It was a week off as a whole for me last week with no full preview or indeed podcast for the Zurich Classic pairs event.
As those who follow me on social media though will know I did post one each way bet on the team of Burns and Horschel who looked a rock solid proposition to me and they nearly delivered before ultimately coming up second to the pairing of Cantlay and Schauffele who were outstanding all week.
Still, a small profit was made on the week so we can’t complain too much.
So we move on and this week it is a venture in to the unknown as the PGA Tour heads across the border to Mexico for the Mexico Open.
The Mexico Open was first held in 1944 and in recent years has been part of the PGA Tour of Latino America. This year however after the demise of the WGC Mexico the event has become part of the full PGA Tour schedule.
The event will again be hosted by Grupo Salinas who were the hosts for the former WGC event and is to be held at the Vidanta Vallarta resort in Vallarta.
The field in all honesty lacks strength in depth and the betting market is dominated by Jon Rahm.
Behind Rahm in the market we then have Daniel Berger, Tony Finau and one of the home favourites Abraham Ancer.
The course is a par 71 measuring 7456 yards.
The course features three par fives and a driveable par four seventh hole measuring just under 300yds.
The course is a Greg Norman design so it is worth looking at results at the other two Norman courses used regularly on tour, TPC San Antonio, host of the recent Valero Texas Open and perhaps more significantly El Cameleon host of the Mayakoba also held in Mexico.
The greens are paspalum. Other courses to feature Paspalum greens on Tour are the aforementioned El Cameleon, along with the host courses for the Coralales Puntacana and Puerto Rico events. In addition the now defunct CIMB Classic used to feature Paspalum greens.
As is always the case when a new course is in play there is going to be a fair bit of speculation heading in to the week however an interview given by the Tournament Director last week gave few of the following titbits.
Firstly length of the tee could well be an advantage this week with accuracy off the tee not important as the fairways are wide and the rough not significant.
Wind however could well be a factor particularly in the afternoon.
Water is also fully in play on six or seven holes.
Unlike the former WGC Mexico event altitude is not a factor this week as the course is at sea level.
With it being the first playing of the event there is nothing to see here!
We look set for a warm sunny week with temperatures hitting the 90s.
Wind, which will potentially be the courses main defence looks like it could be a factor with gusts of 20mph in the forecast across the week.
As I always say though this could all change!
I have gone with five players this week as follows;
PATRICK REED – 28/1 – 1.5pts E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED 42nd
I will start things off this week with what seems a fairly obviously pay to me on Patrick Reed.
After a reasonably solid Fall season, which saw Reed post a best result of second by the coast in Bermuda it has been a disappointing 2022 so far for Captain America and to date his only top 20 came on the year opening Sentry ToC.
In his last two stroke play starts however though Patrick appears to have turned a corner with a 26th place at TPC Sawgrass and a solid 35th at Augusta.
Despite this slight upturn there is no doubt that what we have seen from Reed this year is far short of the high standards he has set over recent years however it is his love for this type of track that makes me feel I can’t leave him out this week at the odds.
To expand further and firstly Reed has won and been beaten in a play off on the wide open expanses of Kapalua and he has also won on the wide open Doral layout. Furthermore we know that he loves the similar type of set up that is on display at Albany for the Hero World Challenge.
Basically, anywhere there is a low scoring event on a wide open course in the offing and Patrick can let his short game do the talking with his inaccurate driver not being a factor he is a threat.
Finally, all be it on not quite the same type of layout, he has won by the coast at Torrey Pines on another track where bigger hitters are expected to flourish showing that his lack of length is not hugely key.
Reed by all accounts has been in Mexico since the back end of last week so he has certainly had a good chance to get to grips with the course and having won the WGC Mexico Championship before he clearly enjoys his time there. On that basis I will take a risk that on a course, which really should be right up his alley he can bounce back to form at a nice price allowing for the strength of the field.
CAMERON CHAMP – 45/1 – 1pt e/w – 1/5 odds 1st 8. - FINISHED T6th
Next up in a field where there are question marks about the ability of many of those in two figure odds to close out a win I’ll happily take my chances on a man who has shown on three occasions that he is more than capable of sealing the deal.
The man in question is Cameron Champ and while there is nothing like the fancy three figure odds available this week that we got on him at the 3M Open last year he still looks more than fairly priced in this company.
Since that most recent win the 21/22 has seen Cameron go typically right off the boil however last time out at Augusta he posted his best result of the season by far, a tenth place finish, where he gained strokes in all long game areas and on the greens.
Champ has shown in his time on tour that when he shows signs of form he is a man to latch on to and his 11th place at the John Deere after another barren run was exactly what lead us to him at the 3M.
Meanwhile both of his Fall series wins came on the back of two eye catching showings in his prior starts.
The longest hitter on the PGA Tour if length does prove to be advantageous this week Cameron will certainly benefit and having finished tenth at the Mayakoba in 2018 with a round of 62 to his name we know he can handle the Paspalum.
Champ is a player who when ‘on’ exudes confidence and he admitted after he won at the 3M that he never doubted he was going to close the event out.
Let’s trust then that this week after the spark of life at Augusta he pushes on again and if so he will be a huge threat in this company.
CARLOS ORTIZ – 55/1 - 1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED 51st
The spotlight is sure to be shone on the home players this week with Abraham Ancer a warm order in the market in particular.
From my point of view though while of course Ancer could figure prominently it is Carlos Ortiz who appeals to me far more at much bigger odds.
