2020 WGC-Mexico Championship picks: Our experts are feeling bold and fading this recent winner
This week's WGC-Mexico Championship won't have the feel or look of Riviera Country Club, which had the entire golf world standing and applauding last week. But if Club de Golf Chapultepec has proven anything in its three years as a host, it's that it can be just as if not more entertaining than the event that preceded it.
The tight, tree-lined fairways, plus the fact the course sits nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, make the WGC-Mexico a fascinating watch each year. It also helps that it's a WGC, giving the event a world-class field, though it won't be as strong in 2020. Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay and Justin Rose are among the marquee names skipping the event.
But two-time WGC-Mexico champion Dustin Johnson (three if you count his victory at Doral) will be in the field, as will Rory McIlroy, whom he dueled with on Sunday last year before pulling away to win by five strokes. Oddsmakers are high on Dustin continuing to dominate south of the border, as he's 7-1 to win, second only to McIlroy at 6-1. Others to watch include Genesis Invitational winner Adam Scott, who may be the hottest player in the field, having won in his last two worldwide starts at the Australian PGA in December and Riviera last week. The 39-year-old Aussie is 20/1 to make it three in a row.
Our expert picks this week, just like every week, include a caddie offering insight from the range and putting green at the 2020 WGC-Mexico Championship; picks from Jason Sobel, a senior writer at The Action Network, which is becoming the leader in sports betting and handicapping analysis, and it's growing its presence in golf; two of the most respected experts in the daily-fantasy community, Pat Mayo of DraftKings and Brandon Gdula of FanDuel; Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports, which tracks DFS ownership and sentiment; and Columbia University senior lecturer and Ph.D. Lou Riccio, who uses predictive analysis and modeling to forecast winners in golf.
2020 WGC-Mexico Championship Picks To Win (odds via BetMGM)
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the Week: Jon Rahm (9-1) — Rahm is due for a U.S. win. You're getting a discount relative to Rory or DJ because Rahm doesn't have the course history here. But Rahm is bound to win one of these weeks, and you're not really paying up at these odds.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National analyst: Xander Schauffele (20-1) — Plagued by a poor putter at Genesis, Xander was still top 10 in ball-striking for the week and improved every facet in his game each round. Plus, three of his four career wins have come in no cut events, like this. and you’re catching him at a great price in Mexico.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire editor: Jon Rahm (9-1) — Rahm is nearly every bit as good as anyone else in the world right now and owns the second-best win odds when I simulate out this tournament thousands of times. He has had mixed form at Chapultepec (3rd, 20th, 45th), but he’s golfing better than ever. We typically see studs line the top of the field, and I want access to one of them on my betting card.
Dr. Lou Riccio, Columbia University: Justin Thomas (10-1) — My model is just higher on Justin Thomas than Dustin Johnson this week.
Jason Sobel, Action Network senior golf writer: Rory McIlroy (6-1) — Wait … the same Rory McIlroy who parlayed a share of the 54-hole lead into a final-round 73 and eventual T-5 last week? Even though Rory undoubtedly wasn’t pleased with the way he closed, I actually like him more in Mexico on the heels of a disappointment rather than a victory. He finished runner-up last year at this event, but more importantly, he’s shown the recent ability to bounce back from disappointments of varying degrees. Last year’s four global wins were preceded by results of 6th-MC-19th-3rd, but here’s the best part: Each of those wins came when he was playing in back-to-back weeks, just as he’s doing now. In fact, eight of McIlroy’s last 10 titles came on the back end of a two-week stretch, all of which should bode well for his chances this week. Hideki Matsuyama, whose ball-striking was terrific at Riviera, was a consideration here, but this could turn into a putting contest—and he loses those contests every time.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest associate editor: Tommy Fleetwood (20-1) — Somehow, Fleetwood is still looking for his first PGA Tour win. I think that changes this week. The Englishman comes in with great form (T-11, T-2, T-2 and a win) in his past four starts. And Fleetwood finished runner-up at Chapultepec here in 2017. The Englishman is fourth in greens in regulation so far this season on the PGA Tour (granted, in just three starts), but that's a key metric for success here. And I'm willing to bank on another strong start from Fleetwood.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Dustin Johnson (7-1) — I’m not going to outsmart myself this week. Give me the two-time champ here who, for just the second time in his last 10 starts, gained strokes on the greens last week. This course clearly fits his eye off the tee, so I think he’ll be much more comfortable in that area (66th in SG: off-the-tee on tour this year). He was also much improved around the greens at Riviera, another area he’s struggled in so far this year (187th on tour). Clean those areas up and we could be looking at another DJ runaway in Mexico.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports golf expert: Dustin Johnson (7-1) — I’ve tried so hard this week not to pick DJ again but I can’t see any way around it this week. As per fantasynational.com he ranks 1st for strokes-gained: tee to green over the last two months, and ranks third for strokes-gained: putting on poa greens. He also ranks eighth in our FanShareSports Course Suitability Ranking. It’s no surprise then that he has won twice here in the last 3 years.
