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2018 WGC Mexico Championship Course Preview

2018 WGC Mexico Championship Course Preview
Matt Rumack February 27, 2018 1:22AM EDT
2018 WGC Mexico Championship Course Preview 1

Course Preview for the 2018 WGC Mexico Championship

Course: Club de Golf Chapultepec (Naucalpan, Mexico)

Yardage:  7,330- Par 71

Purse: $10 Million

Field: 65 players

Recent WGC Mexico Championship Winners

2013 Tiger Woods
2014 Patrick Reed
2015 Dustin Johnson
2016 (Cadillac Championship pre-2016) Adam Scott
2017 Dustin Johnson

Honda Classic Win Makes It 8 Career Victories for Justin Thomas

What a show by Justin Thomas! Approaching the 72nd hole, Thomas was tied at seven under with his playing partner Luke List. In two shots, List was on the Par 5 18th already, just 33 feet away from the eagle while Thomas laid up to 117 yards out. Up and down from 117 to force a playoff? No problem. Thomas stuck his wedge to what was essentially “gimme range” and went on to birdie the first playoff hole, while Luke List scattered his shots everywhere but straight.

Thomas is quickly putting together a Hall of Fame-worthy career. With his victory at the Honda Classic, he became the third player in the last 30 years to pick up his eighth career victory before the age of 25. The other two are Tiger Woods and his buddy Jordan Spieth. Seven of those eight victories have come in the last 16 months. The kid is simply better than everyone out there when he’s playing his game. There’ll be plenty more to come from Thomas. I just hope that this is the year we see Thomas, Dustin Johnson, and Jordan Spieth all battle it out on a Sunday at a major.

Tour Dumps Trump’s Course

The Tour heads across the border next for the WGC-Mexico Championship. Previously called the Cadillac Championship, the Tour decided to move away from Donald Trump’s Blue Monster course at Trump National Doral in 2016. For the second year, the WGC event will be held in the suburbs of Mexico City at Club de Golf Chapultepec. For those of you who don’t speak Spanish or feel like googling it, the English translation would be the Grasshopper Hill Golf Club. As a WGC event, we have a souped-up field that consists of players who rank inside the Top 50 in the world along with various money leaders from different Tours around the world for a total of 65 players in the event.

Top 90 Percent

It’s easier to tell you who’s not playing in this tournament with 45 of the Top 50 in attendance this week. With just Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, and the injured Brooks Koepka as the only Top 50 players missing, this will be the strongest field we will pick from until the Masters next month. Also, there’s no Tiger Woods this week. However, if you thought Tiger Woods was still in the Top 50 or a 2017 money leader, then you probably haven’t checked up on golf in a few years.

Dustin Johnson is the only previous winner at the event since its move to Mexico, so there’s only one year of actual course history to check. However, looking at a player’s history at other WGC events or majors can give you an idea of who’s likely to step up in events with stronger fields. Normally, a Par 71, 7,330-yard golf course playing to Par 71 is somewhere in the average to slightly above average length for Tour players. Not this week. Chapultepec sits over 7,600 feet above sea-level. At that altitude, these guys are going to destroy the ball.

Key Statistics2018 WGC Mexico Championship Course Preview

Strokes gained: approach

Birdie or better % 125-150 yards

Par 4 Scoring

Good Drive %

Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green

I went to school in New Mexico in a town that sat at about 3,000 feet above sea level, and I easily gained an extra 10 yards in the air on my irons and possibly more off the tee. At this altitude, I estimate that a 7,330-yard golf course really plays a good number below 7,000 yards. With essentially everyone able to hit it 300-plus yards this week, the short-iron and wedge game will be far more important. Strokes gained: approach will come into play more than gaining distance or accuracy off the tee. There are half a dozen holes that play around 400 or less, so your great wedge players will dominate. Birdie or better % from 125-150 yards and scoring well on the Par 4s will go a long way here.

On most of the holes, a player can hit long irons into that range, and the altitude will allow them to bomb it into that range even on the 450-500 yarders. The course’s main defense is the tree-lined fairways making accuracy off the tee important. Because of the altitude, many players will be able to club down off the tee, so good drive % is more important than the driving accuracy stat. With scant history to draw from and not a ton of information overall on Chapultepec, it never hurts to find the best tee-to-green players. Nobody really has any more course knowledge than anyone else. The best way to gain an advantage is to be the best player from the tee to the green and hopefully, make the putt too, but putting is like basketball, it’s a make-or-miss game.

 Justin Thomas Photo Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

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