This week, the world’s best head to Mexico City for the first WGC event of the year. It will be the first time that Mexico City hosts the high profile event, ending a ten-year run at Donald Trump-owned Doral in Miami Florida. The move was initiated when Cadillac chose not to re-up their sponsorship of the event, and the TOUR struggled to find a new sponsor. Enter Mexico and golf’s continued commitment to globalize the game. The no-cut, guaranteed cash tournament draws a stellar field with the entire top 50 in the world rankings except for world number 2 Jason Day, who will sit out because of the flu and ear infections. Full field and tee times
Back 2 Back
Last year was Doral Blue Monster’s last PGA TOUR hurrah (for now), and the cream certainly rose to the top. Sunday started with Rory McIlroy holding a three-shot lead over an elite leaderboard. Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott were his closest chasers with the trio of Bubba Watson, Danny Willett and Phil Mickelson five shots back but within shouting distance. Rory struggled all day, opening the door. Coming down the stretch, it was a tight four-man battle between McIlroy, Scott, Watson and Willett. Scott seized the advantage by birdieing four of the first five holes on the back side and hanging on despite some shaky shots down the stretch to win by one shot over Bubba Watson and notch his second victory in a row.
The tournament will be hosted at the historic Club de Golf Chapultepec, which stands as one of Mexico’s oldest courses (designed in the mid 1920s and opened for play in 1928). The course quickly became one of the country’s finest and became host to the Mexican Open for the first 16 years of the event before the tournament began to rotate. The course last hosted the Mexican Open in 2014 as part of the Latin American Tour Schedule. While the course stretches to a tad over 7,300 yards and will play as a par 71 for the event, it sits at an elevation of 7,500 feet, which makes it play a lot shorter than the yardage would suggest. The course’s main defense is its tight and fairways overgrown by trees.
3 Storylines to watch
Ball go far
Playing nearly a mile and a half above sea-level should lead to some lengthy drives from some of the world’s bombers. On Tuesday, Justin Thomas posted some of his Trackman numbers on Snapchat, and based off those, golf fans should expect to see regular tee shots that are longer than 400 yards. On the short and tight course, it will be interesting to see how the players attack the holes and whether we see a lot more irons off tees than the standard Tour events.
Rory McIlroy will make his return from a rib injury he sustained at the January BMW SA Open. I expect McIlroy to have no lingering effects from the injury, and his return will give him a little more than a month to prepare and get into top form for The Masters, where he will continue his quest for the career grand slam.
Bad news for Bubba
The last 45 weeks haven’t been great on the golf course for Bubba Watson. The polarizing star’s last top-10 finish in a full-field event came in April of 2016 at the European Tour’s Shenzhen International, and since switching to his pink Volvik ball, he has finished t25th out of just 32 competitors at the Tournament of Champions, missed the cut at the Waste Management and withdrew from the Northern Trust Open, an event where he was the defending champion. The former host of his WGC event, Doral, was a course that Watson made hay at, having finished in the top 3 four of the past five seasons. Now it will shift to a shorter and tighter international locale, not what the doctor ordered for Bubba’s ailing game.
With a brand new course, Paulie dove into a lot of different factors to deliver this week’s picks, which are heavy on Europeans. Check out who he likes for Draftkings, one-and-done and long shots here.
WGC-Mexico Championship Coverage
Seminole Pro Member
As is tradition the Monday following the Honda Classic, many of the world’s best teed it up at Donald Ross’ South Florida masterpiece Seminole for their annual Pro-Member tournament. This year, former Ohio State star and mini-tour player Bo Hoag and his member partner Alan Fadal captured the crown with a 63. Full results
The best of the rest
For the European Tour players who didn’t earn a spot in this week’s WGC event, their tour of South Africa continues with this year’s Tshwane Open. The host site Pretoria Golf Club offers players with a unique look as it's short and tight setup is a change from the usually long tracks. To succeed at Pretoria, players will have to be patient and smart navigating their way around track. The field is filled with promising young players like Tom Detry, Paul Dunne, Romaine Langasque and Jordan Smith, and veterans such as 2015 champion George Coetzee, Darren Clarke and Jamie Donaldson.
On the college circuit
The spring season for college golf is in full-tilt as the country’s best teams begin their preparation for championship season starting in the end of April. Ten of the country’s top 30 teams tee’d it up at the Querencia Cabo Collegiate, where Oklahoma State put together a dominant ten-shot win and Washington’s Corey Pereira snagged the individual title.
In Lafayette for the Annual Louisiana Classics, MAC powerhouse Kent State put together a statement win in the strong field. The Golden Flashes were 19 shots better than 14th-ranked Texas A&M, 20 better than 13th-ranked LSU and 30 shots better than the 3rd-ranked University of Illinois, firmly putting their name in the discussion for National Championship contenders. On the individual side, LSU sophomore Sam Burns continued his All-American campaign, capturing the individual crown after rounds of 70-68-68.
Riding a wave of confidence from his strong performance, Pepperdine star Sahith Theegala led the way, capturing the individual crown and helping his team win the team title at The Southwestern Invitational. Finishing runner up to the Waves was powerhouse USC, whose stars Rico Hoey and Sean Crocker both notched top-10 finishes.
I fired up the podcast and hosted longtime golf scribe Sean Martin, who currently works as an editor for the PGA TOUR. We talked about the state of the Tour, some players he has his eye on, reminisced on some names from the past and even sprinkled in some golf course architecture. Listen in on the website or iTunes, and please leave us a review!
The LPGA heads to Singapore for the HSBC Women’s Championship.
Check out what it was like on the TOUR private charter to Mexico City.
PGA of America to allow players to wear shorts during PGA Championship practice rounds.
Double barrel action
Soly fired up the podcast not once but twice. He first hosted European Tour star and former number one-ranked amateur, Peter Uihlein. The two talk about what it's like for Uihlein to be an American on the European Tour, the best aspects of travel and much more. Listen in on the NLU Website or iTunes, and write a review!
His second guest was NLU co-founder and hot take extraordinaire, Tron Carter. The two talk about Rickie Fowler’s big win, white belts and what they have thought of the 2017 season to date. Listen in on the NLU Website or iTunes, and write a review!