2017 WGC-Mexico: Preview

wgc-mexico-championship-logo-990x556For the first time, this WGC event will be hosted at Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City, as the event has moved from Trump Doral in an undeniable twist of irony. Because this is the first time the event will be played in Mexico City, Tom and I are going to go with a different format for picks. Instead of our tiered breakdown, we are going to do a little bit of a round table discussion about what should be a really interesting WGC event.

WGC Mexico

Club De Golf Chapultepec reaches elevations as high as 7,835 feet above sea level Source: Talens Magazine

At first glance this course is long (par 5’s of 625 & 622, and par 3’s of 235 & 225), however it also has short par 4’s sprinkled throughout. Additionally, at 1+ miles of elevation, how do you attack this course? And does this give an advantage to the bombers?

Jon: At first glance early in the week, I thought this was going to be a bombers paradise based on yardage alone. Then I read a little physics about altitude and its affect on drag and magnus force, and suddenly had a change of heart. The best way I can put this is that in higher spots on the course there is less air resistance, making the balls retain speed at a higher rate throughout their flight. Additionally, they are playing in Mexico, which means it will get hot, which reduces the air density even more. The big takeaway being that bombers will have a slight advantage in reaching some of the shorter par 4’s, but it will be to a negligible degree. BIG, big takeaway — your short iron players are the guys to target.

Tom: I do not want to read into this too much – when you look at Jon’s description, I focus on the word negligible because it just seems like there are too many variables. When I looked through the course breakdown on PGATour.com (a good practice that is accessible information to everyone), what stuck out to me most was how tight a lot of the holes look. So maybe total driving (a stat that measures driving distance + driving accuracy). Rickie Fowler is obviously driving the ball well, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose also come to mind (especially if Stenson can use his favorite club, the 3 wood), and interestingly, Bubba Watson is very accurate off the tee so far this season – but somehow is also in terrible form, so he would be a risky play to consider.

 What do you think the winning score will be, and how does that correlate to your picks?
Jordan SpiethJon: After reading and listening to copious amounts of material, it sounds like this is going to be a low scoring affair, with chances early and often to make birdies. For me, that lends itself to picking players like Jordan Spieth, and Jon Rahm who can make birdies in bunches. Winning score –> -19
Tom: The weather report is also favorable, so that helps avoid additional variables that would affect scoring. Since every golfer is guaranteed four rounds, that should also drive scores lower. I’m not sure we will see them break -20 though, so in the interest of making this little mini-competition with Jon interesting, I’ll say -17. In general, I’m not worried about score, other than agreeing with the interest in birdie or better %, strokes-gained putting, etc. (stats that are almost always relevant).
This is essentially a brand new tournament, and also features players not typically found on a PGA event. With that said, what is your strategy for picking players, and for picking what DFS games to play?
Jon: There is definitely a different strategy to picking players in a small field event, filled with the worlds top golfers, and I think you have to have a “what have you done for me lately” attitude. That’s not to say you should shy away from guys coming in with less than stellar form (see below). With these WGC events, there is much less variability, and I really feel like the sharks smell blood in the water. People with the bankroll are going to enter multiple lineups, with little variability, simply because they can. Therefore I am playing small entry GPP games, to just have fun this week.
Tom: When it comes to a lot of unknowns, I take a little safer approach than normal. Not to say safe in terms of leaning on cash-game plays, but safe in terms of consistency with my own picks. I recommend leaning toward guys who you predict to have lower ownership, but stay consistent with your own picks. I think less variance in players than usual is important.
Does your approach to picking players change in a no-cut event?
Jon: To add to my explanation above, GPP’s are always hard to win (you should never expect to outright win a GPP), whereas cash games are typically easier, because of cutline.  Typically, if you get 6/6 through the cut, you’re going to win a cash game, and often if you get 5/6 through you’re going with win in cash. With these no cut games, it distorts who you should pick. You could theoretically pick all 6k guys, have them collectively average a 3+, and still win if they hit enough birdies. The distortion adds another dimension to DFS, which makes these no cut tournaments hard. It also makes ownership percentage paramount to winning; if you zig while others zag, you’ll be in good shape. I’d look for Russel Knox, Branden Grace, Bubba Watson, and Brooks Koepka to be the biggest names who are low owned this week, but that’s mainly because they’ve been in poor form, so you gotta pick your poison.
Tom: When it comes to WGC events, I think that most people salivate a little bit at the opportunity to not worry about their players getting cut. But this is the mirage that Draft Kings wants you to see. Simply put, WGCs are extremely difficult to gauge. You almost have to pick the winner, for starters. So the approach I’m taking this year is leaning on single-entry formats. I don’t want to enter any leagues where the sharks can really maximize their chances by playing the numbers, since there are fewer players and no cut. I want to be in tournaments where we all have the same competitive advantage in terms of entries. And like I said above, I want to go to the well early and often with my favorite players this week. For me that means Rickie Fowler to keep up his great form, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, and Louis Oosthuizen who I think will be underrated due to the WD fears.
Does history in this WGC event and others matter?
 Jon: I looked at little-to-no course history, and instead tried to focus on current form. Look, you have the worlds top ranked golfers here, so it’s hard to have a traditionally bad lineup, but with that said, I think that the players who are here on exemption, will fade to the back, unless your name is Will McGirt.
Tom: I would say yes and no. This particular event should be treated like a new tournament because of the very unusual course it is being played on, but you still have to factor in the stakes and features of the tournament. Some players simply rise to the occasion in these events, whether it is the relative competition with the best golfers in the world, or the ability to not worry about making a cut. Guys in that boat include Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, and again Bubba Watson. And I will say, it is hard to bet against Spieth when he’s given four rounds, because he’s a virtual lock to go low in at least one.
Rory McIlRoy

Source: CBSSports

Since this event consists of the top golfers in the world, can you take a flier on just about anyone?

Jon: EF NO! Look at your injuries, current form, wedge play. Even though they are the best in the world, they are still competing against each other and they all do things vastly different. Spieth loves his putter, and prides himself on green reading. DJ, the perennial bomber is going to make his opportunities based on distance. Warren Buffet prides himself on doing his homework, and so should you. Branden Grace withdrew last week citing a rotator cuff injury, Rory is coming back from a rib injury, and also pretty much couldn’t figure out his putter last year. All of these are factors to consider when picking your players for Mexico.
Tom: I agree here: no. Sure, anyone in this tournament has the pedigree to win. But there are a lot of golfers coming in from other world tours who have never teed it up against the likes of a Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, of Dustin Johnson. It’s hard to translate your success in the face of players that bring the inherent intimidation that comes with their exposure in the media and the world of golf. There are also golfers who are simply not playing up to their world ranking currently. So as Jon mentioned, really lean on that current form, and don’t just throw guys in there who you know nothing about on the assumption that they will make decent contrarian plays.
***
Finally, good luck! Don’t over think your approach this week. It also might not be the week to go ham on your bank roll and bet a ton more money than usual. This is a common mistake people make in no cut events. But on the plus side of there being no cut, you should hopefully be able to stay entertained through Sunday no matter what happens on Thursday and Friday, so enjoy the viewing this weekend!
We apologize for getting this post out on the morning of the tournament, and expect to be back next week with our normal picks style for what will be an emotional and special installment of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
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