The first World Golf Championships event of the 2019 calendar year takes us just outside of Mexico City to the Club de Golf Chapultepec for the WGC – Mexico Championship. This will be the third year that this course plays host to the event, taking the place of Trump National – Doral, which had been the host of this event for many years until…well, you know. The key feature of this course is the elevation at which the course sits, nearly 7,500 feet above sea level. Playing that far above sea level undoubtedly does different things to the ball flight of these players, effectively shrinking the golf course down from its listed 7,345 yards down to something closer to 6,800 yards. Because of this, players will be able to club down off the tee and should be able to find more fairways as the use of drivers is not as paramount as it usually is at the monster courses the Tour stops at on a weekly basis. This brings a entirely different skill set of players into play this week, as the short knockers are able to even the playing field a bit on the bombers. The players that adjust the fastest to the changes that this elevation causes will be at a huge advantage in this tournament.
Being as this is only the third year this course has played host to this event, we are little bit limited on course history information when creating our statistics model this week. For that reason, I’m taking a little bit more of a general approach to my stats model, focusing on more macro-level stats to find the best all-around players for this week’s small field, no cut event. Here are the stats I’m going with this week in creating my model, which I always do with help of Fantasy National, the premier stats provider for DFS golf on the internet today:
Strokes Gained: Approach (30%)
Strokes Gained: Tee To Green (25%)
Birdies or Better Gained (20%)
Strokes Gained: Par 5s (15%)
Greens In Regulation Gained (10%)
As we mentioned above, this is a very select field of 72 golfers this week, half of our usual field size that is around 150 players. In addition, there is no cut this week, so we are assured four rounds out of each of our selections, barring the unforeseen mid-event WD. On a personal note, I tend to back off a bit for these types of events in comparison to the amount I play for a standard Tour event. The variance tends to be a little greater in these competitions due to the guaranteed rounds, so while I will obviously be playing, I will have less of my bankroll exposed than I would in normal weeks. But enough of that – who are the picks this week? Here are the players I’m targeting for this week’s WGC – Mexico Championship!
When we get to huge events like this one, we always expect the top end of the pricing to be stacked, but this week is exceptional with all six of the players in this price range being ranked inside the Top 9 in the latest Official World Golf Rankings. To be honest, you probably can’t make a bad choice in this range, but if I’m forced to take one I’m going to save a few dollars and take Bryson DeChambeau ($10,000 DK, $11,500 FD) as my top choice. Five consecutive made cuts to open his 2019 calendar year, with no finish worse than 15th, makes him a strong choice in the current form department. While he has not made an appearance at this event before, he certainly seems like the kind of guy who will be able to make the necessary elevation adjustments to keep his game clicking on all cylinders. Over the last 24 rounds he ranks #9 in my stats model, which doesn’t seem great but when we note that it is the third highest among the $10K range players (behind JT and Rory) I feel a little better about him from a stats perspective coming in. My affinity for Bryson is well documented, but here I think he is the right choice for many reasons to contend for a championship.
If you can find a few players in the lower price ranges that you like you would be able to pay up for Justin Thomas ($11,800 DK, $12,000 FD), and who could blame you. #1 in my stats model over the last 24 rounds, Thomas has started his 2019 with four consecutive made cuts, three of those resulting in Top 3 finishes. Coming off of back-to-back Top 5 finishes at this event over the last two years will give him some positive vibes after the heartbreak of blowing a big lead last week at Riviera. No one would be surprised if Thomas came out and won this event by 5 shots, and no one would blame you for paying up to get the highest priced player in the field this week either.
The guy that I think will be the lowest owned in this range will be Jon Rahm ($10,700 DK, $11,700 FD), which could make him a really strong GPP/Tournament option this week. Rahm has made five straight cuts to open 2019, amazingly finishing no worse than 10th in any of those starts. From a stats perspective the only way to split hairs on Rahm is to look at his approach numbers in his last three events, two of which he lost strokes to the field (albeit a very small number of strokes) on his approach shots. He finished 3rd here in the inaugural event in 2017 and 20th last year, but his name just doesn’t carry the clout of names like JT, DJ, Fowler and Rory, making him a really good GPP option in my opinion at the top of the board.
The $9K range is very tight this week with only five players being priced in the spectrum. I’m going to go back to the well again this week with Hideki Matsuyama ($9,000 DK, $10,900 FD) as my favorite play in this category. #5 in my stats model over his last 24 rounds, he ranks number #1 in this field in SG: Approach and SG: T2G, which further proves what we have been witnessing with our own eyes over the last few weeks – he is absolutely striping the ball entering this event. His ball striking has been JT-esque over his last four events, three of which have resulted in Top 15 finishes, and while he doesn’t have a great course history at this event (25th in ‘17), I’m willing to back him again strictly based on how he is hitting the ball entering the WGC.
