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Q&A: Mickelson on his career goals, why he won’t be running for office

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You can wear out a dictionary looking for adjectives that describe Phil Mickelson. Mesmerizing. Galvanizing. Polarizing. Agonizing. But he will never be accused of being boring.

With 42 PGA Tour wins and five majors to his credit, Mickelson is one of the most accomplished and most popular golfers ever to play. The soon to be 47-year-old Hall of Famer (his birthday falls during this year’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills) is still contending on a Tour that is increasingly dominated by players young enough to be his son.

Mickelson sat down with GolfWRX for a little one on one during his stop to promote The Greenbrier Classic. The July PGA Tour event is making its return after a one-year hiatus due to a catastrophic flood that left the course and the community at large devastated. In the Q&A, Mickelson talks about his commitment to The Greenbrier, his family, and his quest for the final leg of golf’s career Grand Slam.

Michael Williams: So let’s start off with talking about The Greenbrier and this tournament. What’s special about this place, and what’s special about this tournament?

Phil Mickelson: The tournament itself is being played on one of the classic great golf courses (The Old White Course), so right there it’s got a unique catch. But what makes the Greenbrier so great, whether you’re a PGA Tour pro or whether you’re somebody from the East Coast bringing your family down here for a vacation or for the tournament, is this. The greatest moments in life are those spontaneous moments that you spend with your family, and the Greenbrier provides more spontaneous fun moments for a family than anywhere. There’s so many things to do here, from fly fishing and golf and tennis and all these fun things, that you end up having moments, having memories, that last a lifetime. And they’re formed here because of all the activities you can do together as a family.

And you’ve been a big supporter of this. Do you have a house here? 

We have a lot, and we’re building a home. This is a place where we want to spend time with not just our kids now, who are in high school, but ultimately our grandkids in a short time. This is a place where, again, you want to have those family moments.

Let’s talk a little bit about you and how you’re playing this year. Do you feel like you’re close to winning? If so, how close?

Well, the reason I feel like it’s close is that I’ve played at a very consistent level. I’ve played 14 events. I’ve made all 14 cuts, but I’ve only had a few top-10 finishes, and I’ve had almost all top-30 finishes, which means that I’m right there on the precipice of being in contention and winning, but I’m not quite putting it all together. One area has been lacking each week, whether it’s driving the ball and iron shots have been great but I haven’t putted well, like the last weekend at the Memorial. Or I’m putting great, but I hit a couple of stray tee shots or what have you. I haven’t put it all together in one week. But I’ve actually been enjoying this challenge. I’m playing better than I have in the last three or four years, even though I haven’t won in the last three or four years, and I know that it’s close. I know what it feels like to win. I know what my game needs to be for me to win. I’m playing at that level, but it’s that last little piece of putting it all together for a week, and I’m actually enjoying the challenge of doing that.

Do you feel like a player has to play better than he used to if he wants to win on Tour? Do you absolutely have to be on top of your game to win?

I think so, because the players today have such length and power and the ability to dominate a golf course that they end up making a lot of birdies. So out of all these 30, 40 young kids that hit the ball a mile and make a lot of birdies, somebody’s going to get hot that week, and so that somebody needs to be me to keep up pace. You can’t get by just hanging in there. You have to go attack the golf course and dominate it if you’re going to win.

You were diagnosed in 2010 with psoriatic arthritis. How has that changed your approach to the game and to life?

Yes, I was diagnosed in 2010, and it was a big change. But it forced me to take responsibility for my health and my fitness. I’m down now 25 pounds from my peak. I don’t eat a lot of the fast food and sugar that I used to eat. I drink lots of water instead of soda. All of that helps me to manage the condition. When I started out, I was being treated once a week and now it’s down to once a month. I feel great, and long term I don’t think the condition is going to affect what I accomplish on the course. All in all, being diagnosed was kind of a blessing in disguise.

You have not been ranked, I don’t believe, a single week as No. 1 (in the Official World Golf Rankings) in your career.

That’s right.

