Out of the Rough: The Mexico Open at Vidanta
I prefaced last week by stating that the unique setup of the Zurich Classic would be hard for us to predict and that is exactly what happened. If you’ve tuned into any of these articles before, you may know that I take a very large statistic based approach each week and have a tournament specific formula that I follow. Again, last week was a tough one to predict in the duo format. Our best overall finish was a T13th by Shane Lowry and Ian Poulter. Chase Seiffert and Hank Lebioda finished T18th in the under $6,900 price range which is always something to hang your hat on. We turn our attention to the Mexico Championship at Vidanta Vallarta, a course and event that is making its PGA Tour debut.
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Results
Marc Lesihman & Cameron Smith (-17) - T21st
Talor Gooch & Max Homa (-17) - T21st
Adam Hadwin and Adam Svensson (-7) - MC
Doug Ghim & Matthias Schwab (-15) - T32nd
Joshua Creel & Chad Ramey (-6) - MC
Viktor Hovland & Collin Morkiawa (-16) - T29th
Shane Lowry & Ian Poulter (-21) - 13th
Chris Kirk & Brendon Todd (-17) - T21st
Troy Merritt & Robert Streb (-9) - MC
Chase Seiffert & Hank Lebioda (-18) - T18th
As previously mentioned, this is the first time the PGA Tour will take on Vidanta Vallarta and the Mexico Championship.
Vidanta Vallarta is a Greg Norman designed course that plays at 7,456 yards and par 71. It features Paspalum greens.
In anticipation of its debut on the PGA Tour schedule, 51 new bunkers were added to the course and 250 yards were added overall to the course.
This course seems to be a straight forward, standard type course. Not offering much defense to cause problems to golfers outside of the bunkers around the greens.
Getting off the tee will be key this week, seeing those who are elite in driving distance getting a significant boost this week.
I’m not paying much attention to around-the-green work this week due to this, outside of sand saves being a statistic I will keep an eye on.
The best in terms of ball strikers will get a leg up, just getting the ball up and down and flying straight, as easy as that sounds, will prove an advantage.
Overall, it’s a relatively flat course and we could see some very low scores this week.
In terms of the weather, winds will typically pick up in the afternoon so those with early tee-times could see an advantage there.
The field will feature just one world top 15 golfer in Jon Rahm. Other notable names are Tony Finau, Kevin Na, Patrick Reed and Mexico national Abe Ancer who will absolutely be a fan favorite this week and should see a good following throughout the week,
Important statistics to pay attention to include Average Driving Distance, Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP,) Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG: TTG) and Sand Saves Percentage.
This price range is extremely limited this week with just five options. I hate to do it, but I have to go with Jon Rahm ($11,300) as my top choice here. He’s $900 more expensive than Tony Finau ($10,400) but that’s for good reason. As previously mentioned, he’s the only World top 15 golfer in the field and is currently World #3. He’s currently second on tour in SG: TTG, 11th in average driving distance and 12th in SG: APP. Rahm has three top 10’s this year and six top 20’s. He’s in great form and is the easy favorite for this week. Again, this is all for good reason. Also consider Abraham Ancer ($10,300.) This selection is less to do with his statistical relevance to the course but his proximity. Ancer is the top Mexican born golfer on tour and should see a big following around the course this week. His last outing was a missed cut at The Masters but did have a strong T5th at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play at his event prior. Let’s hope that the hometown support helps lift him.
This price range gets a bit more interesting than the previous. We’ll lead off here with Gary Woodland ($9,900) who’s getting a lot of praise heading into this event, all for good reasons. Woodland is currently 14th on tour in average driving distance, 27th in SG: APP, 38th in SG: OTT and top 100 in sand save percentage. Woodland did miss the cut at The Masters, but prior to that made four-of-five cuts with three top eight finishes, including two top fives at The Honda Classic and Arnold Palmer Invitational. The only problem here is trying to squeeze both Rahm and Woodland into the same lineup. It can be done but will be tough. Also consider Chris Kirk ($9,600.) He’s one of the best on tour when it comes to SG: OTT as he currently sits ninth. He’s also 36th in SG: APP, 44th in sand save percentage as well as top 100 in average driving distance. Kirk has made five of his last seven cuts, headlined by a T5th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and T7th at the Honda Classic back in late February and early March.
