Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele gave new meaning to the Big Easy in New Orleans last weekend. The pair dominated the Zurich Classic, finishing two strokes ahead of runners up Sam Burns and Billy Horschel. An incredible first-round 59 led the way for the duo’s wire-to-wire and record-setting (-27) finish.
This week, we are headed south of the border to Vallarta, Mexico for the Mexico Open at Vidanta. This will be the debut for the Mexico Open on the PGA tour.
2022 Mexico Open
Dates: April 28-May 1, 2022
Course: Vidanta Vallarta in Vallarta, Mexico
Purse: $7.3 million
Defending Champ: First year on the PGA Tour
The Mexico Open at Vidanta is the second and final stop in Mexico for the PGA Tour this season. While it is the first time it has been featured on the PGA Tour schedule, it has been played since 1944 and is considered Mexico’s national tournament. As such, the event has attracted a record number of Mexican players in the field vying for their country’s glory.
What Course Is The Mexico Open Held At?
The Norman Signature Course at Vidanta is located on the western coast of Mexico with Sierra Madre mountains looming large in the distance. Opened in 2016 and designed by the Shark himself, Greg Norman; the course features 55 bunkers and plenty of water hazards with the Ameca River winding through it.
With larger landing areas off the tee the rolling greens will provide little room for error and are often surrounded by deep bunkers on approach shots. Distance will also be a factor with the course topping off at 7,456, including two par 5s measuring 600+.
How To Watch The Mexico Open
Thursday: 3:30-6:30 p.m. ET Golf Channel, 8:45-6:30 p.m. ET ESPN+
Friday: 3:30-6:30 p.m. ET Golf Channel, 8:45-6:30 p.m. ET ESPN+
Saturday: 1-3 p.m. ET Golf Channel, 8:30-6:00 p.m. ET ESPN+, 3-6 p.m. ET CBS
Sunday: 1-3 p.m. ET Golf Channel, 8:30-6:00 PM ESPN+, 3-6 p.m. ET CBS
How To Listen To The Mexico Open
Thursday-Friday, 1–6:30 p.m. ET Sirius XM
Saturday-Sunday, 1–6 p.m. ET Sirius XM
Mexico Open Field & Betting Odds
Compared to what we have become accustomed to in recent weeks, the field is lacking in world golf players ranking in the top 10 with only one: Jon Rahm.
Rahm is a massive favorite heading into Thursday’s play. While there may not be many in the top 10, the field is hardly lacking in talent and storylines. Rahm, Abraham Ancer and Tony Finau round out three players in the top 25 that also includes past major winners Partick Reed, Gary Woodland and Graeme McDowell.
A record 10 Mexican players will be in the field playing in front of a home crowd, including brothers Carlos and Alvaro Ortiz. Ancer is the favorite among the group, though all will be playing with a little extra heart, knowing it is for their homeland’s adoration.
Vidanta Vallarta is a Greg Norman design that is very long and wide, just shy of 7,500 yards. The long bombers will be at a big advantage this week, especially those who can carry the ball 300+ yards in the air because there won’t be much roll on these fairways.
It will also be important to be accurate on the approach because the majority of the greens are guarded by tough bunkers. Hitting into the sand could result in a tough up-and-downs so it will be essential to be able to save par out of the bunkers.
This week the key metrics that our model is using to compile our portfolio are driving distance, strokes gained on the approach and sand save percentage.
We typically incorporate course history, but this is the first event at Vidanta. Without past performances to use in our handicaps, we will be focusing on the core metrics that we have identified as most important this week for this course.
Gary Woodland is our model’s top choice to win this week and his game fits all of the key metrics we are looking for out of an outright winner her. We feel this a very fair number at 22-1 odds. Woodland is No. 1 in this field in Strokes Gained: Approach over his last 25 rounds and averages 311.8 yards off the tee. Woodland actually rates out as the top player in the field when you combine driving distance and approach play. His sand save percentage leaves a little to be desired at a middling No. 85, but his iron game is good enough that he should be able to avoid the treacherous bunkers on the majority of his approaches.
Woodland also comes in great form. Outside of missing the cut at the Masters in his last start — a course that does not suit his game at all — he finished with three straight top-10 finishes in his last five starts, including two appearances in the top 5. As long as he is even average with the flat stick, we expect Woodland to be right in contention on Sunday in one of the final pairings.
Kevin Na’s stats don’t necessarily reflect it, but he has been playing incredibly consistent golf this season. In his six stroke play tournaments this year, he has only missed two cuts and has three top 20 finishes, including a T-14 at the Masters. There are questions around why a player of his caliber is playing in this tournament with a weak field, especially since he has been known to come up small in tournaments with weak fields (where both of his cuts came this year). But as long as he comes in focused, the model loves his chances to contend.
Abraham Ancer is getting a ton of market love with this tournament played in his native country, but we prefer another South American this week in Sebastian Munoz. Munoz is an extremely streaky player but when he is on, he can play as well as anyone on Tour. In fact, at the RSM Classic back in November, he shot an opening round of 60 — the lowest posted score by any golfer this season. He has only missed one cut since the RSM, while posting two top-10 finishes during that span. Munoz has hit 67% of greens in regulation this season, which is going to be vital this week in avoiding the many greenside bunkers. Munoz has lost strokes putting in 13 of his last 15 events, which is concerning, but our model likes him here.
We touched on driving distance being key this week and no one on Tour hits it longer than Cameron Champ, who averages a whopping 321.1 yards off the tee. Champ has been a favorite of ours since his huge 100-1 outright win at the 3M Open last year. This season hasn’t been nearly as kind to him, missing two of his last three cuts, but he did finally have a breakthrough with a very impressive top-10 finish at the Masters in his last start.
Like Munoz, Champ is a streaky player and he had a very similar trajectory last year before getting his first win of the season. He missed four straight cuts then followed that up with a top 10 at the John Deere and two weeks later got the outright win at the aforementioned 3M. He’s in a very similar position this year, having missed two cuts then placing top 10 at the Masters. His driving distance alone should set him up for a top-20 finish and if he can get hot with his putter — which he has shown the ability to in the past — then there’s a good chance history may repeat itself.