But you have balance in your life. This whole decision about — and we in the media have been over it many times with you — not attending the U.S. Open this year for your daughter’s graduation is about that balance. So you don’t have the one thing, but you do have the other thing. Was being No. 1 ever a specific goal for you?

PM: Sure.

What would you have done different to make that happen?

Of course it was a goal, and I had an opportunity there a couple of times, when had I won that particular week or whatnot, where I could’ve done it and I just didn’t. But that’s not the end-all of life. I’ve had a pretty good career.

“Pretty good” is one way to put it.

I just happened to play against the greatest player of all time, and I have fallen short on that front. If you compare my career to Tiger, it’s a failure, but if you compare it to just about anybody else, it’s a success. More than that, though, I love what I do. I love who I do it with, the people I get to share it with, and the time I’ve had playing this great game. So I wouldn’t change anything about it.

So you’re a pretty smart guy and a pretty personable guy, and it seems like these days smart, personable guys, including our friend (Greenbrier Resort owner and West Virginia Governor) Jim Justice seem to run for political office. Any of that in your future?

No, it’s not for me, and the reason is all the things that occur in politics — there’s a lot of dinners, there’s a lot of functions to go to — are things that I don’t enjoy. What I do enjoy is playing golf, and I do enjoy being outside. I enjoy spending time with family. I enjoy spending time with friends. What I don’t enjoy doing is multiple dinners and functions and congregations and meetings and so forth. That’s not what I enjoy. I grew up on a golf course. I grew up outside. That’s what I enjoy and those types of interactions. So at this point in my life, I’m fortunate enough to do things that I do enjoy and not that I don’t.

Now, I have a lot of respect for Mr. Justice, and the reason I have such respect for him is that he’s getting nothing out of this politically. Becoming a governor does nothing for him. He has a great quality of life. He’s a billionaire. He’s run multiple companies. He’s doing it because he genuinely wants to help the lives of West Virginians. He’s doing it because he has the knowledge base from his past business experience to turn a state around and run it properly. Very few politicians have any type of business acumen.

In Singapore, you have to own and operate a business for 10 years before you’re allowed into politics, but that’s not the case here in the U.S. People get into politics without ever doing anything, and so they don’t know how to run a business. A government, whether it’s a state or the United States government, is one of the biggest businesses, and Jim Justice has that type of experience to do that. For him to run for office, to become governor, there is no self-motivation here. He gets nothing out of that, other than, because his heart is so big, he wants to help West Virginians have a better quality of life, have better jobs, have better healthcare, have better opportunities, and I just have the ultimate respect for somebody like that.

They’re gonna take you away from me in about one minute, so let me get two quick questions in. With you not in the field, do you feel comfortable naming a favorite, your favorite to win?

I think Bubba Watson’s gonna be a huge favorite because he lives here, and I think that having that, even though the course is pretty…

I meant the U.S. Open, not the Greenbrier Classic!

Oh, the U.S. Open.

Yes.

I don’t know who to pick for the U.S. Open because I have not been to Erin Hills. I don’t know who a favorite is. It favors kind of the hot hand, the hot player, I would guess, would be in contention, but I don’t know who I would end up picking.

I played it. I didn’t do well.

No, but you’re not even in the field. You’re like me. You can’t win if you don’t play.

Yeah, I missed the qualifier. Last question. I always ask this question of all-time greats and I get some surprising answers. What would you rather win the Grand Slam of golf, an Oscar, the Nobel Prize, or a $50 million lottery?

Well, the only one that is appealing to me at all is the Grand Slam of Golf, and I’m one win away with the U.S. Open. That’s the only thing that, out of the things that you named, that is something that is appealing to me.

Go out and get her. I know we won’t see you in the U.S. Open this year, but we look forward to seeing you out there for many others.

Thanks.

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Bob Jones

    Jun 9, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Anyone who thinks that a government is really a business has no idea about how governments of necessity must operate. What an idiot.

    • Michael

      Jun 9, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      So Phil is an idiot because you decided so based on that statement about businessmen and holding office? I think you should look in the mirror before the next time you call someone an idiot.

