WGC-Mexico Championship Betting, DFS Picks: Hitting the Mid-Tier Values

WGC-Mexico Championship Betting, DFS Picks: Hitting the Mid-Tier Values article feature image

The PGA Tour hops down from the Florida swing to Mexico City for the WGC-Mexico Championship. It’s a prestigious event with a big purse, so the field is loaded, as expected. Money is great, but the entertainment value of the course is even better, given how much longer these guys can hit the ball at elevation. Tune in for the massive drives and also for the local announcers. Justin Thomas had a hole-in-one last year, and the local color yelled “Hooooooolllllllle (in one)” like Lionel Messi just wrapped up a hat trick.

Here’s everything you need to know from a betting and DFS perspective before the tourney tees off at 12:15 p.m. ET on Thursday, including five guys with enticing odds to win the tournament, and a slew of underpriced players in DFS.  Bryan Mears

The Field

A small but elite group is headed to Mexico for the first World Golf Championship of the year. Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka, Henrik Stenson and Tiger Woods are essentially the only stars not in attendance.

Dustin Johnson is atop the board as the favorite at +600, followed by Justin Thomas at +800. Next up are Jordan Spieth and Jon Rahm at +1200. We also have Tommy Fleetwood, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler in the +1600 to +1800 range. — Joshua Perry

The Course

Club de Golf Chapultepec will host the tournament for the second time, and it plays just about as short as any course on the PGA Tour.

It checks in at around 7,200 yards for a Par 71, but players will see the ball fly 10 to 15 percent farther than usual due to the elevation. (Mexico City is about 7,000 feet above sea level.) That brings the playable distance to the 6,200- to 6,500-yard range.

It’s a small sample size (this is only the second year the event will be held in Mexico), but in 2017, total driving seemed to pop up as the key stat, with a lean toward the bombers.

Guys like Johnson and Rahm were able to reach the Par 5s in two with a hybrid or 2-iron off the tee and a mid iron into the green simply because of the altitude. The longer hitters will have a lot of wedges in, and it can turn into a pitch and putt for them.

The course has also drawn comparisons to Riviera because of the grass type: It also has the kikuyu fairways and poa annua/bentgrass greens. And there were some similarities between the 2017 Genesis Open and the WGC: Mexico.

Johnson won both tournaments, and Thomas Pieters tied for second at Riviera and fifth in Mexico. — Joshua Perry

Using the FantasyLabs Trends tool, we can back-test a variety of metrics to see what types of players do well at Chapultepec. Unfortunately, they moved to this course just last year, so the sample size on course data is small. Still, it can provide an edge. The baseline golfer last year produced a -2.50 DraftKings Plus/Minus. From there, I looked at how golfers in the top-20 percentile of each metric have historically fared at this course. Here’s the data:

Driving Distance is definitely important, although it is notable that the three metrics at the top are all recent-form data points. In particular, players last season who excelled in Recent Par 3 scoring and Recent GIR outperformed expectations. Long shots that put a player in position for birdies are important, but I definitely want the best ball-strikers as well. If a player has both skills in their repertoire, bingo.

At FantasyLabs, you can build PGA Models using the metrics listed above. You get 100 points to allocate to any metric, and the model will adjust based on the weights. I optimized a model this week based on last year’s Chapultepec data, and the model’s highest-rated player is none other than … Justin Thomas. Since that’s a bit anticlimactic, I’ll give No. 2 as well: Justin Rose. — Bryan Mears

The Favorites

Betting angle: I’ll be backing Tommy Fleetwood at +1600. Fleetwood was second here last year and is coming off a fourth-place finish at the Honda Classic where he was in the lead with about six holes left. His ball-striking stats were as good as anyone’s last week, as he finished in the top 10 in strokes gained off the tee, approach and around the green. He was also second overall in strokes gained: tee to green. — Joshua Perry

DFS spin: Justin Thomas is fresh off a win at the ferocious PGA National and comes in with second-highest odds to win at 11.1 percent. Thomas found success at Chapultepec last year with a fifth-place finish and even got a hole-in-one on No. 13. More importantly, Thomas has crushed the 2018 PGA season with back-to-back top-10s, with his worst finish being a 22nd. He’s an excellent fit for this course, as he ranks inside the top-four in LT and Recent DD. Thomas leads the field with his 67.0 Recent Adj Rd Score, and his LT Adj Rd Score (68.2) and LT Adj Bird Avg (16.1) both rank inside the top-five. — Justin Bailey

For more fantasy analysis, listen to the PGA Flex guys break down this week’s tournament.

Mid-Tier

Betting angle: I’ll be backing three players in this range: Sergio Garcia (+2800), Patrick Cantlay (+3300) and Tyrrell Hatton (+4500, pictured above).

Garcia shook off some rust last week in Florida, where he played for the first time in nearly a month. I like his ability off the tee combined with his iron game, where he finished fifth in strokes gained: approach last week. If the putter gets going at all, he can contend here.

The Cantlay pick is a little bit about the Riviera parallel. We saw Johnson and Pieters duplicate performances on both courses, and Cantlay is coming off a fourth-place finish at Riviera two weeks ago. The short game is Cantlay’s only real hole at the moment, so if his irons are dialed in and he can avoid any sand around the greens, he should be able to compete here.

Finally, Hatton, finished in 10th place here last year despite battling some… well… let’s call them stomach issues.

Hatton missed the cut last week at the Honda, but I’m not too worried about that. A few water balls sunk him early in the second round, but he closed strong with a 2-under par back nine when he could have just given up for the week. Prior to the missed cut, he hadn’t finished out of the top 20 in any tournament in five months. — Joshua Perry

DFS spin: Matt Kuchar and Marc Leishman saw their salaries decrease $600 and $500, respectively, over the past month. Their salaries are in the middle of the pack, and yet Leishman boasts a top-10 LT Adj Rd Score of 68.6; Kuchar is right behind at 68.7. The main concern with Leishman is his ball-striking of late: His Recent GIR (58.3 percent) and Recent DA (49.4 percent) marks are bottom-seven in this loaded field.

Gary Woodland may be a better option than Kuchar and Leishman at the same price point. His LT/Recent Adj Rd Scores and LT/Recent DD marks all rank in the 94th percentile. His ball-striking is excellent as well, as he’s in the top-11 in both LT and Recent GIR this week. — Justin Bailey

On DraftKings, Paul Casey stands out as the most mispriced golfer according to his talent. He has the 15h-highest salary at $8,400, but he trails only DJ and Jordan Spieth with his Long-Term Adj Rd Score of 68.1. For reference, his LT Adj Rd is superior to that of JT and yet he’s $3,100 cheaper. Of course, JT has turned up his play of late and has higher upside, but that $3,000 discount is too much and exploitable in cash games. As I mentioned in this week’s PGA Betting Guide at The Action Network, I want guys who can hit it long but also strike it well. Casey is one of the best ball-strikers in the world, evidenced by his 70.7 percent Long Term Greens in Regulation. — Bryan Mears

Read more DFS analysis in this week’s Vegas Bargain Ratings piece.

Long Shots

Betting angle: Maybe it’s just because Johnson won this event last year, but I feel like the WGC: Mexico is a top-heavy tournament. It’s hard to really back anyone in the long-shot range to win outright. I will, however, be targeting Chris Paisley at +1000 to finish in the top 10. Paisley notched three consecutive top-five finishes on the European Tour, including a win, last month. — Joshua Perry

All odds via Bovada. All odds current as of 4:15 p.m. ET on Feb. 27.

Photo credit Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports