When you read phrases like Strokes Gained: Putting, distance of all drives and approach-putt performance in the Power Rankings for the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, that's a signal that ShotLink is used at Club de Golf Chapultepec. Of all PGA TOUR events outside the U.S., only it and the host course for the RBC Canadian Open use the technology.
One of the most frequent questions I field is for which events ShotLink applies. It's why I cite its implication in this weekly column when warranted. However, you always can review where it's in play for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf by scrolling to Appendix A of How to Play. As noted at the bottom, tournaments with two asterisks beside them do not use ShotLink for fantasy purposes even if the host of multiple-course events measures every shot.
You'll also notice on the How to Play page that the WGC-Mexico Championship is the antepenultimate stop of Segment 2. Given that we are deep into this phase, you likely are thinking about burning the last start of at least one golfer at Club de Golf Chapultepec, but also consider the value of the absence of a cut this week.
If you're pacing, you're in position to play defense, especially with only two more events remaining in Segment 2. So, you're in position not to holster popular picks. That said, you don't want to give it away with PGA National (The Honda Classic) and Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard) looming. Blend wisely. This won't necessarily be the advice for league leaders at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational when it's the third of 10 events in Segment 4. When we get there in July, patience in the form of strategic insurance will be the objective.
For those of you looking up, there's more value in selecting six who you think your target will not and hoping for the best. The problem is that WGCs are virtual pushes until the bonus points for leaderboard finishes are applied. So, a sound approach is to surround maybe two behemoths with household names with pedestrian course history who are in great form. In no particular order, the likes of Webb Simpson, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar and Shane Lowry present intriguing possibilities.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Paul Casey; Sungjae Im; Collin Morikawa; Patrick Reed; Xander Schauffele; Adam Scott; Webb Simpson
Driving: Bryson DeChambeau; Sungjae Im; Jon Rahm; Xander Schauffele; Webb Simpson; Bubba Watson; Gary Woodland
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Cameron Smith … It wasn’t long ago that he was in this space. As the Wild Card for the Sony Open in Hawaii, he emerged in a playoff over Brendan Steele, whose late nerves were everything but, at least phonetically. This is the back-handed compliment for the Aussie, however. Only six weeks later, he's again the Wild Card. Since the unexpected victory, he's gone T64-MC-MC and didn't break par in any of his last six rounds. It's a drought that's sure to end at Chapultepec where he connected red numbers all week en route to a T6 in his debut a year ago, but the inconsistency of late triggers some doubt.
Gary Woodland … Endured an uncharacteristically quiet West Coast Swing, but his class is permanent. He leads the PGA TOUR in total driving and ranks seventh in greens hit. He also hasn't missed an edition of this tournament since it moved to Mexico City in 2017. Recorded a personal-best T17 last year.
Kevin Kisner … Maybe the perfect complement what with his decent record here that includes a personal-best 11th-place showing in 2017 and the propensity to contend at will, and often enough to get us excited at that. Sure, he's up and down, but most guys are. And with no cut, it's also the reason why he's such an attractive option this week.
Sungjae Im … Missed cuts on challenging courses can be dismissed as anomalies no matter the talent, and he's now 0-for-2 at Riviera, but he's also now gone three straight starts without a top 30. Gasp! Don't sweat it, or the fact that he just about refuses to rest. He'll have a great time firing at flags and rolling in par breakers at Chapultepec. If you've been waiting to plug him in when others are cool, here you go.
Matthew Fitzpatrick … Rolling along predictably thus far, so it stands to reason that he'll improve on his T30 at Riviera. That matches his worst finish in three trips to Chapultepec. The recurring narrative remains undiminished: he has five runners-up in the last 12 months.
Victor Perez … Successful dynasty gamers have been tracking the Frenchman ever since he broke through for his first European Tour title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in September. Beginning with that coronation, he's 9-for-9 worldwide also with a P2, a T2, a T4 and another three top 20s. Strong throughout his bag and better nearer the hole. With fellow European Tour member Matthias Schwab, they co-lead PGA TOUR non-members in FedExCup points. (For more on this subset of talent, please read my latest Rookie Ranking.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout … You'll find a reference to the South African as well in the Rookie Ranking. He made the long trip from his homeland where he prevailed at the Dimension Data Pro-Am. He also finished second at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic four weeks ago. All told, in the last 12 months, the 25-year-old has hung up two wins, two seconds, two thirds and another two top 10s worldwide.
Robert MacIntyre … Giving the 23-year-old from Scotland the benefit of the doubt to sustain his incredible form despite his youth. This marks just his third PGA TOUR start, but many, many more are coming. The lefty was named Rookie of the Year on the European Tour last season. His bevy of leaderboard appearances included a trio of runner-up finishes and a T6 at The Open Championship among another four top 10s.
Charles Howell III
Marc Leishman … The Aussie projected for better than a T43 at Riviera, but that course always wins. Still, with but a T37 (2018), a T62 (2019) and a scoring average of 72.00 on par-71 Club de Golf Chapultepec, hang onto him for Bay Hill where he's a past champion (2017) with top 25s in the last four editions.
