The TOUR makes its way to Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, for the Mexico Open at Vidanta Vallarta. The course will play as a par 71, measuring 7,456 yards with paspalum greens. The field is set at 144 golfers, and the top 65 and ties will make the cut. This is the first year the tournament is an officially sanctioned event on TOUR, which means 500 FedEx points go to the winner, and all of the exemptions that come along with a PGA TOUR win.
The golfers will be able to hit drivers off of most tees with large landing areas, and the rough won’t be an issue other than little to no rollout on paspalum. True to Norman designs, the greens are big, with some undulations and guarded by cavernous bunkers. The greenside sand traps are part of the 106 total bunkers throughout the course. Six lakes meander through the property and come into play on 11 of the 18 holes. Every hole on this coastal course will feature views of the Ameca River and the Sierra Madres, which only benefits us as viewers, less the golfers. Tournament Director Rodrigo Suarez Gilly appeared on the “Tap It In” podcast and mentioned they expect a lot of wind in the afternoon that usually picks up around lunchtime.
Nine holes have been altered and eight lengthened from the original design. One modified hole was no. 4, which was lengthened and changed from a par 5 to a 530-yard par 4. The 16th was shortened but also changed from a par 5 to a par 4. Two par 5s measure over 600 yards and the two holes changed to par 4s now measure over 500 yards, so distance should play a factor when building daily fantasy golf lineups. The scorecard also features five par 3s, ranging from 170 to 226 yards.
Paspalum greens usually play slow, but Gilly said they’re planning to have it roll at 12 on the stimpmeter, which could play faster than most tournaments with the same grass. Courses with paspalum grass on TOUR include the Corales Golf Course (Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship), El Camaleon Golf Club (Mayakoba Golf Classic El Cameleon de Mayakoba), Coco Beach Golf and CC (Puerto Rico Open) and the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island (2021 PGA Championship).
Other Greg Norman designs on TOUR are El Cameleon de Mayakoba and the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.
Jon Rahm ($11,300)
His short game issues are concerning, but like last week with Team Cantlay/Schauffele, this might be an event to play the best player(s) in your daily fantasy lineups. The former world No. 1 golfer is gaining an average of just under two strokes total per round over the past 24 rounds on courses over 7,400 yards, which is best in the field. Rahm ranks among the best in driving distance and finished top 10 at the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, another coastal course with windy conditions and paspalum greens. This week won’t be as difficult as a major, and the course might not be Rahm’s preferred playing conditions, but it’ll be hard to fade the best player in the world, especially if he goes under-rostered this week.
Matt Jones ($9,000)
A runner-up finish at the Valero Texas Open came as a result of an all-around performance tee-to-green, and we’ve recently seen Jones gain over three strokes with irons, which works on any course, especially a coastal track that can get windy. If we filter strokes gained total on courses over 7,400 yards, Jones ranks fourth over the past 24 rounds and sixth in birdies or better gained. He has a top-15 and top-5 finish at the Puerto Rico Open and finishes of 14-18-28 at the Corales.
Patrick Rodgers ($7,600)
After a decent showing at the Zurich Classic, let’s go back to Rodgers this week now that he’s seen some positive signs in his game. He and Brandon Wu finished 21st, and Rodgers was responsible for much of the team’s success. About half of his scores were used in the best ball formats and the team was T8 at the halfway point. They couldn’t keep pace on the weekend, but it was a promising performance from one of the longer hitters on TOUR. He’s made the cut in all three of his starts at the Puerto Rico Open and finished 11th in Corales (2020). We should also consider Nate Lashley ($7,500) in this range. Lashley gained 6.1 strokes on approach at Valero and has finishes of seventh (2022) and eighth (2021) at the Puerto Rico Open. He’s also done well on similar courses while on the Korn Ferry Tour (KFT), finishing top 5 at the Great Exuma Classic in the Bahamas (a coastal course with similar greens) and winning the Corales Puntacana Championship when it was a KFT event.
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