Looking at Ortiz’ recent run of four straight missed cuts, during, which time he has failed to break 70, it is understandable why the layers are happy to dangle the Mexican at juicy each way odds, however with his record in his home country superb I am happy to take the bait.
Looking at that record and in his last four visits to the Mayakoba Carlos has posted two runner up finishes and an eighth place showing he both thrives in front of the home galleries and on the Paspalum. Furthermore he posted a 16th place in the high quality company of the WGC in Mexico in 2019.
Longer than average off the tee Ortiz should find his length an advantage this week and by all accounts he is very familiar with the course.
The 21/22 campaign has been one long disappointment for the 31yr old so far bar the noteable exception of his second place finish at the Mayakoba where he put a run of MC 47 25 and a WD in his previous start behind him.
Clearly a player then who is inspired in front of his home fans I am happy to take a chance that on a venture in to the unknown Carlos can thrive once more in familiar surroundings and produce a memorable week.
WYNDHAM CLARK – 80/1 - 1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED 67th
Anytime there is talk of length off the tee being key, accuracy unimportant and a coastal test being in play Wyndham Clark’s name is one that springs to mind and with his recent upturn in form he is a must for me this week.
Third in tour in Driving Distance Clark is undoubtedly a tough player to catch right however if we look at his body of work some of his best performances on tour have come by the coast at the Honda, where he has finished seventh and 11th and in Bermuda where he was runner up and in Puerto Rico on the Pasapalum where he was ninth.
2022 has seen some typical up and down efforts from Clark so far however after a barren four weeks, which saw him post three MC’s and be DQ’d at the Genesis he played solidly at the Corales to finish 22nd.
After a down the field finish at the Valero Clark performed solidly at the Heritage posting a 35th place finish and gaining strokes in all long game areas and with his putter, his strongest weapon, along with his distance.
Wyndham is a player who can go AWOL for lengthy periods, something shown by his run of seven missed cuts on the spin last summer, however equally once he starts to build up some momentum he can be a player to watch as he often on the cusp of a big finish or two. From that point of view then having had his confidence boosted further with a top ten alongside Cameron Tringale at the Zurich last week I am happy to chance Clark on a course, which I feel will be to his liking this time out.
JOSEPH BRAMLETT – 150/1 – 1pt e/w – 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED MC
Finally this week I will round off with a speculative play on Joseph Bramlett.
Bramlett is one of a long list of ‘can’t miss kids’ from the past decade or so who are yet to come anywhere close to delivering on the expectations that were held for him when he first came out on tour way back in 2011.
To be fair to Bramlett his career was blighted by a serious back injury, which saw him miss several full seasons and since his return he has battled hard to maintain his card with a visit to the Korn Ferry finals needed in each of the last two seasons.
Last September saw Joseph tee it up in the Korn Ferry Tour Championship and after ten years on and off the various tours he finally landed a well earnt victory, which saw him bag full playing rights for the 21/22 season on the PGA Tour.
Buoyed by that win you would perhaps have expected the Californian to push on and finally fulfil his potential this campaign however to date it has once again been a struggle with nothing better than a 20th place in Hawaii to his name.
So why risk Joseph this week then? Well looking at his stats and time on tour to date I just have a hunch that this weeks venue might be a great fit for him. Firstly with length off the tee potentially being key we have in Bramlett a player who while inaccurate ranks sixth in driving distance. Then with the thought that the course will place more accent on the second shot this week we have a player who’s strongest suit is in his approach play and who currently ranks 26th in good old fashioned GIR.
Moving on and if we then look at Joseph’s CV over his time on tour we will see that a lot of his best efforts have come on Coastal tracks and that he has shown up well on events held on Paspalum greens.
To expand on this further and 2020 saw him post a top ten on the Paspalum in Puerto Rico, which correlates well here, along with a top 20 in Pebble Beach, while 2021 saw him finish 13th on the Paspalum at the Corales and land a top 20 at Torrey Pines where he made his distance count.
Furthermore having won on the Korn Ferry with a -20 total and having produced his best finish on the PGA Tour last year of seventh with a -19 total [on another new course] Joseph appears to be a player to have on side when low scoring is the order of the day.
UPDATED 26th APRIL
FANTASY DRAFT KINGS PICKS
PICK 1 - KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT - DK VALUE $6900 - FINISHED 61st - DK POINTS 76.5
First up in this section this week I'll take my chances with Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
The Thai has always struck me as the type of player who is at his best when there is a bit of room off the tee, which is certainly the case this week.
The 'Barnrat' has winning form on the Paspalum in Malaysia and has also performed solidly on the surface recently in Puerto Rico and at the Corales on a run, which has seen him make his last three solo cuts. Throw in some positive vibes in Mexico from a couple of really strong WGC efforts over the years and I xpect him to be with us for all four days this week.
PICK 2 - BILL HAAS - DK VALUE $6700 - FINISHED 59th - DK POINTS - 73.5
Another player who has been on a solid cut making run of late is Bill Haas.
The former Fedex Cup Champion who is playing on lifetime money list exemption this season has now made his last six solo cuts on tour without being able to find the one or two big weeks he needs. Clearly though he is playing some solid stuff.
Last week Haas teamed up with his Father Jay to play the Zurich helping the older Haas break the record for the oldest player to make a cut on the PGA Tour.
Following on from what I am sure was an inspirational week for him I just have a hunch that Haas might be buoyed to up his level further and produce a big week and I am happy to chance him here at the price.