April 25, 2023, 1:59 pm
The PGA Tour returns this week after last week saw Nick Hardy and Davis Riley earn their first career victories at the Zurich Classic. Beau Hossler and Wyndham Clark were unable to hang on to the lead that they had after each of the first three days of play. Hardy and Riley have already withdrawn from competition this week and as a result of their win, have each earned spots in the rest of the majors this year and a spot in next year’s Sentry Tournament of Champions.
This week the PGA Tour goes international for the Mexico Open played at Vidanta Vallarta, a resort course located in Puerto Vallarta. This is the second edition of this tournament as last year saw Jon Rahm take down the inaugural edition of the tournament.
This week will be interesting to see if the narratives from last year of what player types succeeded will translate to this year’s tournament. The thought going in last year was that bombers off the tee would be the prevalent way to the top of the leaderboard and with names like Jon Rahm, Tony Finau, and Cameron Champ all up there, it seemed to hold true to form. Let’s dive deeper into this week’s event.
Vidanta Vallarta is the host this week designed ironically by the main rival of the PGA Tour at the moment, Greg Norman. This course is not all that dissimilar to other resort courses played on the schedule, being exposed to oceanic winds that are often unpredictable, especially in the afternoons. Another feature that this course has in common with its resort style brethren is the Paspalum grass that covers the course from the fairways to the greens.
The course plays as a par-71 that features five par-3s, nine par-4s, and four par-5s. The course is fairly lengthy as well playing just over 7,400 yards, playing into the bomber narrative. Unlike the past two weeks, where there were lots of doglegs and forced layups off the tee, Vidanta Vallarta features some of the widest fairways on the schedule and rough that should not give the players much trouble at all. The biggest defense of this course (besides the wind) is the natural vegetation where players can find themselves if they get too wild off the tee, as well as the sand waste areas.
Players will need to survive the tough three-hole stretch of 8-10. While this series of holes doesn’t have a clever name like some of the Florida courses, these three holes can cause havoc on the scorecard. 8 and 10 are two of the three hardest holes on the course, with 10 being the most difficult played as a 475-yard par-4 that features a bogey or worse rate of nearly 40%. Hole 8 is a 496-yard par-4 that sports a bogey or worse rate of about 30%. While hole 9 is not as treacherous as the other two, it is still no walk in the park playing as a 174-yard par-3 that yields a birdie only about 13% of the time. Getting out of these three holes in eleven shots is an accomplishment for the players this week.
144 players will tee it up this week with the traditional cutline after 36 holes of the top 65 and ties moving on to play the weekend.
As was the case a year ago, the name recognition is not there this week. The defending champion Jon Rahm and Tony Finau headline the field, and then it takes a precipitous drop. Wyndham Clark, Gary Woodland, and Patrick Rodgers are the next names at the top of most betting boards. The big decision needed to be made in DFS and betting this week is what to do with Rahm. I will definitely be putting him in my DraftKings lineups, but I can’t get there on the betting odds and will be looking elsewhere.
In addition to the key stats listed below, I am going to be considering players that do well in windy conditions. Due to the location of the course near the Pacific coastline, that will certainly be something golfers with contend with this week. At the moment, the forecast isn’t showing much wind, but it is only Tuesday so we will keep an eye on that as the week goes on.
Here are the key stats I am considering when building my lineups this week.
- SG: Approach– Iron play is always on this list and forever will be. It is the most correlated long-term stat with success. I will certainly be drilling down more on long iron play, but approach overall is still a worthy stat to consider this week.
- Driving Distance– With no real penalties off the tee unless things go really bad, bombs away this week. Shorter hitters are at a huge disadvantage this week with the length of the course.
- Proximity 200+ YDS– Over 40% of all approach shots were from this proximity this last year. I tend to look at long term form when it comes to proximity stats because a couple poor shots can really throw short term numbers out of whack, but it doesn’t hurt to see if a golfer comes in with great form with his long irons.
