The PGA Tour returns to its regular playing schedule as players head south from New Orleans, Louisiana to Vallarta, Mexico. A resort city, this will mark not only the first event in Mexico of 2022, but the first Mexico Open at Vidanta on the PGA Tour calendar.
A brand-new event for competitors to indulge in, this week takes the place of a World Golf Championship as the lone remaining elevated event, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, has already taken place.
The shift from the United States to Mexico is a welcomed sight for our friends to the south as they annually host the World Wide Technologies Championship as well.
In the midst of the fall swing on the PGA Tour, more eyes should be drawn to Vidanta Vallarta for the inaugural Mexico Open. As such, there will be a heavy Mexican contingency not only in attendance, but in the playing field.
Led by world No. 20 Abraham Ancer, 10 players from Mexico in total will tee it up. Ancer is interesting to note as the 31-year-old was last seen withdrawing from the RBC Heritage on the heels of a surprising missed cut at the Masters Tournament.
It is clear Ancer is dealing with some sort of injury as this incident followed up a last-minute withdrawal from the Valero Texas Open in the beginning of April. Despite this, it is now world No. 2 Jon Rahm who is the heavy favorite to win the Mexico Open at Sportsbook.
Rahm has been held winless since his 2021 U.S. Open victory last summer and is clearly the best player in the field. Listed at +500, our odds calculator gives the Spaniard a 16.67% chance to reenter the Sportsbook’s circle. Striking the ball well in 2022, Rahm will need to find his touch on and around-the-green in order to raise the Mexico Open trophy.
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Mexico Open Odds: Who Is Favored?
|Charles Howell III||+5000|
Odds as of April 26 at Sportsbook
Course and Tournament Information
Vidanta Vallarta will be seen by the television audience for the first time this week for the Mexico Open. As with new tournaments and new venues, there is a bit of speculation leading into the first tee shot. Completed in 2015, this Greg Norman design features generous landing areas off-the-tee and paspalum grass throughout the property.
Situated along the Ameca River, from my estimation, water seriously comes into play on half of the holes. A par-73 for the playing public, the PGA Tour has turned two of the par-5s into par-4s in order to transform it into a par-71. This should add some teeth to Vidanta as it measures nearly 7,500 yards and plays at sea level.
This should be noted as the WGC-Mexico was played in Mexico City at elevation and there may be some confusion. Rest assured, all 7,500 yards will be played and potentially even longer as the tournament committee added numerous tee boxes ahead of the Mexico Open.
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Taking all the previous information into account, those players who are known for their jaw-dropping length should hold an advantage. The rough is not penal and the flat layout is conducive to windy conditions, perhaps aiding bombers even more.
What Happened in Last Year’s Mexico Open?
Considering there was no Mexico Open last year, it is hard to say what exactly happened. This section of the article is typically reserved for looking back and projecting any past statistics into the future. While Vidanta Vallarta is a new tournament venue, we can consider other locations to make their PGA Tour debut in recent memory.
The Concession Club immediately comes to mind as it was a one-off for the PGA Tour. Collin Morikawa reigned supreme in Florida as the Californian captured his first World Golf Championship title. A bit farther north, Congaree Golf Club hosted the Palmetto Championship in the middle of the summer.
This time it was Garrick Higgo who was victorious as the then-rookie secured his playing privileges on the PGA Tour after a hot summer on the DP World Tour. These two Sportsbooks make for obvious selections when looking back, so we will try not to get too fancy in statistical analysis as a new golf course brings plenty of unknowns.
2022 Mexico Open at Vidanta Picks
Gary Woodland +2200
No one in this field may be playing better golf than Gary Woodland at the moment. The former Kansas Jayhawk has been terrific ever since the PGA Tour began its Florida Swing. Kicking off his east coast efforts with back-to-back T-5 finishes at the Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woodland has continued to flash some form.
He was on the unfortunate side of the draw at TPC Sawgrass before two more strong starts at the Valspar Championship and the Valero Texas Open. Some may be concerned about his missed cut at the Masters Tournament, but Woodland lost more than six strokes with the putter in only two rounds of play.