  2. freeze

    Jun 9, 2017 at 7:25 am

    really deep interview learn alot about phil, wow great stuff

  3. ooffa

    Jun 9, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Run for office? How? Is he going to say “sorry I can’t make it to that critical budget meeting I have to go to my kids dance recital”? The kind of flippant attitude he has towards his job won’t fly when the taxpayers are footing the bill!

    • freeze

      Jun 9, 2017 at 11:12 am

      Lets run for office and have my private exposed. From betting to taxes to whats in between.

  4. Duk Koo Kim

    Jun 9, 2017 at 6:33 am

    and a rich white guy at that…….allegedly. tax isha’s could be a problem as well. enough overweight

    gray dudes in Washington at this time.

  5. Frankie

    Jun 8, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    To the last question, Phil should’ve replied “You’re a smart guy, right?”

  6. Brian

    Jun 8, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Phil’s a damned dirty republican, anyway. We don’t need more of them in office.

    • Tom1

      Jun 8, 2017 at 11:06 pm

      he hangs his underware out on the clothes line to dry just like all the rest of us.

  7. TheCityGame

    Jun 8, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    If only the US could be more like Singapore.

    • baddomes

      Jun 8, 2017 at 4:56 pm

      Dumb. Who are you, anyway?

      • George

        Jun 9, 2017 at 12:29 am

        The US needs to base its political structure like that of singapores. Seems like the “business man” in American politics is doing great right now……..

  8. JR

    Jun 8, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Another bozo with the “government should be run like a buisness” crap

    • ROY

      Jun 8, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      Another bozo with no understanding of the concept of “limited resources”

  9. Markallister

    Jun 8, 2017 at 11:19 am

    i do not like the golfer mickelson.

    • BZ

      Jun 8, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      Because he is TEAM TIGER!

    • Tom1

      Jun 8, 2017 at 11:08 pm

      don’t corner then try to tame a rattle snake…lol just go with the fact they are wild and angry.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches betting preview: Grinders fancied to survive tough PGA National test

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After finishing the West Coast swing and making a pit stop in Mexico, the PGA TOUR heads to PGA National to begin its Florida swing and play the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches. The event was previously called the “Honda Classic”.

The tournament will be a significant challenge for golfers, as PGA National is one of the most difficult courses on the PGA TOUR.

PGA National is a 7,054-yard par 71 and features Bermudagrass greens.  Originally a Tom Fazio design, it was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus. The course features the infamous “Bear Trap” on holes 15-17, three of the toughest holes on TOUR. Wind tends to play a factor, which makes the scoring even more challenging.

The field is solid and much stronger than we saw last year with the event being directly after two signature events. Some notable players in the field include Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, Shane Lowry, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Min Woo Lee, Russell Henley and Gary Woodland. 

Past Winners at PGA National

  • 2023: Chris Kirk (-14)
  • 2022: Sepp Straka (-10)
  • 2021: Matt Jones (-12)
  • 2020: Sungjae Im (-6)
  • 2019: Keith Mitchell (-9)
  • 2018: Justin Thomas (-8)
  • 2017: Rickie Fowler (-12)
  • 2016: Adam Scott (-9)
  • 2015: Padraig Harrington (-6)

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value). 

5 Key Stats for PGA National

Let’s take a look at five key metrics for PGA National to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes Gained: Approach has been far and away the biggest indicator of the winner at PGA National. Hitting the target is especially important with all of the water at the course.

Total SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Tom Hoge (+1.08) 
  2. Mathieu Pavon (+1.07)
  3. Chesson Hadley (+.68)
  4. Michael Kim (+.67) 
  5. Adam Svensson (+.66)

2. Strokes Gained: Putting Bermuda (Florida)

As we enter the Florida swing, players will have to adjust to the Florida Bermudagrass greens, which favors some golfers who are more accustomed to playing the surface over others.

