WGC-Mexico Championship: How to Bet the Third Round
© Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
After two rounds, we’ve got a pretty interesting leaderboard at the WGC-Mexico Championship.
When players on tours from around the world converge for these WGC events, we get some unfamiliar names at the top.
This week is no exception, as Shubhankar Sharma, a 21-year old from India, carries a two-stroke lead into the weekend. He’s 11-under par after rounds of 65 and 66.
Sharma is down to +700 after opening the week at +15000. He’s a name most golf fans won’t know unless they’ve been watching the European Tour. Sharma has won twice on that tour in his eight starts this season, so he’s shown the ability to close out tournaments.
It's not often you make eagle at the same par 4 in back-to-back days …@ShubhankarGolf has eagled the 316-yard par-4 1st during Rounds 1 AND 2.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 2, 2018
This is Sharma’s first start on the PGA Tour. It will be interesting to see how he handles the weekend pressure in a field this strong, but he’s a name we’ll need to remember in the future. He’s so new to the golf scene that bookmakers don’t even have him available in odds for any of the majors. It may take a year or two before he gets full PGA Tour status, if he ever chooses to play in the U.S. full time, but anyone who can pick up multiple wins on the European Tour at such a young age is worth tracking.
While Sharma has the lead, he’s not the favorite. Two significantly higher-profile players are trying to track him down. Dustin Johnson, who’s four shots back in a tie for fifth place, is the favorite after two rounds at +500. He’s seen a slight drop from his opening number of +600.
Sergio Garcia is the other guy with better odds than Sharma, at +550. Garcia is two shots back in a three-way tie for second place with Xander Schauffele (+800) and Rafa Cabrera-Bello (+1000). He was one of our mid-tier plays at +2800 prior to the tournament and is leading the field in Strokes Gained: Approach this week, so I really like where we are with him heading into Saturday.
Further down the board, Jordan Spieth is at +1800 after a couple of bad putting rounds. Spieth is six shots back in 14th place, but he’s third in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green this week, behind only Sharma and Brendan Steele. I’m not sure if Spieth will turn it around with the putter this week, but when the tour heads back to Florida for the Valspar next week, he’ll be someone I’ll keep a close eye on. Shifting back to bermuda greens from the poa annua may help Spieth find that old putting stroke on a course where he won in 2015.
If you’re looking for a longer shot to play in this event, Steele at +3300 deserves consideration. As we just mentioned, he’s one of two guys beating Spieth from tee to green. He’s actually leading the field in the category. Steele’s putter is slightly below field average, which has him tied for fifth place at 7-under par, but he should have the looks at birdie this weekend necessary to compete.
I’ll be targeting Alex Noren in matchup bets for Saturday. We’ve seen Noren play great golf this last month, and he’s performing pretty well again this week. Unfortunately for him, the putter hasn’t been at the same level as other aspects of his game, but I think he’s good to back in any matchup. Noren is +135 against Matthew Fitzpatrick and Charl Schwartzel in his 3-ball.
Fitzpatrick would have been a fade for me because his approach game is losing him ground this week; only his putting and scrambling have kept him under par. So it’s nice to get those two together. Schwartzel might be a little tougher for Noren to top given that Schwartzel essentially played field average in every category for two rounds. But with Noren striking the ball the best of this threesome, I feel pretty comfortable he’ll get the superior looks at birdie.
Photo: Shubhankar Sharma
Credit: Orlando Ramirez, USA Today Sports
All odds per Bovada on March 2.