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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship

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The first World Golf Championship of 2018 gets underway this week from just outside Mexico City, as Club de Golf Chapultepec welcomes an elite limited field. The course itself measures more than 7,300 yards, but because of its high altitude it plays far shorter. The heavily tree-lined course makes it imperative to be accurate off the tee this week, and the small undulating greens will mean whoever is to triumph will need to display a very polished short game.

There is a sense that the longer hitters still have a distinct advantage this week, as last year we saw the bombers on Tour have the luxury of taking iron off the tee on the majority of holes. It was Chapultepec’s debut on the PGA Tour, and World No. 1 Dustin Johnson held his nerve to post 14-under par and hold off Tommy Fleetwood to win by one stroke.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Dustin Johnson 6/1
  • Justin Thomas 8/1
  • Jon Rahm 12/1
  • Jordan Spieth 12/1
  • Tommy Fleetwood 18/1
  • Rickie Fowler 18/1
  • Justin Rose 20/1

With a limited field and only last year’s event to guide us in regard to course history, it makes it a challenge to identify the best value of the week…. but the cream often rises to the top in these events. World Golf Championships have been dominated lately by Dustin Johnson, who has won four of the last nine. From the other five, there has only been one winner who was ranked outside the Top-10 in the Official World Golf Rankings the week of the event: Justin Rose (13th) at the WGC-HSBC Champions in November.

There isn’t much that Jordan Spieth (12/1, DK Price $10,500) has yet to achieve in the world of golf, but a WGC is one. Spieth has had a slow beginning to 2018, but there was a huge improvement at the Genesis Open two weeks ago. Now, having regained his touch on the greens at that event, this may be the week that the Texan ends his winless streak. Spieth’s struggles with the flat stick at the opening few events of the year scuppered any chance he had at getting into contention. But at the Genesis Open, he had his best putting display since the Northern Trust back in August. Speaking after the Genesis, he sounded very bullish about the progress he had made.

“I just made some tremendous progress,” Spieth said. “I putted extremely well this week, which is awesome. I feel great about the state of my game going forward — feel like I’m in a great place at this time of the year as we’re starting to head into major season.”

With confidence on the greens, Spieth is always a dangerous prospect, and the rest of his game looks ready to get himself into the thick of things come Sunday. He ranks 11th in this field for Strokes Gained Approaching the Green and fourth for Strokes Gained Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds. With the smaller-than-usual greens in play this week, it’s going to be vital for players to scramble when they inevitably do miss a few more greens than usual. There is arguably nobody better in this regard than Spieth, who sits first in this field for Strokes Gained Around the Green over his last 24 rounds.

Spieth won last year at Pebble Beach, which is also a course that has some of the smallest greens on Tour, and the small greens here can only enhance his chances. He should also be able to lean on his third round here last year, where he shot a course-record 63. In my mind, Spieth has a far greater chance of bagging his first win of 2018 than his price of 12/1 suggests.

My second pick for the week also possesses a fine short game, although it deserted him last week. Rickie Fowler’s (18/1, DK Price $9,800) defense of the Honda Classic last week was disastrous. He failed to find any spark, which resulted in him having the weekend off. Despite this, I think the bookmakers have overreacted slightly and he is a little undervalued. After all, he played very well in Phoenix after missing the cut the week before at The Farmers.

Fowler finished T16 at this event last year, but there were many signs that this could be a course that is kind to Rickie in the coming years. With the altitude being such a big factor, it can often be difficult for players to gauge the distances on their approaches. That wasn’t an issue for Rickie last year, who adjusted excellently. Fowler was second only to Dustin Johnson in both Strokes Gained Approaching the Green and Proximity to the Hole.

On a course where missing the fairway carries a substantial penalty, it’s a good sign that Fowler is 18th on the PGA Tour for Hit Fairway Percentage, ahead of any of the men at the top of the market. While considering he is one of the most consistent putters on Tour, it should be no surprise that Fowler ranks third in this field for Strokes Gained Short Game. The Californian has four wins on the PGA Tour thus far, two of them coming after he had missed the cut the previous week. He is worth backing to do it once more at an attractive price.