Strokes Gained: Putting Bermuda (Florida) over past 24 Rounds:

  1. Beau Hossler (+1.05)
  2. Matt Fitzpatrick (+.87)
  3. Sungjae Im (+.81)
  4. Ben Martin (+.75)
  5. Denny McCarthy (+.71)

3. Strokes Gained Total: Florida

This stat will bring in players who’ve played their best golf in the state of Florida.

Strokes Gained Total: Florida Over Past 36 Rounds:

  1. Rory McIlroy (+1.72)
  2. Matt Fitzpatrick (+1.62)
  3. Shane Lowry (+1.44)
  4. Sungjae Im (+1.32) 
  5. Chris Kirk (+1.30)

4. Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

Historically, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking has been much more indicative of success at PGA National than Strokes Gained: Short Game. The difficult track rewards a solid tee-to-green game, which is the key to avoiding trouble.

The winning score will likely stay close to single digits, so an extremely hot putter isn’t all that predictive. 

SG: BS Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Corey Conners (+21.1)
  2. Jhonnatan Vegas (+19.5)
  3. Adam Svensson (+19.3)
  4. Mathieu Pavon (+18.6) 
  5. Tom Hoge (+18.3) 

5. Strokes Gained: Difficult or Very Difficult Courses

PGA National is one of the most difficult courses on the PGA TOUR. Including this stat will highlight some players who thrive when scoring is difficult.

Strokes Gained: Difficult Courses Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Rory McIlroy (+2.62)
  2. Matt Fitzpatrick (+1.59) 
  3. Tom Kim (+1.59) 
  4. Jake Knapp (+1.55)
  5. Shane Lowry (+1.34)

Cognizant Classic in the Palm Beaches Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (27%), SG: Putting Florida Bermuda (15.3%), SG: Florida 15.3%), SG: Ball Striking (27%) and SG: Difficult Scoring(15.3%).

  1. Chris Kirk
  2. Daniel Berger
  3. Jhonnatan Vegas
  4. Corey Conners
  5. Adam Svensson
  6. Rory McIlroy
  7. Tom Hoge
  8. Shane Lowry
  9. Sepp Straka
  10. Kevin Streelman

2024 Cognizant Classic in the Palm Beaches Picks

(All odds are the best available at the time of writing)

Cameron Young +2200 (BetMGM)

Cameron Young has yet to break out with a PGA Tour win, but PGA National is a good course for the former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year to showcase his elite driving ability. In his past 24 rounds, Young ranks 1st in Total Driving.

PGA National isn’t the longest course, but with water lurking everywhere, it helps to hit approach shots with higher lofted clubs. Bombers such as Rory McIlroy, Keith Mitchell, and Brooks Koepka have thrived at the course in the recent years, and Young could look to replicate their play style here.

Young has had a strong start to his 2024 season, finishing in a tie for 8th at TPC Scottsdale and a tie for 16th at Riviera. In those two starts, he gained significant strokes on the field both off the tee and on approach. He also finished 16th in his debut at the Honda Classic in 2022. With two additional top-13 finishes at Bay Hill, the 26-year-old has shown he likes playing in Florida.

With the fields in 2024 weaker than in recent seasons, Young is one of the best players teeing it up this week and has the talent to come out on top.

Shane Lowry +3500 (DraftKings)

Shane Lowry has been very quiet this season, but he’ll now kick off the Florida swing, which is the part of the PGA Tour schedule that he’s had most success at over the course of his PGA Tour career.

In his past eight starts in the state of Florida, the Irishman has finished in the top-13 five times, including a runner-up at PGA National in 2022 and a tie for 5th here last year. The former Open champion is a resident of Jupiter, Florida and is extremely comfortable playing on these Bermudagrass greens.

Lowry is typically amongst the favorites at PGA National, but this year is being offered at a bit of a discount due to his underwhelming start to the season. If the course plays difficult, which it typically does, there are few players I’d rather have than Shane Lowry on my betting card.

Byeong Hun An +4000 (DraftKings)

I’ve bet Byeong Hun An a few times this year and it almost paid off when the South Korean lost in agonizing fashion in a playoff to Grayson Murray at the Sony Open. Given his current form and excellent course fit, I feel compelled to give the affable An one more shot at PGA National this week.

