The PGA TOUR added a second event in Mexico this year and it’s set to go off this week. The Mexico Open will take place in Vidanta Vallarta, a Greg Norman designed venue that is located close to the touristy Puerto Vallarta and located near the Western coastline of Mexico. The field this year won’t be star-studded. Only six of the world’s top-50 players are in attendance, so there will be lots of opportunities to grab points for those lower down in the FedExCup standings.
Jon Rahm—the current world No. 2—is playing, as is Daniel Berger and Mexican native Abraham Ancer. This figures to be a wide open event though and we could easily see a few players like Rafa Cabrera-Bello or Cameron Champ—who have done almost nothing to this point in the season—make some noise this week. Despite the lack of star power, this is a full 144-man field and the cut will take place on its usual spot this Friday, with the top-65 players and ties making the weekend.
Vidanta Vallarta (designer: Greg Norman)
7,456 yards, par-71; Greens: Paspalum
The course this week will be new to the PGA TOUR rotation but it is one we have pretty good intel on. By all reports, the Vidanta Vallarta will play as an expansive Par 71 for the pros, with wider fairways, but also with plenty of water and bunkering in play to test players.
To get to the venue players will apparently have to travel across a huge river on a suspension bridge, so logistics this week could be interesting. The resort course is situated around six mini-lakes and there are over 100 bunkers in play as well. From a design standpoint, it does sound Vidanta may be a beefed-up version of Norman’s other Mexican course, El Camaleón, which hosts the Mayakoba Classic every season.
The layout will be interesting as well as the course typically sets up as a par 73 for amateurs with six (yes six) par 5s. This week though, at least two of those par 5s look ready to play as par 4s, which should beef up scoring and stop this from becoming another 30-under birdie-fest, similar to what we saw early in the season in Maui (another par 73 setup). The greens this week will also be Paspalum, a common grass in tropical climates. Past history on these greens could help players as they tend to play slower and can be harder to read because of the speeds and grain.
With water and bunkers likely providing the largest defenses for the course, expect iron play and around the green play to make the most difference this week. Both of Norman’s PGA TOUR venues (El Camaleón and TPC San Antonio) could be used as corollaries for the week, and I’d also look at past results from a venue like TPC Twin Cities, which hosts the 3M Open every year. It also has larger fairways and plenty of water/bunkers that the players must maneuver around.
2022 Weather outlook: As of now, the weather this week looks set to be mostly a non-factor, which is likely exactly what the PGA TOUR wanted to see when heading to Mexico in April. Highs will be in the low to mid-90s F (afternoon) for all four days and winds (which can get up in the spring) aren’t set to rise much above 10 mph at any time (as of writing). It’s an ideal forecast which may only hamper afternoon starters just due to the more extreme type of heat they’ll face. Friday afternoon has highs in the 97F range, but Thursday afternoon players may get a slight break in that regard with highs closer to the low 90F range. It’s likely a small edge but something to consider, nonetheless.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value compared to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
1. Kevin Na ($10,100; T26-T14): Na posted a strong top-20 at the Masters and backed it up with another top-30 at the RBC Heritage. His form isn’t scintillating, but considering the field, he does deserve top spot this week for his strong play of late in tougher fields like the Masters and the Match Play.
2. Anirban Lahiri ($7,900; T3-T26): Remember this guy? He nearly won THE PLAYERS in March and has backed that up with a T13 at the Valero and four made cuts in a row. He has a lot of experience playing on Paspalum greens overseas and continues to play extremely solid golf.
3. Kevin Chappell (T3-T3): It’s not 2017, but with some of the names in the field this week it might feel that way. Chappell grabbed his only win back in ‘17 but has started to finally show some better form. He made his fourth straight cut at the team event last week and had gone T15-T18 in stroke play events prior to that. The talent is still there and he could potentially do something great this week.
4. Tyler Duncan ($7,200; T10-T14): Another name we have not heard from in a while. Duncan won the RSM in 2018 and has now posted top-30s in three of his last four starts. At the RBC Heritage, he grabbed a T12 and gained +3.4 strokes putting and around the greens combined.
