Horses for Courses: World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship
February 19, 2019
By Mike Glasscott, PGATOUR.COM
Phil Mickelson's best moments from 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship
The West Coast Swing has concluded, but before the TOUR heads east to Florida, a stop in Mexico City is required for the first World Golf Championship of 2019. A field of 72 will have four rounds (no cut) to put their name on the trophy and the winner will be well deserved. This deep field consists of 46 of the top 50 players in the OWGR playing for a purse of $10.25 million ($1.745 first place) and 550 FedExCup Points.
For the third consecutive year Willie Smith's 1921 design of Club de Golf Chapultepec will host the top players in the world. At over 7,500 feet above sea level the Par-71 7,345 yards won't play nearly as long. Keeping the ball in play off the tee and the mastery of the Bentgrass-Poa annua greens will be the keys this week.
Phil Mickelson (2018)
The lefty entered the week on fire with three previous top-10 paydays under his snakeskin belt. He left with his 47th victory in his hall-of-fame career after knocking out Justin Thomas in a playoff. His ball-striking wasn't notable but his short game was classic Phil.
Notables: Became the oldest winner in WGC event at 47 after finishing T7 in 2017.
Dustin Johnson (2017)
Playing in the final group one shot behind 54-hole leader Thomas, Johnson was the only player in the top four to break par on Sunday. His 68 was good enough for a one-shot victory over Tommy Fleetwood, who closed with 66.
Notable: It shouldn't have been close. Johnson missed SIXTEEN PUTTS inside 10 feet on the week. He was in the top five in both putting metrics in 2018 but only finished T7. So much for the phrase "putting for dough.”
KEY STAT LEADERS
The third trip to Mexico City should provide a better understanding for the altitude adjustment and reading the slopes on the Bentgrass-Poa annua greens. The course history prior to 2017 is irrelevant as this event was held in Miami at sea level.
Golfers inside the top 25-ish in each statistic on the 2017-18 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.
* - Finished inside the top 10 since 2017
Strokes-Gained: Tee to Green
1. *Dustin Johnson
3. *Justin Thomas
4. *Jon Rahm
5. *Tommy Fleetwood
6. *Phil Mickelson
7. Bryson DeChambeau (first visit)
8. Brooks Koepka (T48, 2017)
9. Tony Finau (T27, 2018)
10. Jordan Spieth
13. Aaron Wise (first visit)
15. *Rory McIlroy
16. Hideki Matsuyama (T25, 2017)
17. Tiger Woods (first visit)
18. Rickie Fowler
24. Marc Leishman
Putting: Birdie-or-Better Percentage
1. *Dustin Johnson
2. *Phil Mickelson
3. *Justin Thomas
5. *Jon Rahm
9. *Tommy Fleetwood
10. Brooks Koepka
12. Bryson DeChambeau
14. *Rory McIlroy
16. Tiger Woods
17. Kevin Na
18. Tony Finau
21. Marc Leishman
23. Aaron Wise
26. Jordan Spieth
27. Hideki Matsuyama
1. Webb Simpson (T37, 2018)
3. Louis Oosthuizen
4. Tiger Woods
8. Kevin Na
9. Matt Kuchar
12. Brooks Koepka
14. Rickie Fowler
17. *Rory McIlroy
18. Patrick Reed
20. Abraham Ancer
21. *Tyrrell Hatton
23. *Dustin Johnson
24. *Justin Thomas
27. Chez Reavie
LEVELS OF CONFIDENCE
We’ve selected a few players below that should be fairly confident going into this week.
Quick Studies Abroad
Justin Thomas played the weekend last year 62-64 (-16) to force the playoff and set the 36-hole TOUR record for the weekend. He also held the 54-hole lead in 2017 (T5) and owns the course record of 62.
Englishman Tyrrell Hatton doesn't get a ton of reps on TOUR but he's 24-under in two trips with T3 last year and solo 10th in 2017. All eight rounds are 70 or less.
Tommy Fleetwood announced his arrival to many fantasy players finishing second to Johnson here in 2017. He bounced back on the weekend last year (67-66) to claim T14. His worse weekend score is 67 from four tries.
Class is Permanent
Jon Rahm exploded onto the WGC scene with T3 in his first-ever event in this elite field in 2017 and posted T20 last year.
Sergio Garcia quietly knocked off the PR rust last week at Riviera and will land comfortably in Mexico City where he was T7 last year and T12 in 2017. The third member of the Spanish Armada, Rafa Cabrera Bello, only posted one round in the 60's in '17. He was one of four players to place all four in the 60's last year for T3.
Rory McIlroy opened with 68-65 before cooling to T7 in his only appearance in '17. He's not finished outside T5 in three stars in 2019.
Before Thomas posted 62, Jordan Spieth signed for 63 in Round 3 to set the course record in '17. He followed T12 that season with T14 last year.
Paul Casey improved on T16 with T12 in last year's edition. He has been runner up in his last two events worldwide.
Bubba Watson rattled off 21 birdies last year but had a double in three of the four rounds (T9). His new putting grip will be tested again this week.
Shubhankar Sharma (T9) led after 36 and 54 holes last year but his form doesn't suggest a repeat performance.
Patton Kizzire (T12, 2018) was on a heater at this time last year. He's MC in his last two this season.
Louis Oosthuizen opened with 64 to lead after 18 last year. He cashed T30.
Matt Kuchar has posted five rounds in a row at par or WORSE and isn't the most comfortable on Bent-Poa.