An outlier performance for Woodland, he not only leads the field in SG: Approach, but also SG: Par-5s over the last three months. He ranks inside the top-10 of SG: Putting, Par-4 scoring, and Proximity from 200+ meaning the entirety of his game is in sync.
He has yet to reenter the Sportsbook’s circle, but the weak field of the Mexico Open should be conducive to a wily veteran like Woodland finding success.
Sebastian Munoz +3300
Munoz was a scratch from the RBC Heritage just before tee-off as he cited a back injury as the reason for his withdrawal. This selection hence comes with some added risk, but it is sure to be worth it considering the Colombian’s form over the last three months. Fifth in SG: Off-the-Tee, 22nd in SG: Approach and 13th in SG: Around-the-Green, Munoz has been wildly impressive.
These statistics have led to strong showings as he was featured in the final grouping of The PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP before a poor final round. He has also consistently found his way into the weekend as Munoz has now made five consecutive cuts in stroke-play events.
He is the best par-4 player from 450 to 500 yards in this field primarily due to his ability to consistently split fairways and find greens in regulation. The ball-striking has been so good and his birdie conversion rate continues to perk up, meaning he could be in store for four low rounds down in Mexico.
Cameron Champ +5000
There is some potential that the Norman Signature Course caters strictly to bombers. This should effectively cut the field in half which is typically not the case on resort-style courses where the entire tournament can contend. If this theory proves to be correct, Champ immediately comes to mind as he leads the PGA Tour in Driving Distance.
The 26-year-old has always been known for his length and he finally found a semblance of his approach play at the Masters Tournament where he finished in a tie for 10th-place. The reason for his success at Augusta National is the distance from which he is striking his irons. Top-15 in this field in proximity from both 175 to 200 yards and 200+ yards, he should continue this small trend at Vidanta.
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Champ should play himself into contention and he gives ticket holders a realistic opportunity to cash. A three-time Sportsbook on the PGA Tour, he very much presents to be a boom-or-bust option as he rarely gives himself a chance to win without coming through. This should be a spot for Champ to do just that as his length, iron play, and par-5 scoring will give him a considerable edge over his counterparts.
Aaron Rai +5000
The multiple-time DP World Tour Sportsbook turned PGA Tour rookie has impressed early in the United States in 2022. Finishing in a tie for sixth place at the Farmers Insurance Open, the Englishman has more recently finished in a tie for 29th-place at the Valero Texas Open and a tie for fourth place at the Zurich Classic.
Rai is a fantastic iron player despite his SG: Approach figures lagging behind his competitors. He ranks outside the top-60 in this field over the last three months, but given where this week’s approach shots will come from, Rai should see some improvement. The 27-year-old sits third in proximity from 200+ yards and routinely gives himself scoring opportunities.
He converts them at an efficient clip as well as he ranks top-10 in SG: Par-5 and Opportunities Gained. He is a proven champion on the DP World Tour and given the weak nature of this field, Rai’s experience should be able to translate to success on this side of the Atlantic.
Nate Lashley +10000
Lashley missed the cut at the RBC Heritage, but Harbour Town Golf Links has a way of playing tricks on players who are not completely in sync. The Norman Signature Course may very well be the polar opposite with its generous landing areas off-the-tee and heavy bunkering around-the-green. This should better suit a player such as Lashley as he has been fantastic the past few months.
He comes off four consecutive top-30 finishes before his short trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. T-7 at the Puerto Rico Open and T-15 at the Corales Punta Cana Championship, the tropical locations present some similarities to this week’s venue in Mexico. Winds often wreak havoc on competitors and paspalum grass is wall to wall at each of the three properties.
Lashley falls short to the field in par-5 scoring which is somewhat concerning, but he is capable of converting birdies opportunities when presented. Top-10 in Opportunities Gained and top-20 in Good Drives, Lashley will need to see an improvement in his iron play to capture his second PGA Tour title at the Mexico Open.