5. Brendon Todd ($9,300; T26-T4): The three-time PGA TOUR winner shows up here in form that is progressively heating up. He grabbed a T21 with partner Chris Kirk last week at the team event and has now posted three top-30 finishes in a row. His putter remains his best club but his approach play has been gaining him strokes lately too, which makes him dangerous in lower-scoring events like the one we’re likely to get this week.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Kevin Na and Charles Howell III reliable veterans to lean on
Obviously, we have the option of paying up for Jon Rahm ($11,300) this week, but you don’t need me to tell you that playing a guy who is +350 to this event on DraftKings Sportsbook is a good idea. If you’re looking for a more balanced approach or simply a partner for Rahm, then both Patrick Reed ($10,000) and Kevin Na ($10,100) rate out as a great duo. Na is playing much better golf of late, landing a T14 at the Masters and T26 at the RBC Heritage, gaining over +4.0 strokes on approach at Hilton Head. Reed has looked like he’s climbing out of the hole lately, landing two made cuts in a row and showing improved ball-striking stats. He’s a former winner in Mexico (2020) and is no stranger to playing across the world. Other potential targets for this format include: Brendon Todd ($9,300), Charles Howell III ($8,400) and Tyler Duncan ($7,200).
Tournaments: Wise and Riley, two young players who can dominate
This event has the chance of turning into a birdie-fest if the winds stay down and greens are receptive, which are both likely to happen. Both Aaron Wise ($9,500) and Davis Riley ($8,500) rank in the top-15 for birdies or better gained over the last 50 rounds, with Riley actually ranking second, just behind Jon Rahm. Riley came close to winning at the Valspar (playoff loss), while Wise showed improved form at the RBC Heritage with great iron play. Both seem like great GPP targets this week. Other potential targets for this format include Wyndham Clark ($7,600 - see below) and Peter Uihlein ($7,000).
MY PICK: C.T. Pan ($8,100)
As far as mid-tier players who are trending well and could surprise this week, C.T. Pan rates out as an intriguing name. The winner of the 2019 RBC Heritage has had a knack for getting himself into contention a few times a year since joining the PGA TOUR, having already posted five finishes of T4 or better on the PGA TOUR since 2018 (including his 2019 win). The Taiwanese pro has been trending well of late too, making the cut in five of his last six starts dating back the Genesis, and has now gained strokes on his Approaches in five straight starts.
It’s going to be tough to peg exactly what kind of golfer we should be targeting this week, but Vidanta Vallarta doesn’t look overly difficult off the tee which should put more emphasis on approach games and around/on the green play. Pan’s short game has been solid of late and he’s proven to be a good “spike putter”, gaining +5.0 strokes or more on the greens in four events since the start of 2020. Pan has also had success on another Greg Norman design, El Camaleón, which hosts the Mayakoba Classic—Pan’s made the cut there in each of his five visits and posted multiple top-20s. With trending form, he makes for a good upside target for balanced lineup approaches in DFS and looks like a decent outright target on DraftKings Sportsbook at +6000 this week.
MY SLEEPER: Wyndham Clark ($7,600)
Clark has shown the ability to get up for these weaker-field events. The American has landed two top-five finishes on the PGA TOUR since 2019 (2019 3M Open and 2020 Bermuda Championship) and both came in events with strengths of field that would rate out in the bottom 20% for the PGA TOUR for that respective season. Clark has also found himself in contention in Fall events like the 2020 Shriners, so this week should be a welcome sight for him as he’ll just have a few top players to deal with.
As for fit and recent form, the wider fairways at Vidanta Vallarta should be great for a player who ranks third in driving distance but 195th in driving accuracy. Clark’s approach game has also been trending nicely as it gained him +2.8 strokes on the field at the RBC Heritage (T35) and looked solid again last week in team event—where he and Cameron Tringale grabbed a T10. Seeing Clark get in contention this week wouldn’t be shocking for a variety of reasons and at $7,600 he makes for the kind of upside target we should be liking in this weaker-field event for daily fantasy golf purposes.
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