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Benny and the Bets: Tony Finau a favorite, but Keith Mitchell matters in Mexico

3 Min Read

Golfbet News


    Written by Ben Everill @BEverillGolfbet

    It’s long game central this week as we head south of the border.

    The Mexico Open at Vidanta has only seen two iterations so far, but we can still glean some insights ahead of the third installment.

    For starters, those who hit the ball a long way have a distinct advantage on this 7,456-yard, par-71 layout. With the rough somewhat inconsequential to this level of skilled athlete and the resort-style hazards not posing much threat to them either, the bombers can really let it rip from the tee.

    Tony Finau, who won last year and was runner-up the year prior, ranked second in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee on the way to his victory. Finau, the clear betting favorite at +750, was ranked first in SG: Tee-to-Green in both years.

    It’s not just distance off the tee that counts. There are significantly more shots over 200 yards at Vidanta Vallarta than your regular TOUR stop and this lends us to look towards those players who are dialed in from distance on approach as well.

    The last seven holes can be particularly fruitful as the house three of the four par 5s – Finau is 23-under on that stretch in his two appearances, at least four better than anyone else.

    And then, as obvious as it sounds, you need to putt well if you want to succeed.

    Finau was eighth in SG: Putting last season on the way to victory with the next five names on the leaderboard all inside the top nine of the same statistic. You are going to have to go low to get the win, so making the most of your chances on the greens are paramount.


    You can’t look at this event without casting an eye over Finau (+750 at BetMGM). The fact is he’s the highest-ranked player in the field and no one in this field has ever topped him at this course. But before you go all-in at such short odds, remember this season has been a tough one for him on the greens. Finau might be fifth in SG: Tee-to-Green (17th Off-the-Tee, seventh in Approach) but he is way back at 158th in SG: Putting. His experimentations with grips and putters etc. might be a reason to hold for a round before jumping in.

    Instead consider Keith Mitchell (+2800) as an option. He’s currently ranked fourth on TOUR in relation to par from more than 200 yards and is also fourth in SG: Off-the-Tee. While last year was one Mitchell fell back from his potential, early signs this season say he could break out. A top-10 finish at The American Express and a top-20 in his last start at the WM Phoenix Open bring impetus.

    Place Markets

    Despite all the longshot winners we’ve had this season, I’m getting conservative this week and essentially looking at my next best outright options as top-10 selections. Nicolai Højgaard (+170 for Top 10) is a sensational talent out of Europe who smashes the ball far and is certainly not afraid to win having done so on the DP World Tour and as part of a victorious Ryder Cup team.

    Another European, although well-assimilated to the U.S. life, is Stephan Jaeger (+220 Top 10). Last season Jaeger ranked 10th on TOUR in relation to par from over 200 yards and the man knows how to shoot low rounds. Has a pair of top 20s and averaged 68.38 for eight rounds here.

    With a third and a T2 in three years, Brandon Wu (+320 Top 10) is also a target here.


    Cameron Champ (+5500) is proving a bit of a horse for this course with a T8 and T6 on his resume despite not playing great golf around those efforts. He is once again struggling to make cuts but clearly likes what he sees in Mexico. He has gained an average +1.366 strokes off the tee against the field in this event over his eight rounds AND 1.104 shots putting.

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    Senior Writer, Golfbet Follow Ben Everill on Twitter.

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