This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
Winner's Share: $1.787M
FedEx Cup Points: 550 to the Winner
Location: Mexico City
Course: Club de Golf Chapultepec
2019 champion: Dustin Johnson
The news hit hard and came without warning. When the field for the first World Golf Championship event of the year was announced on Friday evening, there was no Tiger Woods, no Brooks Koepka, no Patrick Cantlay, no Justin Rose. That's almost half the top-10 in the world. The big-name no-shows continued with Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Tony Finau and Henrik Stenson all taking a pass. Perhaps there was a little hint of all this earlier in the week when Phil Mickelson, who won the Mexico title only two years ago, said he'd been skipping the event even if he qualified (he didn't). So, what's up? Why would all these top players bag a big tournament with free world rankings points? Well, the schedule is a big part of it, though Woods admitted he was feeling "stiff" at Riviera last week. There simply are too many big events coming in rapid-fire and something's gotta give. The Honda Classic can't be considered a big event, but it opens the Florida Swing and therefore is a beloved home game for some players, including Koepka. Still, the Honda took a hit last year, too, when the new schedule was introduced.
Okay, enough about who isn't playing. What we do have is a still-very-good 72-man field. Any time you can gather world No. 1 Rory McIlroy in the same place as three other top-5 golfers in Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and defending and two-time champion Dustin Johnson, that's pretty dang loaded. Truth is, the field will be close to what we've seen since the tournament moved to Chapultepec in 2017. It's mostly comprised of top-50 OWGR golfers. But because it's a WGC, the world has to be and should be well represented. That dilutes the strength of the field. Two golfers each from the Asian, Australasian, Japan and Sunshine (South Africa) tours get berths, among them Australia's Zach Murray (No. 430) and Korea's Tae Hee Lee (No. 510). Then there are guys from last season's FedEx Cup standings and European Order of Merit, many of whom aren't normally associated with an elite field. Such as: Corey Conners, Lucas Glover, Benjamin Hebert, Lucas Herbert and Pablo Larrazabal to name a handful. There's also a spot for the top player from Mexico not already qualified. In past years that was Abraham Ancer, but now it's Carlos Ortiz.
What we see often in WGC events is that the 10-15 guys at the bottom of the field who qualify via secondary Tours rarely make a dent. You might need one to fill your lineup, but other than the luxury of being assured four rounds in a no-cut event, don't expect much impact from them.
To refresh: The altitude at Chapultepec is said to be around 7,800 feet above sea level, meaning the 7,300-yard track will play more like 6,700. Further complicating things for the golfers in trying to gauge which club to hit, Chapultepec features numerous uphill and downhill holes. It is also tree-lined with kikuyu fairways and rough, and poa annua/bentgrass greens that have proved difficult to read. Sound familiar? Right, it is similar in that regard to Riviera.
Playing the equivalent of 6,700 yards, the shorter hitters come into the conversation this week. Yes, Johnson has won two of the three years, but get this: Last year, he led the field in putting and was second in scrambling (and first in greens in regulation). He was only 12th in driving distance.
What we saw last year was many of the better putters and scramblers on the first page of the leaderboard. We'll delve deeper into that in the key stats and Champion's Profile below. Chapultepec played pretty hard last year; only two golfers bettered 11-under (Johnson at 21-under and McIlroy at 16-under). The hardest hole has been the par-4, 525-yard eighth. The par-3s are also hard, and none of them is especially short, with two at least 225 yards.
Weather-wise, it should be a perfect week for the golfers. Temperatures will be in the 70s and 80s, with little chance of rain and light winds.
Fun Chapultepec factoids: It was built in the early 1900s during the Mexican Revolution, and it hosted the PGA Tour's Mexican Open on occasion. It was not a regular Tour event, but Ben Crenshaw won it there in 1981, and 10 years later, so did Jay Haas.
Key Stats to Winning at Chapultepec
The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in order of importance.
