Paulie's Picks: 2018 WGC-Mexico

In-depth analysis of this week’s WGC-Mexico Championship can create a distinct advantage on DraftKings and in your fantasy leagues. There isn’t much course history to rely on since the Club de Golf Chapultepec is hosting PGA Tour players for only the second time. Here are some of the factors I am looking at when identifying picks this week.

Keys to Chapultepec:

7,800 feet above sea level (1.5 miles)
Yardage: 7,300 (elevation adjusted: 6,700)
Poa annua greens
Kikuyu grass throughout the rest of the course
Tight tree-lined layout requires precision
Largest statistical emphasis is on approach shots this week

Let’s dive into how we can exploit each of these factors with our picks.

Elevation

Elevation will play a big factor this week. The ball will carry farther with less spin and less curvature. Players will have a hard time adjusting to this. Those who have been exposed to similar elevation and had success will have an advantage this week. The event with the best comparison is the Omega European Masters, a mainstay on the European Tour. The Omega Masters is held at a course that is 5,000 feet above sea level. I expect players who have played well there will have an easier time adjusting in Mexico. 

Grass
 
With the combination of poa annua greens and kikuyu grass throughout the rest of the course, many players will struggle to adapt. On the PGA Tour, Riviera and Torrey Pines have a similar grass structure. On foreign soil, many South African courses have kikuyu grass such as Gary Player CC, which hosts the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Course Layout

This week's course is similar to many European courses that place an emphasis on ball striking and punish wayward tee shots. I would favor European players who are used to playing a more precise type of golf as opposed to the modern American version of bomb and gouge.

After analyzing the above items, six European players drastically stood out to me. These players are all viable for your DraftKings lineup, one-and-done league and are good choices to wager a few dollars on:

Alexander Noren

All signs point to a high finish for Noren this week. He comes into this event after finishing third at the Honda. He has gained an astounding 17.2 shots approach over his last four events. Noren has also had success at altitude, winning the Omega European Masters in 2009 and 2016. He also has had a great deal of success on kikuyu grass, winning the 2016 Nedbank Challenge and his recent playoff loss at Torrey Pines.

Sergio Garcia

Many people may not consider Garcia this week after his lackluster 33rd place finish at the Honda. If we dig deeper, we see that Garcia had superb iron play, gaining 6.8 shots approach on the field, but struggled off the tee and on the green. I think he puts everything together this week and contends. Garcia has played well at elevation in the past. In his last five appearances at the Omega European Masters, he has four top six finishes, including one victory. Garcia also owns a vacation home at the Crans-sur-Sierre GC, which hosts that event. If that isn't enough proof to show that he succeeds at elevation, he finished 4th at the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills in Colorado in 2014. He also has had success on the poa/kikuyu combo as shown by his solid historical results at Riviera.

Paul Casey

Casey finished 16th here a year ago while struggling on and around the greens. If he can have a decent short game this week, you will see him on the front page of the leaderboard on Sunday. Over the past year, Casey has averaged 3.9 strokes gained on approach per event.

Tommy Fleetwood

Fleetwood will be a very popular option this week after finishing fourth at the Honda and runner-up here a year ago. Known as one of the best ball strikers in Europe, I would be surprised if he didn’t rack up another high finish this week.

Matthew Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick won the 2017 Omega European Masters in September 2017. Since then, he has played 11 events and finished outside the top 20 only once. He is one of the best iron players on the European Tour. 

Chris Paisley

Paisley comes into this event playing the best golf of his career. In his last four events, he has recorded three top-five finishes, including a victory. During that timeframe, he is 66 under par and hasn’t shot one round over par!!! He is my top longshot candidate for a sneaky top ten this week at 10-1 odds.

 

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