- Bogey Avoidance- With a good number of difficult holes, I am looking to target golfers who can keep it together on these holes and then strike on the easier holes.
- SG: T2G- I will specifically be looking at players who play well tee-to-green on longer courses (over 7,400 yards).
Follow me on Twitter @mlafem10 for additional thoughts as the week goes on and I’d be happy to help out with any lineup questions you have. Let’s make some money!
Round 1 Props
Thrive Contest Plays for Thursday’s Round 1 Action
Jon Rahm 68.5 Stokes: LESS (110 PTS)- Went under this number in three out of four rounds last year (69 in the final round Sunday). Shook off a rough opening round at Heritage and played well the final three days. Now another week removed from the Masters victory, I like Rahm to come out of the gates strong this week.
Francesco Molinari 66.5 Strokes: MORE (70 PTS)- We are getting a layup on this one. Even in the heyday of Molinari I would not understand this line. Molinari does not have the length off the tee to do well around a course like this, but what is more concerning is his form. Other than a top 20 at the Arnold Palmer back in February, there has been a litany of MCs to go with a 60th for ole Francesco.
Chez Reavie 4.5 Birdies: MORE (120 PTS)- Chez doesn’t fit the bomber narrative, but there are aspects of his game working in his favor. He is top 20 in the field in proximity from 200+ and top 10 overall in SG: APP. He was able to translate that into an 11th at this event last year where he went over this number in 3 of his 4 rounds. Reavie is also coming in with some sharp for after a dreadful start to the year with a 6th at Valero and an 11th at Heritage.
Props Record YTD
DFS Top Tier Play
The price is a little jarring at first glance, but when you think about it, it could easily be a lot more given the field strength, so I’m ok with paying up for Rahm. There are not a lot of scenarios I see where Rahm doesn’t play well. This is the type of course that Rahm excels at as he was able to find his lone win of last season here when he was coming in with meh form. This year he already has four wins to his name and I wouldn’t be surprised by a 5th come Sunday. There are enough players in the low-mid $7K range that I can’t see myself messing around and going with a balanced build and surrendering so much win equity.
Others Considered: Gary Woodland ($9,600), Tony Finau ($10,700)
DFS Mid Tier Play
Good iron play and distance off the tee is a great setup for Bramlett. His putting/short game can leave a lot to be desired at times, but I am willing to look the other way when it comes to that and rely on the rest of his game. I would prefer if he was coming in with a little bit of better form, but the course fit is just tough to ignore. He has a history of doing well on longer courses and he has the game to take advantage of the par-5s here as well. Early projections on his ownership are higher than I thought, so if he continues to get steamed as the week goes on, I have no problem pivoting to either Reavie or Wallace in this range.
Others Considered: Chez Reavie ($7,700), Matt Wallace ($8,100)
DFS Value Play
When looking at value plays, no one is ever going to check all the boxes. If they did, they would be more consistent and be higher priced. I look for players that have one elite skill and hope that the rest of their game can fall into place for the week. Núñez fits the bill with his long iron play, especially from 200+ where he ranks top ten in the field in both short- and long-term form. He also has had success in lesser fields played at resort courses (obviously those didn’t have Rahm playing in them) with a 15th in Puerto Rico and a 26th at Corales in the Dominican Republic.
Others Considered: Akshay Batia ($7,400), Michael Kim ($7,300)
Joseph Bramlett +5500
Alex Smalley +6500
Robby Shelton +7500
Vincent Norrman +12000
Chez Reavie (Top 20) +350
Michael Kim (Top 40) +125
Akshay Bhatia (Top 40) +140
Augusto Núñez (Top 40) +175
Position Player Name DK Salary G Jon Rahm $12,000 G Joseph Bramlett $7,800 G Augusto Núñez $7,000 G Chez Reavie $7,700 G G REMAINING BUDGET $15,500 for 2 golfers
View all comments