An is a great driver of the ball and ranks 17th in the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and 4th in Carry Distance. With danger lurking on almost every hole, longer hitters will have the advantage coming in with shorter irons. While not typically the most reliable putter, Benny ranks 18th in the field in his past eight rounds on Bermudagrass.

In addition to his strong start to the season, An has also had plenty of success at PGA National. He finished in a tie for 4th at the course in 2020 and tied for 5th in 2018. If he can avoid the water, we may finally get to celebrate a Benny An victory this week.

Corey Conners +5000 (FanDuel)

On a difficult course that produces relatively high scores such as PGA National, players who are accurate both off the tee and on approach will have the advantage. In his past 24 rounds, the Canadian ranks 4th in Total Driving and 2nd in Strokes Gained: Off the tee.

Conners is another player who has thrived in Florida. In his past seven starts in the state, he’s finished in the top 21 five times. The course history at PGA National hasn’t been great, but I am willing to overlook that in favor of his overall form in the state and his apparent course fit.

A few weeks ago, at Riviera, Conners’ signature iron play came back to life as he gained 5.04 strokes on the field on approach. If he can make some putts on Bermudagrass, which has been his favorite surface to date, there’s no reason why he can’t contend at PGA National this week.

Alex Noren +5000 (FanDuel)

Despite never having won on the PGA Tour, Alex Noren has racked up 11 total wins professionally, and has come close many times in the United States. The Swede has played on a winning European Ryder Cup team (2018) and has won big events in Europe such as the BMW PGA Championship and British Masters.

Noren is a tremendous wind player who has enjoyed plenty of success at PGA National throughout his career. He finished in a tie for 5th at this event in 2022 and finished 3rd back in 2018. Noren ranks 15th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting on Florida Bermudagrass and 20th in three putt avoidance on the surface.

If the course plays as difficult as expected, the 41-year-old is the type of grinder who can contend on one of his favorite tracks.

Matt Wallace +10000 (FanDuel)

Matt Wallace demonstrated his ability to play well on a tough Florida track at last year’s Valspar Championship, where he finished in a tie for 7th. The Englishman has also played reasonably well at PGA National, finishing 29th last year and tied for 20th in 2019.

Wallace played well last week in Mexico and was more involved than his T33 finish would indicate. He struggled in round 4, shooting 74, but indicated that he was “playing for the win” which brought a lot more trouble into play. Wallace is one of the better wind players in the field and has shown winning upside in the past.

The 33-year-old is a grinder with winning upside.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi: 2024 Mexico Open First Round Leader picks

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The Mexico Open begins on Thursday at beautiful Vidanta Vallarta. The tournament will have a full field this week with most of the big names on the PGA Tour taking the week off.

In the past two editions of the tournament, there have been seven first-round leaders or co-leaders. Of the seven, six have come from the morning wave. At first glance, there certainly looks to be an advantage to having an early tee time this week in Mexico but with such a small sample size I won’t put too much stock in that and take a balanced approach.

As of Tuesday, the wind doesn’t look as if it will play a factor at all during round one. It will be about hot and sunny for most of the day with wind gusts never exceeding 7 MPH.

This week, I used the Betsperts Rabbit Hole to see each players floor/ceiling. You can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value).

Mexico Open First-Round-Leader Selections

Jhonnatan Vegas +6000 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 12:15 p.m. Local Time

After a long injury layoff, it certainly seems as if Jhonnatan Vegas is “back”. In his most recent start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Venezuelan gained 7.2 strokes ball striking, which was his best performance in the category since June of 2022.

Vegas loves playing on Paspalum, and while he struggles with the putter often, he’s been consistent putting on these slow and spongey surfaces. I expect the big man to have a great week in Mexico.

Harry Hall +9000 (BetMGM)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:14 a.m. Local Time

While you wouldn’t expect an Englishman in a flat cap to play his best golf in tropical paradises, that’s certainly been the case for the 24-year-old throughout his career thus far. The 6’4″ UNLV product with a soft touch around the greens has shined in places such as Puerto Rico and Puntacana as well as at Vidanta Vallarta last year.

