The PGA TOUR heads south of the border this week to go mono y mono with Club de Golf Chapultepec.
The course is extremely tight and tree-lined. It's a par 71 that plays 7,345 yards on the scorecard but the adjusted yardage is much closer to 6,700 yards when you factor in the extreme altitude (low point on the course measured at 7,603 feet above sea level and highest point at 7,835 feet).
That makes distance control a premium but that's not really a stat you can quantify. For example, Dustin Johnson spoke on a recent TaylorMade podcast and said that it just took him an hour on the range (with multiple TrackMan readings set up) to dial in his yardages. He said it was basically a clean 15% boost for all his full swings and a 10% boost for 3/4 swings. That number will be slightly different for everyone. Ross Fisher for example is known for his towering ball flight and he claimed it was close to 20% for him.
With such a short course on hand, the driver loses some of it's appeal. We will look at what golfers improve their performance on courses that let them hit less-than-driver frequently. But first, the weather update.
Thursday (R1): Sunny with a high of 71 degrees. Winds at 7 to 10 MPH.
Friday (R2): Mostly cloudy with a high of 73 degrees. Winds at 4-to-7 MPH.
This is a limited field to begin with so there are no tee-time waves to dive into. It's also played on the same course all week, so no course waves to look at, either. Overall, the weather looks great which should lead to plenty of low scores this week.
The best part about season-long leagues is the draft. You don't get that same rush with normal DFS contests but there is hope still. DRAFT has come along to fill that void and I'm having a lot of fun playing in their weekly golf drafts.
The first place to start is to build your pre-draft rankings for the week. I will point out a few golfers I think are overvalued in the raw rankings and a few that are undervalued in the raw rankings.
Brooks Koepka (83.55 Projected Pts): It's the 8th week of 2019 and we still haven't seen Brooks in the Continental US. He disappointed with a 24th at the limited-field Sentry TOC then went overseas to post a T9 and T57 in the desert. Basically he's just been going through the motions and collecting a few paychecks. This week falls under that same category so I don't think I'm ready to draft him as my #1 this week. Of course the upside is there with Brooksy but I think he'll provide better results during the upcoming Florida Swing.
Phil Mickelson (79.81 Projected Pts): I love the course fit and he loves the course fit. He raves about the kikuyu-poa combination of grasses that makes him comfortable. That being said, this 48-year-old just battled through the elements for two straight weeks with one of those even resulting in a Monday finish. I don't think it's a huge concern for most but when you're approaching 50, those grueling weeks can add up. This would be a prime spot for rest. I guess this is more of a gut feeling but I think Mickelson is one to drop down your board a little this week, even though he's the defending champ here.
Rory McIlroy (75.06 Projected Pts): For me there are three clear-cut favorites at the top. Those are JT, DJ, and Rory. The first two are adequately ranked at 1 and 2 but you have to scroll down quite a ways to load up McIlroy. The big hitter has set his full attention on playing Stateside and has opened with three straight top 5s. Adding to his appeal, he was the 36-hole leader here in 2017. He skipped last year but should pick it right back up at Chapultepec.
Sergio Garcia (49.24 Projected Pts): Let's dive into what he said about this course on his 2017 debut, "Well, it’s the kind of golf courses I like. You know, Valderrama is my favorite golf course, small greens. Sawgrass, one of my favorite golf courses, small greens. So I do like these kind of courses better, and when it gets a bit firmer like it’s getting and a bit more challenging, I do feel — even though it’s not easy, I do feel a bit more comfortable."
We talked about the altitude in the intro. Combine that with tree-lined fairways and most golfers will choose to club down frequently this week. That's what we might call a less-than-driver course.
Looking at sample-adjusted performance on less-than-driver courses since the start of 2014, the top 15 performers on a per-round basis looks like this:
Other than raw performance, we can also look at who shows the biggest improvement on LT Driver Courses (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:
Byeong Hun An
Rafa Cabrera Bello
Recommendation: Looking for golfers that crack both lists we find Tommy Fleetwood, Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay, Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, and Emiliano Grillo. Give all these names a close look this week. We've already seen Tommy go close here at Chapultepec.
Cameron Smith: The young Aussie is figuring out the consistency part of his game. He enters with 17 straight cuts made, internationally. That streak is not in danger this week in a no-cut event. Diving deeper, he has finishes of T22 or better in 10 of his last 13 worldwide starts. That includes a win at the Australian PGA Championship and a pair of podiums in the FedExCup Playoffs. His mid-range form is off the charts for a golfer in his price range this week. Then we add in some player quotes and see he said this a few years back when contending at Riviera, “I’ve grown up on kikuyu so love the grass.” It may seem like a small factor but that little bit of added comfort could help him save a shot or two over the course of the week.
Best of luck in all your contests this week!