson/Matt Kuchar 14/1
  • Jimmy Walker/Sean O’Hair 25/1
  • Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown 40/1
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Podcasts

Gear Dive: Legendary club builder Larry Bobka speaks on Tiger’s old Titleist irons

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Legendary club builder Larry Bobka joins us in the first episode of our new podcast called “Gear Dive,” hosted by Johnny Wunder, GolfWRX’s Director of Original Content. Gear Dive is a deep look into the world of golf equipment, and Wunder will be interviewing the craftsman, the reps and the players behind the tools that make up the bags of the best golfers in the world.

Bobka, our first guest, is a former Tour rep and club builder involved in some of the most important clubs of the past 25 years. From his days at Wilson Golf working with legends such as Payne Stewart, Hale Irwin and Bernhard Langer, he transitioned into the Golden Age of Titleist/Acushnet building clubs for Tiger Woods, Davis Love, David Duval and Brad Faxon. He currently runs Argolf where he builds and fits handmade putters for Tour players and amateurs alike. He’s one of the Godfather’s of modern golf equipment.

Skip to 45:30 for the discussion about Tiger’s Titleist irons.

Check out our podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

What do you think of the new podcast? Leave your feedback in the comments below!

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