It won’t be the same class of course this week at the WGC-Mexico Championship, to say the least, but an even stronger field than last week’s Genesis Open will tee it up for the first WGC of 2019. Phil Mickelson returns to defend his title he earned over Justin Thomas in a playoff last season, and he’ll be joined by another 40-something guy by the name of Tiger Woods. Big Cat will play in just his second WGC event since 2014.
Let’s take a look at this week’s contest.
What: WGC-Mexico Championship | When: Feb. 21-24
Where: Club de Golf Chapultepec — Naucalpan, Mexico
Ranking the field (odds)
Field strength — A+: Of the top 50 in the world, only Justin Rose, Jason Day, Adam Scott and J.B. Holmes are sitting this one out. It’s as good as fields get at non-majors, and easily the best we’ve seen so far in 2019.
Three things to know
1. Genesis exodus: I’m curious to see if there’s a hangover from those who played Riviera all week. Tiger looked toasted by the end of the week and said there was no chance he was going to touch his clubs on Monday. What about the guys playing for the third (or fourth?!) straight week?
2. The WGC wins total: How is it affected? Maybe I’m the only one who cares about Tiger’s 18 WGC wins and that Dustin Johnson is second with five (yes, five), but I’m curious to see if Phil Mickelson can get his fourth or if Matsuyama, McIlroy or Watson can join the group at three.
3. Phil will almost definitely try to speak Spanish: Don’t fall for it!
The WGC-Mexico Championship is this week. Phil back at the scene of many crimes. Never forget. pic.twitter.com/vgCLX3c7zj
— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) February 18, 2019
One story I’m following
Remember when Indian Shubhankar Sharma stole the show last year by getting into the final group with Mickelson and Tyrrell Hatton? He’s had a wild last 12 months and notched another top 10 at the CIMB Classic in the fall. I’m curious to see if he can recapture a little of that magic we saw last season at this event.
Woods is the seven-time winner here, even though he’s technically never played this course. He won all over the world; this event has been played at seven courses in five countries, but this will be his first taste of an, uh, interesting venue in Chapultepec.
Combined score to par in WGC stroke play tournaments, all-time:
Tiger Woods -256
All other players combined +5,341
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) February 18, 2019
- 2018: Phil Mickelson
- 2017: Dustin Johnson
- 2016: Adam Scott
- 2015: Dustin Johnson
- 2014: Patrick Reed
WGC-Mexico Championship picks
Winner: I’m here for it! Matsuyama has been quietly making hay this year, and is one of just five golfers gaining over a stroke per round on the field with his approach shots. The best version of Hideki is one who’s ball-striking the crap out of it (which he is).
Top 10: Three top-three finishes in his last four events, and he hit the shot of the year on this course on his 72nd hole last year. Seems a little easy.
Sleeper: The only players to post top 10s in both of the events at this course are Mickelson, Thomas, Johnson and … Tyrrell Hatton.