The PGA Tour resumes this week with a loaded cast at the WGC-Mexico Championships which tees off on February 21 at the Club de Golf Chapultepec in Naucalpan, Mexico.
Phil Mickelson is the defending champion of this no-cut tournament which has a total purse of $10,250,000 and which will earn the champion 550 FedExCup points. Lefty ended the longest drought of his career-a dry spell of 101 starts, with a win here last year. Mickelson edged out Justin Thomas in sudden death after the latter forced a playoff with an electrifying 72nd hole eagle. Mickelson also became the oldest player to win a World Golf Championships Title last year at 47 years, 8 months and 16 days.
This year’s field includes 47 out of the Top 50 players in the world with only #1 Justin Rose, #11 Jason Day and #33 Adam Scott skipping the event. Last week’s Genesis Open winner J.B. Holmes is also making a pass due to a family vacation.
Here are the list of favorites to win the WGC-Mexico Championship. Odds taken from Bet365 as of 2/19/19:
Who Are the Favorites?
At +1000, it’s not hard to put Justin Thomas on top of the oddsboard for the WGC-Mexico Championship because he played a near spotless first 54 holes at last week’s Genesis Open. Forget the fact that Thomas faded and closed out with a final round score of 75 which enabled J.B. Holmes to win the tournament by one stroke after registering a one-under par in the 4th round.
And yes, don’t forget Thomas’ electrifying eagle hole out on the 72nd hole of the WGC-Mexico last year that sent him to a playoff with Phil Mickelson. Lefty eventually won but after that debacle and last week’s runner-up finish at the Riviera is enough to expect another big week performance from a man who practically has no weakness in his game.
Rory McIlroy comes next at +1100 as he is off to a fast start this year. The Ulsterman opened his 2019 campaign with a T4 finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua and then followed that up with a T5 performance at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Then of course, McIlroy finished T4 at the recently concluded Genesis Open at the Riviera last week.
Given his impressive start, it’s safe to expect that he is going to put it all together very soon, much like what he did at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year where he broke away from the pack with five birdies in his last six holes. Remember also that Rory finished 7th in 2017 when he made his tournament debut.
I expected more from Dustin Johnson last week. I mean Riviera was a course he loves to play in but that’s another story. Despite that, Johnson has two Top-10 finishes in three tournaments this year: a T9 last week and a T4 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions last month. The Dustinator comes in tied with Rory McIlroy at 2nd in the oddsboard at +1100 and given that one of the longest hitters in the game who is at the peak of his super powers and hasn’t won yet this year, the next tournament could be it.
Jon Rahm is the next favorite at +1600. After closing out his 2018 campaign with a title winning performance at the Hero World Challenge last December, Spaniard is also off to a good start this year. Rahm has finished in the Top 10 in all five Tournaments he’s played in so far in 2019. Rahm recorded a T8 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, 6th at the Desert Classic, T5 in the Farmers Insurance Open, T10 in the Waste Management Phoenix Open and T9 with six players including Dustin Johnson last week at the Riviera.
Xander Schauffele at +2200 presents good value to me. The X-man finished T18 in his tournament debut last year and he hasn’t finished outside the Top-25 since a T48 at the CJ Cup last October. Schauffele won the Sentry Tournament of Champions last month and has also good motive to win this tournament. A victory at the WGC-Mexico Championships will make him join Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson as the only golfers to win back-to-back WGC’s following his WGC-HSBC Champions triumph last fall. A win this weekend will also put him back on top of the FedExCup chart.
Lastly, don’t count out Phil Mickelson at +2800. If you do so, do at your own risk. Phil failed me last week with his T-37 finish at the Genesis Open. But remember that after finishing T7 at the WGC-Mexico in 2017, Lefty ended a five-year drought with a big victory over Justin Thomas last year. We know he is very comfortable playing here but it’s not just his resume in Chapultepec that makes me want him again this week. Mickelson is in good form as he is two weeks removed from winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am and also finished T2 in the Desert Classic last month, a tournament where he shot a 60 in round one.
Any of these six men would be a good pick but personally, I’m going with the X-Man in this tournament.
Prediction: I mean Justin Thomas is coming off a strong week and Dustin Johnson is always a threat but I like the value of Xander Schauffele here. He’s young and on the rise and he’s playing consistent golf right now.