Golf tips: How to pick a WGC - Mexico Championship winner
Jack Green examines the 20-year trends from the WGC - Mexico Championship, with one player primed to triumph at Chapultepec this week.
You’d think the WGC – Mexico Championship would a tricky event to predict.
After all, the tournament has changed venue seven times in its 20-year history, and used to be played in either September or October before organisers moved it to its current spot in the calendar in 2006.
A look at some key trends over the past two decades, however, provides plenty of insight for backing a winner at Chapultepec this week.
Phil Mickelson triumphed last year, seeing off Justin Thomas in a playoff to become the first player over the age of 40 to ever win this event.
Patrick Reed, meanwhile, is the only winner under the age of 30 since 2005, having lifted the trophy at Doral in 2014.
It’s best, then, to stick with players aged between 30 and 40 when looking for a winner this week, ruling out young guns like Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Jon Rahm.
The more selective fields at WGC events mean it is usually worth backing big names over outsiders, and that’s certainly the case on this occasion.
All but one of the 19 winners in the tournament’s history ranked inside the top 35 in the world at the time of their victory.
It’s no surprise, then, that serial winners have the edge at the WGC - Mexico. Of the tournament’s 19 champions, 13 had at least 10 wins on the PGA Tour or European Tour under their belts.
It’s not all about volume, though. WGC – Mexico champions also tend to be players who triumph at the world’s biggest events.
Of the 19 champions, 14 had already won a major, and 13 of those players had also won a WGC event.
We’re looking, then, for a player inside the world’s top 35, with at least 10 career wins, who has already triumphed at both a major championship and any WGC event.
That this tournament is played so early in the year, when several players are only just starting to play regularly, means form isn’t a huge factor.
It’s beneficial to be coming off a solid performance, though, with 12 of the 19 past winners having placed inside the top 15 in their previous start.
Previous success at this event is much more important than form, despite the ever-changing venues.
Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Ernie Els are all repeat champions, and there’s a long history of players performing well at this tournament on several occasions.
Of the last 18 winners, 13 had all placed inside the top three at the WGC – Mexico in the past, and 13 had finished inside the top-20 the previous year.
These are the criteria, then, for picking a winner this week:
- Aged 30 to 40.
- Inside the top 35 of the world rankings
- At least one major win
- At least one WGC win
- At least 10 career wins (PGA Tour and European Tour)
- A top 15 in the last start
- A top 20 in the WGC – Mexico last year
- A top-three finish in this tournament at some point
Only one player fits the bill: Bubba Watson.
The 40-year-old just about fits the age bracket, and is currently ranked 17th in the world.
He has 12 career wins to date, including the 2012 and 2014 Masters, the 2014 WGC-HSBC Champions and the 2018 WGC Match Play.
Watson already has four top-three finishes at the WGC-Mexico, and finished a respectable T9 last year.
Coming off a decent T15 at last week’s Genesis Open, the American looks a fine bet to win this week at 33/1.
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