Hall is a fantastic putter, which never will hurt you in the first-round leader market.

Adrien Dumont de Chassart 100-1 (FanDuel)

First-Round Tee Time: 1:54 p.m. Local Time

Those who have been following me this season know that I’m high on this 23-year-old bomber from Belgium. With off the tee prowess being a major point of emphasis at Vidanta Vallarta, it makes sense to give him another crack at the first-round lead once again this week.

In his most recent start at TPC Scottsdale, ADDC gained 4.0 strokes off the tee.

Fred Biondi 130-1 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:47 a.m. Local Time

Fred Biondi recently won a National Championship as a Florida Gator and has loved playing on coastal courses throughout the early part of his career. In the fall, the Brazilian finished 13th at the Butterfield Bermuda and 23rd at the RSM Classic, with both events having fields either stronger or comparable to this one.

Biondi is a good iron player and putter and should be comfortable playing in Mexico.

Scott Piercy 150-1 (BetMGM)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:25 a.m. Local Time

Scott Piercy got in the field this week after Will Zalatoris withdrew following a strong performance at the Genesis Invitational. Piercy may be well past his prime, but this is the type of event where the 47-year-old has thrived over the years.

Piercy has been prone to fast starts and has finished in the top-5 after the first round 32 times in his career and has been within two of the lead in the first round 45 times. He’s also been great on Paspalum, boasting finishes of 6th at the 2018 OHL, 7th at the 2015 CIMB Classic and 4th at the 2016 OHL.

Sebastian Vazquez 300-1 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 1:21 p.m. Local Time

Sebastian Vasquez is a name that many golf fans won’t be familiar with but has played some good golf in South America over the course of his career. At last year’s Mexico Open, Vazquez shot an opening round 67. At last year’s World Wide Technology Championship at El Cardonal at Diamante in Cabo San Lucas, Vazquez closed his tournament with a Sunday 64, which was just two shots off the round of the day.

The Mexican has been playing this season on the Gira de Golf Profesional Mexicana and doing so relatively well. He also finished 38th at El Cardonal in a pretty strong PGA Tour field. Vazquez could come out and fire a low one while feeling extremely at ease playing in his home country.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 Mexico Open at Vidanta betting preview: Birdie machine ready to notch first PGA Tour title

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Mexico Open at Vidanta! For the third consecutive year, the PGA TOUR heads to beautiful Puerto Vallarta to play the Mexico Open.

The Greg Norman-designed Vidanta Vallarta is a par-71 measuring 7,456 yards. Prior to its inaugural event, the course was extended by over 250 yards to make it PGA TOUR ready, and there were nine new tee boxes and 106 new bunkers added to stiffen the test for the best players in the world.

The course features three par 5s. Also, the par-4 seventh will be drivable for the longer hitters, but the golfers will have to risk taking on some water if they want to go for it.

The field this week will consist of 132 players. Some notable players in the field include Tony Finau, Will Zalatoris, Keith Mitchell, Emiliano Grillo, Taylor Pendrith and Thorbjorn Olesen. 

Past Winners at Vidanta Villarta

  • 2023: Tony Finau (-24)
  • 2022: Jon Rahm (-17)

5 Key Stats For Vidanta Villarta

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value). 

Let’s take a look at five key metrics for Vidanta Vallarta to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their past 24 rounds.

1. Driving Distance

At almost 7,500 yards, Vidanta Villarta is a long par 71. The rough shouldn’t be much of a factor this week, which gives the advantage to the long hitters in the field.

Average Driving Distance Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Alejandro Tosti (+311.2)
  2. Sam Stevens (+310.4)
  3. Cameron Champ (+308.1)
  4. Patrick Rodgers (+305.1)
  5. Vincent Norrman (+304.7)

2. Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

With the course playing long and greens likely being receptive, elite ball strikers should have an advantage more so than a good short game and strong putting.

