The golfing season starts in earnest Thursday as the world’s best head to the Club de Golf Chapultepec, just west of Mexico City, for the World Golf Championship.
This will be the first time in WGC history that Mexico hosts an event, and thus many of the players will be new to this course. This makes sorting out previous course form slightly tricky!
However, let’s starts with the course itself. Set over 2,000 metres above sea level, Chapultepec is playing 7,330 yards (6704 metres) long, with a par of 71. For a course set at altitude, where the ball tends to fly further, this isn’t particularly long, with many of the top PGA courses over 7,500 yards nearer sea level.
That said, two of the three par fives are over 620 yards, with the third being 575 yards in length. Does this mean the long hitters will have their usual advantage or will most players simply lay up to wedge range?
The greens are meant to run around 11.5 on the Stimpmeter, reasonably quick but not Augusta fast, and won’t be familiar to much of the field.
Turning to the players, in a reduced field, and we simply have to start with the new world no. 1, Dustin Johnson, after his victory in the Genesis Open in mid February. Favourite in most eyes–Betfred are offering 7/1–Johnson has the power to tame most courses, but also ranks third in greens in regulation on the PGA Tour. He has also won three previous WGC titles. A worthy favourite.
Next in the betting is Jordan Speith, with Betfair offering 9/1. Speith has also won already this year, triumphing at Pebble Beach early in February. Not as long as Johnson, Speith leads the Tour in greens in regulation and possesses a wonderful putting touch.
Another tournament winner already this year is Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama–15/1 with Boyle Sports–who leads the Tour in scoring on par 5s.
As for Northern Irish star Rory McIlroy–12/1 with Betway–maybe it’s not the time to get involved given he is just returning from injury. (Watching Brief on Rory in Mexico)
Further down the field is a player that really attracts. Sergio Garcia leads the Tour in total driving (accuracy plus distance) , has a strong wedge game and has performed well at altitude in Europe in the past. Now Sergio’s putting isn’t his strong suit, but unfamiliar greens could lessen the advantage of the traditional putting gods.
Garcia is best priced at 30/1 at Boyle Sports, but punters could also look at the Paddy Power special of 16/1 without Johnson, Speith and McIlroy.
Another player to look at is Alexander Noren. The Swede had a stellar 2016, winning four times, and has an outstanding record at the European Masters in the Swiss Alps. With odds of around 100/1, we will be looking carefully at how Noren starts.
Recommendation: Dustin Johnson to win at 7/1 Betfred
Recommendation: Sergio Garcia to win without Johnson, Speith and McIlroy at 16/1 Paddy Power