When it was announced in early November that the new PGA TOUR event planned in Mexico would be the Mexico Open at Vidanta, it brought the history of the country’s national championship full circle.
The first Mexico Open was contested in 1944 at Club de Golf Chapultepec, which hosted the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship from 2017-2020. The Mexico Open would join the sanctioned ranks of the PGA TOUR as a then-Web.com Tour event from 2008-2012. It then transitioned into an annual stop on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica in 2013 and extended through 2021.
In addition to the tournament’s promotion to the PGA TOUR, the host course also is new. For analysis of Vidanta Vallarta, how it expects to test and more, continue reading beneath the projected contenders.
POWER RANKINGS: MEXICO OPEN AT VIDANTA
Patrick Reed, Davis Riley and Kevin Streelman will be among the notables reviewed in Tuesday’s Draws and Fades.
Since confirmation of the addition of the Mexico Open at Vidanta, the field was increased by a dozen to 144. Because it’s a stand-alone tournament, the winner will receive 500 FedExCup points and an exemption into the 2023 Masters. Spots in the 2022 PGA Championship as well as the 2023 editions of the Sentry Tournament of Champions and THE PLAYERS Championship also will be secured on top of a membership exemption through at least 2023-24.
Vidanta Vallarta’s Greg Norman Signature Course is the stage. It’s about a mile northeast to the nearest point of the shoreline of Banderas Bay against which Puerto Vallarta is situated. It’s tucked into a triangular piece of land framed by the Ameca River to the north and the border of Nayarit and Jalisco around its eastern and southern perimeter. (Although the two Mexican states once were separated by time zones – Central and Mountain – all of the area has adhered to the Central since 2010. The course opened in 2015.)
Unlike Chapultepec, which is over 7,000 feet above sea level in the mountains of Mexico City, Vidanta Vallarta is just high enough not to be underwater. It can stretch to 7,456 yards and it plays to a par of 71.
Like Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course, Vidanta Vallarta also boasts five par 3s to go with the full complement of four par 5s, three of the latter of which are on the inward nine, including the 548-yard finisher.
Four of the par 3s – Nos. 5, 9, 11 and 17 – are played over water, which is one of the three most menacing hazards on the course. However, while omnipresent across the property and adjacent to many holes, including the tee box at No. 7, it’s not in play there. The reason why it’s worth the mention is because it’s a drivable par 4 measuring just 297 yards.
Another problem totals 106 in number. Those are the bunkers and many are sizable. All have been renovated in advance of the tournament. The frequent combination of water and sand supports why many Norman designs require precision tee to green. It’s how The Great White Shark succeeded inside the ropes himself.
Platinum paspalum blankets the course, the longest of which around the edges is topped off at an inch and a half. Greens are prepped to 12 feet on the Stimpmeter, standard for PGA TOUR competition, but it’s still the maximum depending on the third pillar among the hazards – the wind.
Warm and dry conditions are forecast but prevailing breezes off the coast will be moderate and steady throughout. The ability to play target golf at its best is rewarded even more so with unfamiliar greens. In situations like this, ball-strikers tend to thrive, but particularly on a track designed by a guy who rode that skill set to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.com’s Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous perspectives. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.