My third pick for this week comes from deep in the market. Jason Dufner (80/1, DK Price $7,500) has been impressive to date in 2018, finishing in the Top-20 in three of his four starts. Surprisingly, the quality that has lead to his good form is his putting. Dufner has never been known for his prowess on the greens, yet this season he is 15th on the PGA Tour for Strokes Gained Putting.

Dufner played well here last year, where he finished T23. For an excellent ball striker, Chapultepec should be a good fit. The Ohio native ranks 14th in this field for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, and 11th in Strokes Gained Total over his last 12 rounds. At 80/1, he seems a tad undervalued. It’s worth taking a chance on adding him to some DraftKings lineups in the hopes he can continue his consistent run of good form.

Recommended Plays

  • Jordan Spieth 12/1, DK Price $10,500
  • Rickie Fowler 18/1, DK Price $9,800
  • Jason Dufner 80/1, DK Price $7,500
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Gianni is the Assistant Editor at GolfWRX. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito

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On Spec

On Spec: Rickie Fowler Rev33 irons and more signature golf clubs

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This week’s show is all about signature golf clubs, brought on by the release of the Cobra RF Proto Rev33 irons. From big-name players to historical releases there is a lot to cover from the world of modern equipment.

But before that host, Ryan Barath has something to get off his chest about pro-am golf and TV coverage.

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Opinion & Analysis

“Golfers pay way too much attention to iron lofts” – On Spec podcast

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On this week’s episode of the “On Spec” podcast on the GolfWRX radio network hosted by Ryan Barath, the main focus of the show was on the misconception around fitting irons based on handicap and the focus on iron lofts – AKA “loft jacking”

The goal of the episode was to explain how irons are designed to help optimize the target golfer using a number of factors including lofts, and why it’s more important to focus on final results rather than stock specs.

“The goal should be for your clubs to go the right distance with the right trajectory… golfers focus too much on loft and not dynamics”

You can listen to the full show below, the above quote starts at 22:42

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Opinion & Analysis

Keep your golf body moving at home

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Over the past few months, I’m willing to bet that a lack of golf, limited access to gyms and spending more time at home in sitting positions will likely be having a negative effect on our posture.

This means certain muscles (pecs, abs, hip flexors) getting tight and short, thereby hunching us over, rounding our shoulders forward and tightening our hips. This combination can wreak havoc on our golf swings, particularly our ability to rotate efficiently.

This simple sequence of exercises, performed daily, will help maintain posture and mobility in the key areas that facilitate rotation in our golf swings. You can find these exercises and much more on the Golf Fit Pro app for iOS.

 

1 – Mid Back Massage – 1 x 90 seconds

Using a foam roller or tightly rolled up towel, aim to apply firm pressure through the mid and upper back whilst gently pushing out the rib cage and arching back. Move up and down the roller or towel to target different areas of your spine.

 

2 – Upper Back Extension – 1 x 30 seconds

Using a bench, box or chair, push the chest down toward the floor whilst keeping your abs / core engaged. You should feel this in your mid and upper back.

 

3 – Straight Arm Chest Stretch – 1 x 30 seconds each side

 

Find a wall, post or doorway, place your hand flat with elbow pointing to the floor and arm straight. Gently turn away from your hand until your feel a stretch in your chest and front of your shoulder.

 

4 – Step Up and Turn – 1 x 5 reps each side 

 

In a push up position, move your foot to the outside of your hand (or as close as possible) then rotate your upper torso with arm straight, aiming to point your hand straight up to the ceiling.

 

5 – Back Swing and Follow Through – 1 x 10 reps

Using a piece of rubber tubing or as pictured, the GravityFit TPro, get into your golf set up position pushing out against the tubing. From there turn into your backswing and then into your follow through. Aim to do the majority of the rotation with your torso, keeping your hands in front of your body.

 

You can check out more of Nick’s articles and services here:

Articles
Golf Fit Pro App
Online Training

 

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