This is a price range I do like a lot of options in. Starting off we will go with Charles Howell III ($8,400.) Howell is very good when hitting out of the sand which may play beneficial this week as he’s 16th on tour right now. He’s 45th in SG: TTG and 59th in average driving distance. He recently had a T4th at the Valero Texas Open in early April and made back-to-back cuts. Also consider C.T. Pan ($8,100.) Like Howell, Pan is very good out of the sand where he currently ranks 13th on tour. He’s 49th in SG: OTT and 60th in SG: APP. Pan has made five of his last six cuts, highlighted by a ninth place finish at The Genesis Invitational back in late February. I think there’s a lot of value in not only in these two golfers but this price range as a whole this week.
Let’s begin the search for some deep value. Leading off in this penultimate price range is Joseph Bramlett ($7,100.) Bramlett is one of the best on the tour when it comes to average driving distance. He currently averages 316 yards off the tee. On top of that, he’s 62nd on tour in SG: APP and 69th in SG: OTT. Dating back to The Players in early March, Bramlett has made the cut every other week. If that trend is to remain, he will make the cut this week. Also consider Austin Smotherman ($7,800.) Smotherman is great when it comes to ball striking. He’s 18th on tour in SG: APP. Additionally he’s 47th in SG: OTT and 58th in average driving distance. Like Bramlett, dating back to March and The Players, Smotherman has made the cuts every-other-week. Again, if he follows the trend he will make the cut this week.
Time to find those gems to win us some money this week. Leading off this hunt is Scott Gutschewski ($6,500.) Gutschewski is good out of the sand where he currently ranks 37th on tour. Additionally he’s 56th in SG: APP and 74th in SG: OTT. He is average in average driving distance but makes up for that with his approach game, cutting his SG: OTT down. Prior to the Zurich Classic where he missed the cut he made three straight cuts, including a T18th at the Valero Texas Open. Also consider Trey Mullinax ($6,800.) Mullinax is one of the longest drivers on tour, currently ranking sixth in average driving distance. He’s also 41st in sand saves percentage and top 100 in SG: OTT. He’s had a rough go of things as of late but I think with his game, this could be a successful tournament for him.
Strokes Gained: Proximity to Course
Strokes gained: Proximity to Course (SG: PTC) is the patented statistic developed by Lenny of the Out of the Rough Podcast. Each week, we will pick a golfer local to the course to be his SG: PTC choice. Last week it was father and son due Jay and Billy Haas who finished T59th at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
This week Lenny is going with Carlos Ortiz.
SG: PTC Past Results
The Honda Classic - Chase Seiffert (+1) - T25th
The Arnold Palmer Invitational - John Pak (+8) - T52nd
The Players - Billy Horschel (WD)
The Valspar Championship - Sam Ryder (-1) - MC
WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play - MC
The Valero Texas Open - Adam Long (-5) - T35th
The Masters - Patrick Reed (+6) - T35th
The RBC Heritage - Brian Harman (-6) - T35th
The Zurich Classic - Jay and Billy Haas (E) - T59th
One and Done
*Rules: A golfer can only be played once all season unless the chosen golfer wins the respective tournament. If the chosen golfer wins, he can be used again. We will keep track of success via monetary earnings to add value to bigger tournaments. We will track my choices for the rest of the season below.
I’m going to roll out Gary Woodland this week. I think his game suits this course well and he’s been playing some good golf as of late.
The Masters - Shane Lowry ($870,000)
The RBC Heritage - Adam Hadwin ($54,844)
The Zurich Classic - Marc Lesihman ($24,111.50)