After one week in the golf mecca of Florida, the PGA Tour moves to Mexico City, as Club de Golf Chapultepec hosts the WGC-Mexico Championship for the second consecutive year. As always in WGC events, the field is exclusive, the purse is large, and motivation is sky-high.
Here are the ten players we like best out of an extremely talented group:
10. TONY FINAU
A T2 at the Genesis Open, Finau’s most recent start, was his second runner-up finish of the new season. The 28-year-old bomber leads the PGA Tour in driving distance and is 6th in strokes gained: tee-to-green. He made his WGC debut last October at the HSBC Champions, and did not look out of place, finishing T11.
This will be his first shot at Club de Golf Chapultepec, but if he brings his recent form south of the border, look out.
World Rank: 32nd
Field Rank: 27th
2017 Finish: DNP
Last Seven Starts: 2, MC, 6, 32, 16, 11, 26
9. JORDAN SPIETH
It has not been quite the start of the season that the world No. 4 Spieth was hoping for, but he is trending the right direction after a T20 in his defense at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and a T9 at the Genesis Open, and his putting, which had gone completely in the tank, is slowly improving.
Spieth placed T12 at last year’s WGC-Mexico, which included a third round 63, the low round of the week for the field. He has been tremendous approaching the greens and playing around them, so if he can get the flat stick back to anything resembling the form we have become accustomed to, he is as likely to win as anyone in the field.
World Rank: 4th
Field Rank: 4th
2017 Finish: 12th
Last Seven Starts: 9, 20, MC, 18, 9, 3, 8
8. ALEX NOREN
Noren, a 10-time European Tour winner, has come very close to his first PGA Tour victory twice in the last month, succumbing to Jason Day on a sixth playoff hole at the Farmers Insurance Open in late January, and then finishing third at last week’s Honda Classic, just one stroke out of another playoff.
Outside of a nightmare opening seven-hole stretch in round two, 35-year-old Swede was arguably the best player at PGA National, taking the 18-hole co-lead and then playing the weekend 65-67. He finished second in the field in birdies and 3rd in strokes gained: putting.
World Rank: 14th
Field Rank: 9th
2017 Finish: 55th
Last Seven Starts: 3, 16, 21, 2, 12, 45, 12
7. JUSTIN ROSE
The only man in the field with a chance to take the WGC Grand Slam this year is Rose, who overcame an eight-stroke 54-hole deficit to win the first WGC event of the season, the HSBC Champions.
The 37-year old Englishman has played just one PGA Tour event since, a T8 at the Farmers Insurance Open, where he got into contention, but struggled on Sunday.
However, since that WGC victory, he also has two victories worldwide, one apiece on the European and Asian Tours, in addition to pair of top 10 finishes in Europe. Was not especially impressive in this tournament last year though, finishing T38.
World Rank: 5th
Field Rank: 5th
2017 Finish: 38th
Last Seven Starts: 8, 22, 1, 5, 10, 4, 1
6. PHIL MICKELSON
Phil took a well-deserved break last week after playing in five-consecutive tournaments, with the last three of those resulting in top-six finishes.
With his approach game and putting stroke both on, Phil looks very, very close to getting back in the winner’s circle.
Mickelson contended in Mexico City last year, getting to within three strokes of the lead after six holes on Sunday, but a disastrous two-hole stretch torpedoed his victory chances, although he still finished T7.
World Rank: 34th
Field Rank: 29th
2017 Finish: 7th
Last Seven Starts: 6, 2, 5, 45, MC, 15, 3
5. PATRICK CANTLAY
The WGC-Mexico Championship is a no-cut event, ensuring that Cantlay’s distinction of never missing the weekend of a professional tournament continues for at least another week. Not that staying above the cut-line is his only talent; the 25-year-old won his first PGA Tour event last November, and placed T4 in his last start, the Genesis Open two weeks ago, where he led the field in greens in regulation.