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Jhonnatan Vegas (+1.10)
  2. Erik Van Rooyen (+.95)
  3. Taylor Pendrith (+.86)
  4. Tony Finau (+.81)
  5. Doug Ghim (+.74)

3. Course History

The first two editions of the event have produced plenty of leaderboard similarity. I’m looking to target players who like the golf course. 

Course History over past 8 rounds:

  1. Tony Finau (+4.05)
  2. Brandon Wu (+3.43)
  3. Davis Riley (+2.94)
  4. Cameron Champ (+2.55)
  5. Patrick Rodgers (+2.41)

4. Strokes Gained: Total in Weak Fields with Easy Scoring Conditions

Last year, the course played extremely easy, and this is one of the weakest fields we will see this year on the PGA Tour. 

SG: TOT Total in Weak Fields with Easy Scoring Conditions Past 24 Rounds

  1. Erik Van Rooyen (+1.84) 
  2. Mackenzie Hughes (+1.69) 
  3. S.H. Kim (+1.43)
  4. Michael Kim (+1.43)
  5. Tyler Duncan (+1.26)

5. Strokes Gained: Total in Caribbean

I’m not exactly sure if this part of Mexico would be considered “Caribbean”, but this statistic brings in all rounds from Corales, the Puerto Rico Open, and the Bermuda Championship, which all have close leaderboard correlation to the Mexico Open. This also brings in courses that feature Paspalum greens.

Strokes Gained: Total in Caribbean over past 24 Rounds

  1. Mackenzie Hughes (+3.14)
  2. Tony Finau (+2.73)
  3. Nicolai Hojgaard (+2.40)
  4. James Hahn (+2.35)
  5. Chad Ramey (+2.05)

The Mexico Open at Vidanta Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — Driving Distance (22%), SG: Ball Striking (28%), SG: Paspalum (16%), SG: Total in Weak Fields with Easy Scoring Conditions (16%) and Strokes Gained: Total in Caribbean (16%)

  1. Taylor Pendrith
  2. Erik Van Rooyen
  3. Carl Yuan
  4. Stephan Jaeger
  5. Mark Hubbard
  6. Matti Schmid
  7. Cameron Champ
  8. Vincent Whaley
  9. Ryan Moore
  10. Michael Kim

Mexico Open Picks

(All listed odds are at the time of writing)

Stephan Jaeger +2800 (BetMGM)

Despite not yet winning an event, Stephan Jaeger has been one of the most prolific birdie makers on the PGA Tour. In the field this season, he ranks 5th in the field in Birdie or Better percentage. 13th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 27th in Driving Distance.

Jaeger has had a tough time closing events while in contention, but his recent T3 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open in a strong field should have helped him build the necessary scar tissue it takes to win on the PGA Tour. He shot a final round 72 at Torrey Pines, which wasn’t a horrible result, but left him two shots behind eventual champion Mathieu Pavon.

In his two starts at the course, Jaeger has finished 15th and 18th. At this point in his career, he’s one of the most talented players in the field and should have what it takes to earn his first PGA Tour victory.

Keith Mitchell +3500 (DraftKings)

Keith Mitchell took last week off after a strong start to his 2024 campaign. He finished in a tie for 9th at the American Express in January and in a tie for 17th in his most recent start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Over his past 24 rounds, Mitchell ranks 12th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 21st in Driving Distance in the field.

When betting on events that feature Paspalum greens, I always look to target players who’ve had some success on the surface before, as it is quite unique. Mitchell hasn’t played in a great deal of those events over the past few seasons but does have a 2nd place finish at the Corales Puntacana Championship in 2018, which is a strong signal that he likes the surface and can take advantage of a weak field.

On a golf course where great drivers of the golf ball have a significant advantage, I’ll happily take a shot on Mitchell who’s gained strokes off the tee in every one of his starts this season.

