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Golfbet Insider: Tony Finau poised to end longshot trend in Mexico

6 Min Read

Golfbet News


    Written by Rob Bolton @RobBoltonGolf

    Some betting trends offer an opportunity to apply new information in pursuit of future profits. Others, though, are more about correlation than causation.

    Yes, Hideki Matsuyama just supplanted Wyndham Clark as the shortest winner of the 2024 season at the still-not-miniscule pre-tournament price of +6000 at BetMGM. We’re now seven weeks into the new year, and while each tournament had unique variables there’s no denying that longshots have dominated.

    So can we expect that to continue this week at the Mexico Open at Vidanta? Perhaps not.

    Take, for example, the Farmers Insurance Open. All eight winners at Torrey Pines from 2011-18 played the North Course in the second round. Eight in a row! Surely there’s something to that, right? Five of the last six champions took their one turn on the North in the opening round. Things have balanced out.

    The moral of the matter is that the current trend is only a trend by definition, not application.

    So as it pertains to Mexico, defending champion Tony Finau has stretched out to +800. Jump all over that. He was +750 last year when Jon Rahm was also in the field at +250 as the defending champ. As Finau expressed to the media on Tuesday, his family loves the area and his game is built for Vidanta Vallarta.

    Pull Quote

    Raul Pereda (+750 = Top 40) … Of the eight golfers in the field from the host nation of Mexico, the 27-year-old from Córdoba is the only one not in via a sponsor exemption. He gained entry on merit as a card-carrying member of the PGA TOUR.

    Pereda’s improbable climb was activated by a nice season on what was then PGA TOUR Latinoamérica in 2023. He then scaled from the second stage of PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry and into a top-five finish in the final stage.

    Rookie Raul Pereda's journey to the PGA TOUR

    Prior to his rookie campaign, for which he’s 0-for-2 thus far in made cuts, his only start on the PGA TOUR resulted in a T60 at last year’s Mexico Open. So, he’s warm both as a newly-minted member and a returning participant at Vidanta Vallarta.

    “Last year really brings me a lot of good memories where I can feel comfortable around the course,” Pereda said to the media on Tuesday. “I can slap it around, but I'll make a lot of putts this week.”

    He’s also noticed the changes in store with the shift from late April to the second half of February.

    “I think the course is playing different than last year a little bit,” he noted. “I think the wind direction has changed due to the time of the year that we're playing. It's softer, but definitely, the course is in great condition.”

    My take: First, as it concerns the wind, any push will be from a similarly westerly direction, but by no means will it be as strong as it was in any of the four rounds in the later date last year. So, that’s a non-starter.

    Somewhat surprisingly, he omitted his success through three rounds last year. He was T17 entering the finale, so the combination of that effort as a non-member in his PGA TOUR debut with what he’s gained from his achievements since easily serves enough reason to add this prop to your card and especially at that price. No, we can’t necessarily expect him to put four rounds together quite yet, but when it happens, it makes the most sense to occur at Vidanta Vallarta.

    Lastly, with putting surfaces slowed to 11 feet on the Stimpmeter, guys with less experience at this level should play up a bit. Slick greens tend to separate the best in the world from those chasing the best. So, if anything, seasoned PGA TOUR members will be adjusting to greens with which Pereda is more familiar.

    John Swantek and Rob Bolton on Talk of the TOUR

    Power Rankings Wild Card

    Taylor Pendrith (+125 = Top 20) … For the uninitiated, I’ve never looked at odds until after my Power Rankings publishes. In a week like this, that might seem like a lie because 11 of the shortest 12 on the outright board at BetMGM can be found in the Monday staple, but avid fans and loyal readers aren’t surprised. That’s just how the field shakes out at the Mexico Open at Vidanta.

    The omission of the dozen is the 32-year-old Canadian. While it’ll appear to you like split hairs, the primary reason he didn’t populate the Power Rankings is because he took the last three weeks off. Yet, when you run it back, he has two top 10s in three starts this season and five top 15s in his last seven starts across the last four months.

    There’s an argument to be made that the field at Vidanta Vallarta matches up very well to a few of the others where he’s made noise of late, yet BetMGM still has plus value to a “mere” top 20. He finished T30 in his tournament debut last year.


    NOTE: Not everything needs a setup. For a variety of reasons, these lines are too enticing to ignore.

    • PARLAY: Keith Mitchell, Thorbjørn Olesen, Patrick Rodgers (+130 = All to Make the Cut)
    • Rafael Campos (+160 = Top 40)
    • Cameron Champ (+150 = Miss the Cut)
    • Pierceson Coody (+240 = Top 40)
    • Cristobal Del Solar (+150 = Top 40)
    • Tony Finau (+400 = in final group in the last round)
    • Chesson Hadley (+100 = Top 40)
    • S.H. Kim (+300 = Top Asian)

    Returning to Competition

    Carl Yuan (+125 = Top 40) … His last few months have been as wild as the action in his swing. A fruitful FedExCup Fall included a T6 (Sanderson Farms Championship) and a solo fourth (Butterfield Bermuda Championship), but he still checked up one spot outside the top 125. That was until he wiggled his way into the coveted bubble for fully exempt status in December. He paid it off immediately with a T4 at the Sony Open in Hawaii to open his sophomore season on the PGA TOUR, but he’s gone 0-for-3 since the most recent start resulting in withdrawal after one round of the WM Phoenix Open due to a sore neck. No one presents more speculation in his second appearance at Vidanta Vallarta (T55, 2023), which is why his prop for plus-money is tantalizing.

    Notable WDs

    Will Zalatoris … After his runner-up at The Genesis Invitational, he revealed that he learned of a death in his family on the Thursday of the tournament, so he’s attending to the personal matter now. The finish at Riviera lifted him to sixth in the Aon Next 10 for the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.

    Will Gordon … Despite his early struggles this season — he’s 2-for-4 in made cuts and without a top 40 — Vidanta Vallarta set up as a spot for him to find his game. His presence as a long-hitting ball-striker is a constant, but he also was poised to avenge last year’s final-round fade into a T24. He had started the day in fifth place.

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    Rob Bolton is a Golfbet columnist for the PGA TOUR. The Chicagoland native has been playing fantasy golf since 1994, so he was just waiting for the Internet to catch up with him. Follow Rob Bolton on Twitter.

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