Cantlay’s all-around game makes him a serious threat at an event like this one, and there’s no reason to believe that he does not have the mentality to pull out front if/when he gets into contention.
World Rank: 35th
Field Rank: 30th
2017 Finish: DNP
Last Seven Starts: 4, 35, 51, 15, 1, 15, 20
4. JUSTIN THOMAS
The current FedExCup points leader, and reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, notched his second victory of the season – and 8th of his career, when he outdueled Luke List in a playoff at last week’s Honda Classic.
Thomas has shown the ability to go on runs before, which is good news coming into a tournament where he finished T5 last year after holding the 54-stroke lead. A WGC title is one of the few things missing from the spectacular career of the 24-year-old now world No. 3, so he should be exceptionally motivated to capture his first this week.
Keep in mind, though, that T5 last year is his only top 20 in eight career WGC starts.
World Rank: 3rd
Field Rank: 3rd
2017 Finish: 5th
Last Seven Starts: 1, 9, 17, 14, 22, 11, 1
3. DUSTIN JOHNSON
The World No. 1 and defending WGC-Mexico champion has been largely fantastic since the current season started, but like the man who sits one spot below him in the world rankings (Jon Rahm), DJ is all of a sudden having trouble closing tournaments.
He squandered a six-stroke 54-hole lead at the most recent WGC event – the WGC-HSBC Champions last October. DJ also had late hiccups while in contention at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where he finished T2, and the next week at Riviera, where as the defending champion, he finished T16.
Johnson is the favorite this week, and for good reason, but where is his mental game right now?
His five career WGC victories ranks second all-time, and he is the only player in the field who can say that he has won at Club de Golf Chapultepec.
World Rank: 1st
Field Rank: 1st
2017 Finish: 1st
Last Seven Starts: 16, 2, 9, 1, 14, 2, 17
2. TOMMY FLEETWOOD
Last year’s runner-up, Fleetwood held a late lead at last week’s Honda Classic, before back-to-back bogeys coming into the Bear Trap spoiled his shot for PGA victory No. 1. He finished solo-fourth, the same finish he had at last year’s U.S. Open.
The reigning Race to Dubai champion has been phenomenal in Europe over the past few months, and is inching closer to his breakthrough on the other side of the Atlantic. Do not be shocked if that breakthrough is this week.
World Rank: 11th
Field Rank: 7th
2017 Finish: 2nd
Last Seven Starts: 4, 37, 6, 1, 3, 6, 21
1. JON RAHM
The 23-year-old nearly pulled off career WGC victory No. 1 in Mexico last year, when a scorching Sunday stretch on the back nine had him holding the lead on the 16th tee. He ended up finishing T3, but since then has three victories and three runner-ups among myriad top 10 finishes.
Since reaching World No. 2, though, he has uncharacteristically struggled on Sunday, shooting himself out of contention three-straight weeks with final rounds of 77, 72, and 76, respectively. But after taking the past two weeks off, we see the confident, fearless version of Rahm storming forward this week.
World Rank: 2nd
Field Rank: 2nd
2017 Finish: 3rd
Last Seven Starts: 26, 11, 29, 1, 2, 1, 36
World Rank: 12th
Field Rank: 8th
2017 Finish: 12th
Last Seven Starts: 33, 32, 1, 24, 19, 4, 1
World Rank: 23rd
Field Rank: 18th
2017 Finish: DNP
Last Seven Starts: 9, 17, MC, 32, 22, 2, 46
World Rank: 16th
Field Rank: 11th
2017 Finish: 10th
Last Seven Starts: MC, 3, 15, 8, 19, 16, 11
World Rank: 7th
Field Rank: 6th
2017 Finish: 16th
Last Seven Starts: MC, 11, MC, 4, 1, 2, 26
World Rank: 39th
Field Rank: 34th
2017 Finish: 5th
Last Seven Starts: 13, 68, 32, 5, 58, 11, 71
Credits: OWGR, Getty Images