Sobel’s WGC-Mexico Picks, Betting Odds: How To Bet Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and More at Chapultepec
David Cannon/Getty Images. Pictured: Rory McIlroy
- The 2020 WGC-Mexico Championship begins on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 12:03 p.m. ET at Club de Golf Chapultepec.
- Jason Sobel has previewed the tournament, and included predictions for golfers like Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau.
- Check out his betting picks for outright winners, top-fives, top-10s and more below.
The only guy who had a worse week at Riviera than Tiger Woods is the one who picked him to win.
Look, even baseball players who know the exact pitch being thrown still strike out once in a while.
Hey, at least I didn’t double-down after his first hole of the tournament. Ohh, right…
Unfortunately, I don’t have the option of skipping work this week — unlike Tiger, who will join Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Jason Day on the sidelines for the WGC-Mexico Championship. (That would be the proverbial sidelines, not literal, though I do approve of the idea that skipping a free-money event should come with the just punishment of having to still attend and watch from outside the ropes.)
The days leading into the first of four WGCs this year might be about who isn’t there as much as who is, but make no mistake: This is still a big-time, star-studded field competing in the high altitude of Club de Golf Chapultepec.
What we’ve found in the three years since this tourney moved south of the border is that, yes, big hitters own a big advantage, perhaps even more than during other weeks. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Thomas Pieters, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson were each in the top-10 three years ago; Mickelson, Thomas, Johnson and Bubba Watson two years ago; Johnson, McIlroy, Thomas and Cameron Smith last year.
But that doesn’t mean we should completely neglect the small-ballers, either. Brandt Snedeker was on the board three years ago; Brian Harman and Adam Hadwin two years ago; Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith last year.
If there’s an edge to be found, I’d give it to those who have played this tourney in the past three years. Adjusting for altitude is something every world-class golfer has done before, but knowing those yardages from previous editions of this event should be an advantage.
There’s another related factor, too: As Woods said last year in his first start at this event, the ball tends to curve less in this altitude, which can obviously take some getting used to.
Let’s get to this week’s picks for what should be another big-boy leaderboard this weekend.
One player to win the tournament.
Rory McIlroy (+600)
Wait … the same Rory McIlroy who parlayed a share of the 54-hole lead into a final-round 73 and eventual T-5 last week? Even though Rory undoubtedly wasn’t pleased with the way he closed, I actually like him more in Mexico on the heels of a disappointment rather than a victory. He finished runner-up last year at this event, but more importantly, he’s shown the recent ability to bounce back from disappointments of varying degrees.
Last year’s four global wins were preceded by results of 6th-MC-19th-3rd, but here’s the best part: Each of those wins came when he was playing in back-to-back weeks, just as he’s doing now. In fact, eight of McIlroy’s last 10 titles came on the back end of a two-week stretch, all of which should bode well for his chances this week.
Hideki Matsuyama, whose ball-striking was terrific at Riviera, was a consideration here, but this could turn into a putting contest — and he loses those contests every time.
Potential selections for one-and-done options.
Justin Thomas (+1000)
Wait … the same Justin Thomas who not only MC’d last week, but was nearly DFL through 36 holes? Yup, that guy. In most OAD pools, your fellow competitors are going to be wary of picking JT coming off such a horrid week, but I don’t think we should be scared of a repeat performance.
Throw in the fact that he’s gone 9th-2nd-5th the past three years in Mexico and I think he’s a strong option in this format and DFS, where the public will be inclined to fade him.
Abraham Ancer (+5000)
Wait … the same – OK, I’ll stop this gag now. But it was a down week at Riv for Ancer, too, though he can be excused if he was looking ahead. As the highest-ranked player from Mexico, this is obviously a big week for a guy who’s burgeoning into a very good player before our eyes.
Of course, this can go one of two ways: Either Ancer uses the home country narrative to his favor and plays some inspired golf, or he feels the pressure of performing in front of the home crowd and can’t live up to those expectations.