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: approach
• Putting average/strokes gained: putting (especially from 10 feet and in)
• Scrambling/strokes gained: around the green
• Par-3 scoring
2019 - Dustin Johnson (Chapultepec)
2018 - Phil Mickelson (Chapultepec)
2017 - Dustin Johnson (Chapultepec)
2016 - Adam Scott (Doral)
2015 - Dustin Johnson (Doral)
2014 - Patrick Reed (Doral)
2013 - Tiger Woods (Doral)
2012 - Justin Rose (Doral)
2011 - Nick Watney (Doral)
2010 - Ernie Els (Doral)
Look at the pedigree of the golfers who have won this event, both at Doral and Chapultepec. In the past decade, all but one is considered elite, and back in 2011 Watney finished the year at No. 12 in the world. The best golfers are the best golfers for a reason – they play the best in the most places. So while a high ranking and good form over the past few months don't guarantee success, it's a prudent way to formulate your lineup this week. Johnson won at 14-under-par in 2017 and Mickelson at 16-under, so it's not a full-on birdie-fest. Yes, Johnson won again last year at 21-under, but he was five clear of second place and no one else better 11-under. The last two years, the first page of the leaderboard has been dominated by the week's top iron players, scramblers and putters. Neither driving distance nor driving accuracy mattered much.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Rory McIlroy - $11,500 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 6-1)
McIlroy had a bad week at Riviera – he tied for fifth. Yes, tying for fifth constitutes a bad week these days for McIlroy, who has finished in the top-5 in his past five starts. He's played Mexico twice, finishing runner-up to Dustin Johnson last year and seventh in 2017.
Dustin Johnson - $11,000 (8-1)
Johnson has won this event two of the three years it's been played at Chapultepec, and last year it had nothing to do with his length. Johnson ranked second in scrambling and first in putting in blowing away the field. Only McIlroy was within 10 strokes of him. Even when Johnson tied for seventh in 2018, he was fifth in the field in putting.
Justin Thomas - $10,800 (10-1)
Thomas has played this tournament all three years and finished top-10 all three years, including runner-up to Phil Mickelson in 2018. The first two years he putted really well. Last year, he putted awful and still tied for ninth.
Tier 2 Values
Tommy Fleetwood - $9,200 (20-1)
Fleetwood has finished top-20 all three years in Mexico, including a runner-up to Johnson at the inaugural event. He has said Chapultepec reminds him of courses back in Europe. The Englishman opened the season strong with a runner-up at Abu Dhabi followed by a tie for 11th in Dubai.
Sergio Garcia - $8,600 (40-1)
Garcia has been busy so far in 2020, already having teed it up four times. Two of them were top-10s with a third being a top-25. Like a number of Europeans, Garcia has expressed a liking to this course, and it shows. The Spaniard has finished no worse than 12th in three visits, with top-10s the past two years.
Patrick Reed - $8,400 (40-1)
Reed appears to be figuring things out at Chapultepec, improving from 61st to 37th to 14th in the three years. The weakest part of Reed's game is off the tee, which should not be a concern this week. He already has a pair of top-10s in 2020.
Tier 3 Values
Matthew Fitzpatrick - $8,000 (60-1)
Fitzpatrick has played in Mexico all three years and finished in the top 30 three times. With his short game, he really could be doing even better. Last year on the European Tour, Fitzpatrick ranked first in strokes gained: putting and seventh in scrambling.
Rafa Cabrera Bello - $7,600 (100-1)
The Spaniard had three bad tournaments to start the year, but he tied for 17th at Riviera, offering hope of a good week ahead on a course he has played well. He ranked 12th in scrambling and 17th in strokes gained: putting at the Genesis. Cabrera Bello has shot seven rounds in the 60s the past two years at Chapultepec, tying for third in 2018 and 19th a year ago.
Kurt Kitayama - $7,200 (125-1)
The Californian who plays mostly in Europe followed up a tie for sixth in Dubai with a top-20 at Pebble Beach. Kitayama played in his first WGC in China in the fall and tied for 28th. He's been making his way up the world rankings and currently stands 68th.
Matthias Schwab - $6,900 (150-1)
The young Austrian made his WGC debut a memorable one, tying for fourth in China late last year. Schwab followed that up with a runner-up at the Turkish Airlines Open. He has one of the better short games on the European Tour, having ranked second in scrambling and eighth in strokes gained: around the green last season.
Lucas Herbert - $6,700 (200-1)
The Australian who just turned 24 broke through with his first pro win a few weeks back in Dubai. That vaulted Herbert from the 200s inside the top-100 in the world rankings. He followed that up with another decent showing in Saudi Arabia. This will be Herbert's first WGC, but getting that recent win should allow him to relax a lot more now.
Mike Lorenzo-Vera - $6,400 (150-1)
The Frenchman just turned 35, and he's playing his best golf ever. Lorenzo-Vera finished third at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, then returned to Dubai in January and recorded another top-10. He's now ranked in the 60s and has a shot to qualify for his first Masters. Lorenzo-Vera has played in only four career majors, but one of them was a tie for 16th last year at the PGA. He followed that up with a T38 at his first WGC in China in the fall. Lorenzo-Vera ranked 14th on the European Tour in strokes gained: around the green last season.