The WGC Championships Mexico preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
There’s a fella outside my local Co-Op who habitually approaches anyone daring to enter with “any spare change”. I always thought he bore a striking resemblance to Kuch. The Genesis Open nearly saw us collecting with Rory’s late charge but the real stories on tour are the current villains and in a way it’s all so much more interesting. Spare Change Kuch’s story will not die – no matter what he does and given he’s heading back to Mexico there’s legs left in this one. JB’s epically slow play and Sergio’s run in with rule 2b were somehow spared the microscope last week as in the outrage stakes they simple couldn’t compete with Spare Change Kuch’s bumbling attempts to emerge with some dignity – and to save some corporate credibility. But enough of the fun – there’s a tournament to win!
The second WGC of the season heads to Club de Golf Chapultepec a small greened, tree-lined par 71 now hosting this event for the third time. At 7,340 and 7,500 ft above sea level this place does not play long. Driver will not get the usual outing it does in a regular PGA Tour event. The last two winners, Dustbin in 2017 and Milky last year, would seem to suggest it’s a power course but in theory anyone should be able to win – if they can keep it in play. A limited filed of 72 with around half the filed having played here before and 24 coming back for the third time the cream has enough experience here now to have no excuses.
As with all high quality limited field events the top players are generally in form and a case can be made for most. Maybe not Jordan despite his 12th and 14th placed results here as his game seems literally all over the place. Given his immense talent it’s hard to believe he can be backed at nearly 50/1. The head of the market is littered with chances including Justin who despite seeming to throw away the Geneis is in awesome form. He’s not so green as to not recognise that golf can eat you so it will be interesting to see if he can compete and maintain a run of form littered with top fives. Throw in his 5th and 2nd in the last two running’s of this event and he deserves his place as favourite. Dustbin posted a top ten last week when seemingly on the verge of missing the cut. Rory’s form is rock solid and only lacks a W – plus he’s the top dog tee to green and finished a solid 7th here on his only start in 2017.
The expanded field includes a lot of players who will not be so comfortable on these quickish greens nor the rarefied quality of the field. I’m not discounting them but a third of the field have never played here. Contrast that with the quality at the front end of the market and their form / experience and its hard to differentiate between so many.
On that basis we will keep it tight with a few win only wagers on two players with great form and one with potential. No new stable additions this week.
Rory McIlroy 1pt win at 15 BF
Xander Schauffele 1pt win at 32 BF
Tyrrell Hatton 1pt win at 90 BF
Rory McIlroy (last week) has never won for us I’m told. We don’t give up that easy. With his newfound PGA Tour centric approach Rory has peeled off a 4th and 5th on courses he’d never seen. Three weeks off and totally focused on his schedule that is based on the first three majors his game looks in ominous shape. Two starts here have produced two 20ths but even here his form is progressive. Just 1 shot off the lead last year he posted his worst round on Sunday. At a venue that suits his game the expected soft conditions play even more to his strength. So Rory maintains his streak with us having never won. Nothing about his form has changed my mind in that he looks poised to win and if the market keeps offering double figures I see no reason not to keep backing him. The top dog off the tee and 3rd approaching the greens Rory led this event in 2017 heading into the weekend when his game was nowhere near where it is now. I suspect he will bring out some of the more shaped shots he’s been using recently to manage his way around here. He brings any semblance of his current form and he’s in contention on Sunday.
Xander Schauffele has rocketed up the rankings over the last 18 months to establish himself as a top ten fixture. Perhaps because of his size or demeanour he isn’t perceived as a serious threat but his size belies his game. He’s long. Not Rory, Dustbin, Brooks long, but long enough. Not that length will be a factor her. What’s really to like about Xander is his spirit. Looking for all the world like missing the cut at Riviera he rallied to not only make the cut but finish 15th including a 69 on Sunday in challenging conditions. Off the back of a previous top 10, and 25th and a win – to take his PGA Tour tally to 4 – he’s no mug around Club de Golf Chapultepec either. Making his debut here last year he opened with 65 / 68 to sit just off the lead before a 1 under 70 on Saturday was followed by a disappointing 74 on the Sunday. That all meant an 18th place. A year on he’s a better player reflected in his OWGR at 7th.
Tyrrell Hatton (last week) is another stable star who we’ll pin our hopes on despite making his debut here. The 30th best player on the planet goes off a big price given his ability to score. Yes he’s crackers but who cares? Hatton’s stats are almost as bonkers as he is. 9th in strokes gained off the tee he then plummets to 209th for strokes gained approaching the green. It looks to me as if he comes up and out of it but whatever it is it will be a temporary affliction or else he won’t be ranked 30th for long. Then we get to his 1st place in the strokes gained around the green, 6th strokes gained tee to green and 8th strokes gained total. His form reads: MC, 38th and 15th – looks good to me. If anyone can buck the novice trend it’s Hatton. Ok so he didn’t buck the trend missing the cut. So why back up with him here? The fundamentals behind Hatton as mentioned above don’t change because of a missed cut. Coming here for his third outing Hatton has a serious liking for the place. Tenth on debut in 2017 at just 5 shots of the winner he bettered that last year with a 1 shot third. His scoring average here is 68 and his price is 99/1. Hatton has proven he likes it here and can get hot with the putter – the stick that usually decides the winners.