Results from this season: We correctly predicted seven of the first 17 winners to start the season. FanDuel's Brandon Gdula has predicted four outright victories on his own, netting +124 units this season alone (the equivalent of being up $1,240 on $10 bets), after predicting Justin Thomas' win at Kapalua. Our tour caddie, and DraftKings' Pat Mayo, also had JT as their pick to win. FanShare Sports' Lee Alldrick picked Rory McIlroy at the WGC-HSBC Champions, giving him three winning predictions early in the season. Three members of our expert panel correctly picked the favorite in the fall at the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas (8-1), so we have a lot of positive momentum. Check out everyone's records in the betting card above.
Sleepers/Dark Horses That Could Win at the 2020 WGC-Mexico Championship (odds via BetMGM)
Caddie: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (100-1) — Coming off a win last week in South Africa and a runner-up a few weeks ago at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Bezuidenhout is one of the best players you haven't heard of. He's now in the top 50 in the world and really boasts a great overall game. He has a precise off-the-tee and around-the-green game, both of which will be important here in Mexico City.
Mayo: Paul Casey (40-1) — The Brit has never finished outside the top 20 of this event, and the strangest part, he’s never lost strokes on the green at Club de Golf Chapultepec. Atypical for Mr. Casey. Despite a T37 finish a week ago, Casey was a ball-striking phenom, his 9.2 strokes-gained/ball-striking was the most of any player in the field.
Gdula: Sungjae Im (50-1) — I want to keep my betting card pretty top-heavy just because the WGC-level field and course suggest that it’ll take a world class player to win. Im, though, will have four rounds to rely on his stellar ball-striking to keep him in contention. Louis Oosthuizen (+4100) is also heavily in consideration but may not be considered a long shot at the odds.
Riccio: Kevin Na (100-1) — Kevin Na is someone who excels on courses where you need to navigate around tight corridors (see Colonial last year, where he gained more than 16 strokes on the field. Mexico fits that course make-up, which is why I'm willing to go to him here.
Sobel, Action Network: Carlos Ortiz (125-1) — Quite frankly, Ortiz might be on this list no matter the event’s location. He ended last year T-4 and T-2, and after a few squirrely results to begin this year, he’s gone T-25 and T-26 in his past two starts. If you're looking for some salary relief in DFS, he could provide a lot of value.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sungjae Im (50-1) — I'm not going to miss out on Sungjae winning. In this field, Sungjae should be more like 33-1 or 35-1. His stats have been below Sungjae standards the past couple of weeks, plus a MC last week, so we're getting a break on odds. Take that to the bank.
Powers, Golf Digest: Tyrrell Hatton (66-1) — Hatton is making his first start since November, when he finally got surgery to repair a wrist that had been bothering him for nearly two years. Impressively, he was still pretty damn good with a banged up wrist over those two seasons. Now, you’re getting a fully healthy Hatton in an event he’s gone T-19, T-3 and 10th at in three appearances. If the rust factor scares you off, that’s understandable. But the number is too good for a player of his caliber with that type of course history.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Matt Wallace (150-1) — The Englishman ranks seventh in our Course Suitability Ranking this week in large part due to his excellent stats when putting on poa greens. A 27th-place finish here last year should give him the experience needed to push on here in 2020.
Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Dustin Johnson (6-1) — Compared to past years when Dustin Johnson won this event, he's really not in the same kind of form. He's now playing in his fourth straight week, too, so there might be some fatigue. DJ played OK last week, but when he had a chance to win, he faded hard. Same as Pebble Beach. His game isn't in the type of place, by my observations, to be confident to back him at these odds.
Mayo: Webb Simpson (16-1) — Yes, Webb is coming off a victory, so that’s fresh in our minds, but it’s easy to forget he only has four victories in the past eight years. And frankly, these days, if you want an elite Webb result, make sure the putting surfaces are Bermuda.
Gdula: Adam Scott (16-1) — It’s a bit of a cop out, but a win from Scott would be his third straight, and reaching high-end variance like that just doesn’t happen often. Scott has played this event only once, which resulted in a 45th back in 2017 due to dreadful ball-striking. He’s just overvalued at 16-1.
Riccio: Adam Scott (16-1) — There's a temptation to let recent results cloud our judgment, but let's stick to the stats. My model runs Scott's numbers and identifies his odds of being more like 40-1. The oddsmakers are adjusting their numbers based on the recent results, rather than the longer sample size, which is why I don't think 16-1 is strong value for Scott.
Sobel, Action Network: Adam Scott (16-1) — All Scott has done in his last two worldwide starts is gone Win-Win, so this might not be the most confident fade, but I’m of the belief that two straight weeks after two months off—especially when the first of those weeks was spent chasing a title—could leave him a bit worn down. He finished just T-45 the first time this event was played in Mexico, then skipped it two years in a row. I’ll bank on the mental and physical toll getting the best of him by the weekend.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Adam Scott (16-1) — I thought I'd be alone in fading Scott. But it appears that it's actually the popular opinion.
Powers, Golf Digest: Adam Scott (16-1) — I'm jumping on the fade Adam Scott train like the sheep I am, which runs the risk of all of us looking like a bunch of dopes if he wins. But back-to-back wins in back-to-back weeks is so rare on tour. Just as Scott, who accomplished that feat in 2016 and then went nearly four years without a tour win.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Rory McIlroy (5-1) — We correctly faded McIlory last week due to his poor putting on poa greens. By the end of the event he ranked just 55th for strokes-gained: putting at the Genesis Invitational. Back on poa greens this week we can expect more struggles from the tournament favorite.
2020 WGC-Mexico Championship: Matchups
Caddie: Rory McIlroy (-150) over Dustin Johnson (BetMGM) — In line with my DJ fade, I think this is an easy bet. Rory and DJ were neck and neck until DJ pulled away last year. And Rory enters playing much better golf than DJ. I know -150 is heavy, so make this a two-unit play for me.
Mayo: Justin Thomas (-106) over Jon Rahm (BetMGM) — Rahm’s great and everything, but JT is better. Especially at a course where he’s never failed to finish outside the Top 10 in three starts. He had a bad week at Riviera. Sorry, a bad round at Riviera. It happens.
Gdula: Xander Schauffele (-126) over Bryson DeChambeau (FanDuel) — It’s easy to love Xander at a course like this where he has finished 14th and 18th in the past. He’s a small-field stud with three wins in such events. DeChambeau is trending up, but there’s still value on X here, surprisingly.
Riccio: Hideki Matsuyama (+100) over Adam Scott (BetMGM) — Hideki is much higher in my model than Scott over a longer sample size, and you're getting a big break on pricing. Hideki quietly finished T-5 last week at Riviera, which tells you his game is strong. That's just a few more putts that Adam Scott made that Hideki didn't. I like this matchup with Hideki quite a bit.