I don’t think that there is any question that the lowest owned guy in this price range is going to be the guy currently ranked #2 in the world – Brooks Koepka ($9,800 DK, $11,300 FD). We haven’t seen Brooks play a Tour event since the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January but he has been playing golf elsewhere around the world. Two stops on the European Tour in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia have him casually entering this week’s event a bit under the radar. He is the perfect GPP play this week – he doesn’t pop in anyone’s stats model, has a terrible course history (48th in ‘17) and his current form pales in comparison to the other big names up top this week, and for that reason many will be off of him. I think he is worth a flyer in GPPs this week, especially with the small field size and depressed ownership for the #2 ranked player in the world.
For the record – and this could come back to burn me – I’m completely off both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson this week. I know Phil is the defending champion at this event and Tiger has shown us flashes of his glory days over the last few weeks, but I’m just nervous about them bouncing back after the marathon for the field that was last week’s Genesis Open. Tiger admitted that he was out of gas at the end of his round Sunday and Phil’s Sunday performance would lead you to believe the same for him. I’ll lean towards the younger guys in the field to bounce back quicker than these two legends this week in Mexico.
This week is all about riding the hot hand for me, staying on guys that have shown me in recent weeks that their game is in the kind of form you need to contend in an All-Star field like we have here. The guy that I like the best in this range based on that criteria is Marc Leishman ($8,700 DK, $10,800 FD). Four straight cuts made to start 2019 have resulted in three Top 4 finishes so far this year, including a T4 last week at Riviera. #2 in this field in Birdies of Better Gained and #3 in SG: Par 5s over his last 24 rounds in this field leads me to believe he will keep giving himself chances – and that form coming in is something that I simply cannot pass up.
A player that might be a little under the radar in this range that I like a lot this week is Sergio Garcia ($8,000 DK, $10,000 FD). He won’t jump off the page on anyone’s stats model because he has spent most of his time overseas to start the season, but he came into last week’s Genesis Open with two Top 7 finishes in his last three starts, and would probably have posted another one last week if he could have made anything on the greens. He was 7th in the field in SG: Approach at Riviera last week – if he can continue to give himself chances here, where he has had success in the past (7th in ‘18, 12th in ‘17) I like him to be on the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.
Chalk Central has set up camp in the $7K range this week with probably the two highest owned players in the entire field being found here – and I really like both of them as well this week. It’s tough to go against Gary Woodland ($7,900 DK, $10,100 FD) at the WGC. #2 overall in my stats model this week, Woodland is a guy that some DFSers will have forgotten about as we haven’t seen him since Phoenix, where he finished T7th. That was his third Top 10 finish to start 2019 and while he doesn’t have great course history at this event (50th in ‘18, 38th in ‘17) he does have experience here and it definitely playing better now than he ever has. He will be really tough to pass up at this price this week.
The other guy that I think will garner a lot of ownership this week is Matt Kuchar ($7,700 DK, $9,800 FD). Five cuts made in a row, including a win early in January at the Sony Open in Hawaii, looks like vintage Kuchar is ready for another great finish this week. Kuchar is #3 overall in my stats model over the last 24 rounds heading into this event but has a very similar narrative to Woodland – great current form, lackluster course history (58th in ‘18, 20th in ‘17). But just as I did with Woodland, I’m willing to overlook the course history based on his current form and continue to roster him through this event.
One deeper flyer that I’ll be throwing into a couple of GPP lineups this week is Matt Wallace ($7,300 DK, $8,800 FD). Almost exclusively a European Tour player, Wallace is a candidate, in my opinion, to be the next breakout star for European golf. He comes in with two top 16 finishes in his first three starts of the season on the Euro Tour, including a 2nd place finish in a strong field at the Dubai Desert Classic. He’ll be off the radar of most players this week, but a guy that you’ll want to get out in front of long term before the rest of the casual DFS golf community catches up!
The $6K range is always tough to find players that can actually provide any sort of benefit to your team on a weekly basis, but this week it is especially tough in my opinion. The safest play in the range for me is Emiliano Grillo ($6,900 DK, $9,400 FD), who hasn’t missed a cut since last year’s Open Championship but has only notched six Top 30 finishes in his last 14 events, limiting his upside in my opinion. He does rank out as the best in my stats model amongst the $6K range players (17th over his last 24 rounds), so if I have to dive down into this range Grillo will probably be my first choice. Aaron Rai ($6,500 DK, $7,000 FD) is another guy that is getting some buzz around the industry heading into this week as he is coming off of four consecutive made cuts on the Euro Tour following his win at the Hong Kong Open in a field that included Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood and Patrick Reed. At the minimum price on FanDuel, I think Rai is a really good option with the potential to finish inside the Top 20 this week.
As always, thank you very much for giving my article a glance this week as you prepare for the WGC Mexico. If you have any questions you would like to ask me about your lineup or about my article in general, join us on DPA Premium where you can get exclusive access to myself as well as the rest of our other experts for NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL.
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Until next time, enjoy our week in Mexico – but don’t drink the water!