Two years ago, he was T-52; last year, T-39. That said, he’s a better player now than he was for either of those events. Expect a better result this time around.
One player to finish top-five.
Bryson DeChambeau (+500)
I have a feeling that a really, really strong run of golf is coming for DeChambeau and we obviously want to get ahead of it rather than miss it.
While I’m still not completely sold on it being this week, largely based on his T-56 finish here last year, I’m intrigued by how his revamped muscle tone and swing speed will fare in the high altitude.
Following a nice week at Riv, I think a top-five is definitely possible – and it might lead to bigger and better things during the Florida Swing and beyond.
One player to finish top-10.
Bernd Wiesberger (+800)
One player to finish top-20.
Victor Perez (+200)
I’m bunching these two categories together, because while you’ve been paying close attention to the PGA Tour, these two have been tearing up the European circuit. Wiesberger is the more proven commodity and has shown that his game can travel, so I’m listing him as the top-10, while Perez is newer to the elite-level global golf scene, but did post a T-4 at the WGC-HSBC Champions last year.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
Of his four career PGA Tour wins, three have come at limited-field events, as Schauffele obviously feels a comfort level in these tourneys. He didn’t have his best stuff at Riv, but he did rank ninth in strokes gained tee to green for the week and closed with a 2-under 69, which should provide some momentum.
He’s not my favorite overall play on the board, though it’s tough to believe he won’t make a bunch of birdies and provide a stable point value for his price range.
A lower-priced option for DFS.
All of the things I wrote about Ancer can similarly be written about Ortiz, who might not have as much upside as his countryman, but does own the motivation of playing this event for the first time this week. Quite frankly, Ortiz might be on this list no matter the event’s location. He ended last year T-4 and T-2, and after a few squirrely results to begin this year, he’s gone T-25 and T-26 in his past two starts. During a week when you’ll have to differentiate with the back end of your lineup, he could provide a lot of value.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Byeong-hun An (+6600)
So far this season, An has played 10 events on the PGA Tour. These are his opening-round scores: 67-66-75-68-64-70-69-70-67-65. Add ‘em all up and it’s a 68.10 scoring average in Round 1, good for sixth on the overall list. I’m banking on a complete reversal from his start last year in this event, when he ballooned to a 77 on Thursday.
Shaving about 13-14 strokes off that number should do the trick for FRL this week.
One player who should beat comparable players.
Not many players have played a Challenge Tour event and WGC in back-to-back weeks, but that’s the case for Bezuidenhout, who won the Dimension Data Pro-Am on Sunday (which was co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour).
He should be a popular play for those who have been paying attention lately – and really, I don’t mind him for a top-10 wager or DFS play. The hope here is that he’s still undervalued against similarly priced players and can serve as the smart money in some H2H matchups for the week.
The Big Fade
One top player to avoid at this tournament.
Francesco Molinari (+17500)
Just as those who pay close attention will be on Bezuidenhout this week, those who are only casual observers might believe Molinari is a solid play, but his recent form says otherwise.
He’s now MC’d in three straight starts and hasn’t posted a top-10 since last year’s Masters. It might be pushing it to trace his struggles directly to blowing that back-nine lead at Augusta and watching playing partner Tiger Woods walk away with the title, but the idea certainly isn’t far-fetched.
Whatever the case, Molinari clearly isn’t where he needs to be right now, having finished three spots from the bottom through 36 holes at the Genesis.
My favorite non-PGA Tour play of the week.
Scott Brown to win the Puerto Rico Open (+2500)
OK, so it’s not exactly “Off Tour,” but it’s tough to not like Brown to keep it going at the PGA Tour alternate-site event this week. His lone PGA Tour win came here in 2013 and he’s since finished 64th-10th-5th-17th-10th, showing he truly likes it there.
Fresh off a T-2 at Riviera, he told me after the final round that he’s confident right now and excited about this coming week. That’s enough for me to back him.