Jordan Spieth … He snuck inside the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking when it was first used to help fill the field two weeks ago, but he'd have gained entry as the last man in via the latest edition. Either way, it feels like a bonus given his form over time. Save a little spring and summertime heating last year, he was in similar doldrums when he rode a roller coaster en route to a T54 here last year. Since he posted top 15s in his first two looks, it didn't fulfill the angle supported by course-history buffs, so resist the urge to revisit that well.
Byeong Hun An … While there are exceptions to every rule, I prefer his profile on courses that allow him to play aggressively off the tee. The adjustment to altitude at Chapultepec may be at the root of a pair of finishes outside the top 40 and a smattering of scores from 64 to 77.
Lucas Glover … Since grinding out a spot in the TOUR Championship that yielded an exemption into this tournament, he's all but disappeared. Only one of his nine starts this season resulted in a top-35 finish (T9, Shriners).
Matt Wallace … Only one top-40 finish in his last seven starts worldwide, but don't take your eyes off him for good. He's a PGA TOUR member for the first time this season. We'll see quite a bit of him moving forward.
Bernd Wiesberger … The tall drink of water from Austria remains stuck on one top 10 in 48 career PGA TOUR starts. He has a T45 (2017) and a T30 (2018) at Chapultepec.
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Tyrrell Hatton … The Brit picked a dandy to return from surgery on his right wrist on Nov. 29. With the guarantee of four rounds at the WGC-Mexico Championship and respective finishes of 10th, T3 and T19, it shouldn't take him long to reconnect with his game. However, because there will be some natural hesitation to trust, use this week for observation only.
Kramer Hickok … Back in action in Puerto Rico where he finished T35 in his debut last year. He withdrew before his third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (reason unknown) and finished his West Coast Swing with signs of struggle. Currently 156th in the FedExCup.
NOTABLE WDs – WORLD GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS-MEXICO CHAMPIONSHIP
Tony Finau … Had committed but withdrew on Monday. He hasn't had much rest since opening 2020 in Hong Kong with a solo fifth. Failed to break par in every round at Riviera and placed T51.
NOTE: Each of the following listed below qualified but did not commit.
Patrick Cantlay … Undergoing surgery to repair his deviated septum. He first had surgery for it in the fall of 2018, and then finish T5 at the Hero World Challenge not long after, effectively missing only one month of action. Do not be concerned with this in any format.
Brooks Koepka … He's alternated appearing and sitting it out since Chapultepec debuted in 2017. Finally put some FedExCup points on the board at Riviera with a T43, but he's yet to impress since returning from a three-month layoff to rest his left knee.
Tiger Woods … He's made it clear that he's listening to his body more than ever, so even though he finished T10 in his debut at Chapultepec a year ago while following the same schedule, it's entirely understandable why he requires a recharge. Keep those expectations where they are.
Rickie Fowler … This is the first time that he's elected not to compete. After a T16 in his first spin in 2017, he didn't finish inside the top 35 in the last two editions. It gives him three weeks off before The Honda Classic where he's the all-time earnings leader.
Justin Rose … Second consecutive edition from which he's abstaining. Failed to crack the top 35 in the first two. Other than a close call in Singapore a month ago, he's made little noise relatively speaking for months.
Jason Day … Has not appeared since the tournament relocated to Mexico City in 2017.
Henrik Stenson … Hasn't appeared on the PGA TOUR since a T20 at the WGC-HSBC Champions on the first weekend of November. Later won the Hero World Challenge and has gone 3-for-3 abroad in 2020, albeit sans a top 20.
NOTABLE WDs – PUERTO RICO OPEN
Ian Poulter … He's first alternate at Chapultepec.
Matt Every … Failed to rebound after walking off Pebble Beach with an 80 to finish T32 and missed the cut by six at Riviera. He's 150th in the FedExCup, so it's been a disappointing first third of the season in his return to the PGA TOUR with fully exempt status.
Chris Stroud … Given a strong record at Coco Beach, this was a surprising decision, but he hasn't appeared since 2017 and he's missed his last six cuts dating back to The RSM Classic.
POWER RANKINGS RECAP – THE GENESIS INVITATIONAL
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Rory McIlroy T5
2 Justin Thomas MC
3 Jon Rahm T17
4 Bubba Watson MC
5 Tony Finau T51
6 Tiger Woods 68th
7 Patrick Cantlay T17
8 Adam Scott Win
9 Justin Rose T56
10 Hideki Matsuyama T5
11 Dustin Johnson T10
12 Phil Mickelson MC
13 Marc Leishman T43
14 Xander Schauffele T23
15 Jason Day MC
Wild Card Brooks Koepka T43
SLEEPERS RECAP – THE GENESIS INVITATIONAL
Joseph Bramlett T51
Wyndham Clark T17
Luke List T30
Denny McCarthy T37
Alex Noren T59
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE GOLFERS ON THE PGA TOUR
February 18 … none
February 19 … Greg Owen (48)
February 20 … none
February 21 … Cameron Davis (25)
February 22 … Vijay Singh (57)
February 23 … Steve Stricker (53)
February 24 … Zach Johnson (44); Kristoffer Ventura (25)