A stacked field hops over the future wall and over the border to Mexico for this week’s WGC-Mexico Championship.
This is the first year the event is being played at Club de Golf Chapultepec (which translates to Club of Golf Chapultepec) after years of being played at legendary Doral.
Former commissioner Tim Finchem moved the event from the iconic Donald Trump-owned Doral last year citing the tour’s desire to continue their international expansion, but the former member of Bill Clinton’s White House isn’t fooling anyone with that reasoning.
A limited 77 player field with 49 of the top-50 players in the world are in Mexico City and a star-studded leaderboard is almost a certainty.
The theme of this week will be the elevation. The course sits at approximately 7,000 feet above sea level, so expect the ball to go far.
In this week’s practice rounds, players have spoken of how far the ball is carrying. Dustin Johnson said that he is hitting his pitching wedge 180 yards and Rory McIlroy is hitting 210 yard eight-irons.
Although the ball will be flying outrageous distances, this track is extremely narrow. The tree-lined fairways place a premium on driving accuracy and players could have tree troubles even if they find the short grass.
Precision will outweigh power this week. For as much early publicity the long drives have received, the short hitters are the ones who will benefit from the distance increase. If anything, the altitude could take the driver out of the hands of some of the bombers.
This course is an unknown for all of the players in the field. Rarely does such a big-time event go to such an unknown course, but whomever is able to do the most effective homework during the practice rounds will have a significant advantage.
Last Year’s Event:
Adam Scott was victorious last year. It was Scott’s second win in as many weeks as the Aussie won the Honda the week before. Scott broke through a stacked leaderboard that included the likes of Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, and Danny Willett.
Scott clinched the win with an impressive up-and-down on the 18th after nearly hitting the ball in the water.
Most Memorable Moment:
Although technically not the same tournament, the 2005 dual between Tiger and Phil at Doral is the most memorable moment. The duo traded punches throughout the final round in one of the rare head-to-head matchups of their careers. I would argue that the 2005 event is the most memorable non-major since 2000.
Zach Johnson: As mentioned before, shorter hitters will reap the rewards of the altitude and Johnson falls into that category. With the playing field somewhat leveled, many of the players will have similar yardages for approach shot and that is a tremendous advantage for Johnson who is often two or three clubs shorter than some of the big hitters.
Otter Room Pick:
Hideki Matsuyama (-14): Yes, he missed the cut in his most recent start at Riviera, but it is hard to go against the hottest player in the world for the last five months. Matsuyama won the first WGC event of the 16-17 season in China