Sobel, Action Network: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Three-ball matchup: +240) over Patrick Reed, Sungjae Im (FanDuel) — Not many players have played a Challenge Tour event and WGC in back-to-back weeks, but that’s the case for Bezuidenhout, who won the Dimension Data Pro-Am on Sunday (which was co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour). He should be a popular play for those who have been paying attention lately – and really, I don’t mind him for a top-10 wager or DFS play. The hope here is that he’s undervalued against a couple of bigger names.
_Hennessey, Golf Digest: Kevin Kisner (+110) over Jordan Spieth (DraftKings) — In a field of 66 players with stats measured by FantasyNational.com, Spieth is abysmal in many categories going back to the last 50 rounds. Third-to-last in strokes gained/approach; bottom 10 in strokes gained/off-the-tee. After the top 10 at Pebble, with impressive strokes gained/ball-striking stats, we wondered whether or not Spieth was on track to figuring it out. Then he lost five strokes on his approaches last week, and that was the answer we needed. Kisner, on the other hand, is at his strength: Playing on a shorter course (at 10-percent elevation) is where Kiz thrives. I'd prefer Kiz's driving accuracy and iron play over Spieth right now. Love the plus-odds.
Powers, Golf Digest: Louis Oosthuizen (+150) over Tommy Fleetwood (DraftKings) — Last week I took Dustin Johnson +138 over Justin Thomas, which worked out nicely. I’ll stick with the same logic I used last week for this week’s matchup, Oosty over Fleetwood: Anytime you give me plus odds on on a top 20 player just to beat one other top 20 player I’m going to take it. If being a sucker is wrong I don't want to be right.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Dustin Johnson (+120) over Rory McIlroy (Betway) — DJ putts 0.4 shots per round better on these greens than McIlroy does. Over four rounds that gives DJ almost a 2 shot head start over McIlroy.
Matchup results last week: Powers: 1 for 1 (Dustin Johnson (+138) over Justin Thomas); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Rory Sabbatini (-110) over Emiliano Grillo); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Dustin Johnson (-124) over Tiger Woods); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Xander Schauffele (-122) over Tony Finau); Tour Caddie: 0 for 1. Mayo: 0 for 1: Riccio: 0 for 1; Action Network/Sobel: 0 for 1.
Matchup results this season (assuming each matchup is a one-unit wager): Alldrick, FanShare Sports: 11 wins, 3 losses, 1 push (up 7.24 units); Mayo: 9 for 16 (up 2.37 units); Hennessey: 4 for 6 (up 1.86 units); Tour Caddie: 7 wins, 5 losses, 1 push (up 1.58 units); Powers: 3 wins, 2 losses, 1 push (up 1.53 units); Sobel/Action Network: 9 for 16 (up 1.32 units); Riccio: 8 wins, 7 losses, 2 pushes (up 0.75 units); Gdula: 5 for 13 and two pushes (down 1.79 units).
Top 10 (odds from FanDuel Sportsbook)
Caddie: Abraham Ancer (+470) — With the home crowd at his back and his aggressive play, a top-10 might be a formality around here—which makes these odds very attractive.
Mayo: Bernd Wiesberger (+750) — All it took was back-to-back missed cuts during the Middle East swing to push Weisberger down the board. This is a pure value play. The Austrian’s odds simply do not match his status. Currently the No. 23 player in the world, Weisberger has three wins in the past year and is floating around the middle of the pack European Tour players in this event and with the likes of Charles Howell III. Massive disrespect.
Gdula: Tyrrell Hatton (+700) — Hatton is returning from a wrist injury, but he’s actually dealt with wrist problems for years now. Hatton has twice finished top-10 at this event (10th in 2017 and 3rd in 2018) and was 19th last year. Hatton is a balanced golfer based on his stats, and that’s a key for me this week. I want golfers who check all four strokes gained boxes.
Riccio: Marc Leishman (+380) — Nearly 4-to-1 for someone playing as well as Leishman? I really like this.