Taylor Pendrith +3500 (DraftKings)

Over the past few seasons, Taylor Pendrith has been fantastic in the weaker field events on coastal tracks. In the fall, he finished 8th at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship and was 10th a few months ago at the Sony Open in Hawaii. In his past 24 rounds, the Canadian ranks 6th in Strokes Gained: Total in events that have easy scoring conditions and weak fields and 4th in Strokes Gained: Total in the Caribbean.

Vidanta Vallarta is a course where bombers thrive and Pendrith is one of the longer hitters on the PGA Tour. He ranks 19th in the field in Driving Distance as well as 4th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking in his past 24 rounds. He also ranks 2ndin the field in Birdie or Better percentage.

In addition to the obvious course fit, Pendrith is starting to play some good golf of late. He finished 9th at Torrey Pines a few weeks ago and has two top 10’s in his last three starts. With fellow Canadian Nick Taylor winning in Phoenix, the 32-year-old will be motivated to get in the winner’s circle in a year where the Presidents Cup will be played in Canada.

Cameron Champ +6500 (FanDuel)

Cameron Champ has become one of my favorite players to bet in the outright market over the years due to his volatility. In most circumstances, volatility is a bad thing in the gambling world, but in outright betting, it’s a trait that I target. Champ finishes at the bottom of the leaderboard far more often than he finishes at the top, but he wins golf tournaments at a much higher clip than his odds indicate.

One of the courses on Tour that Champ fits the most is Vidanta Vallarta. The 28-year-old absolutely pummels the ball and the course is set up for players who can get it out there off the tee. He ranks 4th in Driving Distance in the field and also ranks 3rd in Strokes Gained: Total for the first two editions of the Mexico Open at Vidanta.

By any metric, Champ is a poor putter on just about every surface, with one notable exception: Paspalum. He gains an average of .4 strokes per event on Paspalum as opposed to losing roughly .3 strokes on other surfaces.

Many will be concerned with Champ’s horrible start to 2024 where he’s missed the cut in all four of his starts. However, last season, Champ missed the cut in eight straight events prior to finishing 8th at the Mexico Open.

Close your eyes and bet it. Embrace the volatility.

Jhonnatan Vegas +8000 (BetRivers)

Jhonnatan Vegas is one of my favorite players to bet on and I’m ecstatic to find a spot on the schedule that should suit the Venezuelan remarkably.

After an injury hiatus, Vegas is back playing consistent golf and has shown some flashes of his ceiling in his most recent start. At the Waste management Phoenix Open, the two-time Olympian finished 22nd and gained 7.2 two strokes ball striking comprised of 3.8 strokes off the tee and 3.2 on approach.

Coastal Paspalum is a surface Vegas has thrived at over the years. The 39-year-old has finishes 2nd (2021 Puerto Rico Open) and 4th (2022 Corales Puntacana) on Paspalum and should be extremely comfortable with the putter this week.

In his past 24 rounds, Vegas ranks 2nd in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking in the field and 22nd in Driving Distance. The big man will be letting it rip off the tee in Mexico this week.

Harry Hall +130000 (BetRivers)

Harry Hall has absolutely feasted on Paspalum greens over the course of his PGA Tour career. The Englishman absolutely loves playing on the coast and a good deal of his best finishes have come on this surface, including the 2023 Puerto Rico Open (7th), the 2023 Mexico Open (10th) 2023 Corales (13th), and the 2022 Great Exuma (19th).

Hall finished 10th at the event last year and arrives after a solid tied for 41st finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. We’ve seen longshots win this season with a hot putter and Hall is one of the best putters in the field.

Adrien Dumont De Chassart +20000 (FanDuel)

Adrien Dumont De Chassart is a young up-and-coming player I’ve committed to betting early in the 2024 season. That approach will certainly come with ebbs and flows but in the end, I am betting on the talent of the 23-year-old.

The Belgian possesses arguably the most desired trait in order to contend this week in Mexico: At his best, he’s an elite talent off the tee. ADDC gained 4.0 strokes off the tee in his last start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and should be able to let his drive loose at Vidanta Vallarta this week.

De Chassart is a proven winner on the Korn Ferry Tour and has the upside to take advantage of a weaker field this week in Mexico.

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