Sobel, Action Network: Viktor Perez (+600) — Perez has been tearing up the European circuit this season is the more proven commodity and has shown that his game can travel, so I’m listing him as the top-10, while Perez is newer to the elite-level global golf scene, but did post a T-4 at the WGC-HSBC Champions last year.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Corey Conners (+750) — The Canadian has turned into one of the best iron players and off-the-tee golfers in the world. Where driving accuracy and iron play is paramount, like Chapultepec, I like giving Conners a shot at these really high odds.
Powers, Golf Digest: Sergio Garcia (+300) — In three starts at the WGC-Mexico, Garcia’s worst finish is a T-12. At Riviera he finished fourth in the field in strokes-gained: off-the-tee and 10th in tee-to-green, but finished T-37th because of what’s plagued him his entire career: putting. He’s taken a liking to the greens at Chapultepec though, gaining 3.1 strokes last year and 4.5 the year before. Let’s bank on a better putting week from Serg again, which should put him in contention.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Danny Willett (+900) — The Englishman has climbed from 276th in the world to 31st, thanks to a victory and a 5th place finish in his last 10 events. We have him ranked fifth in our Course Suitability Ranking this week, mainly due to his performances on short playing courses so we are expecting a lot from the former Masters winner in Mexico.
Top 10 results last week: Everyone: 0 for 1.
Top-10 results for the year (assuming a one-unit wager): Mayo: 3 for 15 (up 6.5 units); Sobel/Action Network: 3 for 15 (up 4.3 units); Alldrick/FanShare: 3 for 16 (up 2.9 units); Gdula 2 for 16 (down 5.7 units); Powers: 1 for 5 (down 2.35 units); Riccio: 1 for 16 (down 12.5 units); Hennessey: 0 for 5 (down 5 units); Tour Caddie: 0 for 14 (down 14 units)
Outrageous, Degenerate Bets of the Week
As part of our new Golf Digest betting podcast, we have a segment at the end of the show where our host Alex Myers calls us out for our most degenerate bet of the week (Hennessey won two weeks ago for betting on Monday WTP tennis in Russia). Here are our candidates for this week, to make Myers' job easier (and hopefully your bankroll larger).
Powers: As I explained in the podcast this week, I don't have a ton of interest in betting in someone like Dustin Johnson at 8-1. Where I do have interest is parlaying that with other wagers to make it worth our while. There's a lot of college basketball games I like on Wednesday (I love Rutgers at home in the RAC, but being a New Jersey bettor, I can't legally bet on NJ college sports).
Here's my parlay: Dustin Johnson (7-1 to win the WGC-Mexico); Siena ML -278; Louisville ML -500; Duquesne ML -556; Villanova ML -200; Duke ML -278; La Salle ML -358; Deontay Wilder to beat Tyson Fury (Saturday, fight at the MGM Grand. Draw no bet) -110. That's a $10 bet for me that pays $768.40. Let's get it. (Duke is going to kill this one. Remember I said this.)
Hennessey: Powers has been big on the DOUBLE golf bets lately. And since he's not taking one this week, I'm going to—thinking that I'll be able to dunk in his grill if I hit and he doesn't take one. If you're not a true degenerate, here's what a double entails: You parlay two outright winners of a golf tournament together (knowing how impossible it is to predict one tournament correctly, let alone TWO on the same week, the odds become HUGE). The idea is to pick two favorites, so the likelihood of them winning is somewhat likely. But if you're feeling bold, you might parlay a couple longshots together for a really, really big payday. Last week, Powers thought including John VanDerLaan (who?!) in a Genesis/Korn Ferry Tour double was a smart decision.
Here's my slightly more likely double for this week: Rory McIlroy (+550 at BetMGM) with Maverick McNealy (+2500 at BetMGM). That's a $5 bet to win $845 at 168-1 odds. Pray for Powers.
About our experts
Dr. Lou Riccio, a PhD senior lecturer, teaches rational decision making at Columbia's Graduate School of Business and has served on the USGA's handicap research team for three decades. His predictive analysis and modeling helps him make expert picks for our column.
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, a senior editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year (congrats, Brandon!). Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Jason Sobel is a senior writer for The Action Network. For more analysis from The Action Network, click here.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.