Mexico Open at Vidanta picks 2023: The case against Jon Rahm
Look, it’s not the Masters or the RBC Heritage. Hell, it’s not even the Zurich Classic, but the Mexico Open is what we’ve got this week, and you will never catch us taking a week off or “passing” on an opportunity to hit a winner.
That rings more true than ever this week, as we’re coming off yet another outright cash from Andy Lack, who has now picked two of the past three winners on the PGA Tour—Jon Rahm at the Masters (+950) and Davis Riley and Nick Hardy in New Orleans (55-1). That’s already a hell of a first year for our newest expert-picker.
We should also mention our expert panel—which also consists of a caddie reporting live from Vidanta this week—went a cool 6-for-6 on their matchup bets last week. If you followed along, you cleaned up at the Zurich.
Let’s keep the good times rolling south of the border this week.
Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2023 Mexico Open.
Mexico Open at Vidanta picks 2023: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Tony Finau (+850, FanDuel) — This is a course that really suits bombers, and when there's no real penalty for a shot that goes off line, it's the kind of place Finau should really pick apart. He hasn't been playing his best, but he could roll out here and shoot 20-under pretty easily.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Tony Finau (+850, FanDuel) — Runner-up here last year, Finau finds himself the best combination of odds, form, and value on the board this week. He’ll be able to gain distance on the field, which is an important aspect for this week’s event at Vidanta Vallarta, and with better putting, he’d have won here last year while easily leading the field in SG/tee to green.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Wyndham Clark (16-1, DraftKings) — Clark has been knocking on the door all season long and last week was no different. He partnered with Beau Hossler in New Orleans and they were pinned to the top of the leaderboard all week before finishing third. That marks Clark’s third top-six finish in his last four starts. Over the past 100 rounds, he’s the third best player in this field, gaining 1.08 strokes per round, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. He’s playing the best golf of his life and now gets to battle a weak field in Mexico.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Nicolai Hojgaard (30-1, DraftKings) — Just a few starts ago, the Dane finished runner-up at the Corales, which is also on paspalum putting surfaces. The 22-year-old hits the ball a long way, and though he lost more than three strokes off the tee at the Valero, that was accuracy-induced. That won’t be an issue at Vallarta Vidanta, where his power should put him in a place to attack. He also gained more than five strokes on approach at the Valero, so that should work nicely.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Taylor Pendrith (60-1, Pointsbet) — The belle of the golf gambling ball late last summer has since gone cold and subsequently faded from the discussion each week. That tends to happen when you miss three of your last five cuts, with your two results during that stretch coming outside the top 60. But this course should accentuate the Canadian’s strengths – gaining strokes off-the-tee and striping it with his long irons. This could be the perfect get-right spot for Pendrith, whose best-career performances on tour have come in weaker-field events like this one.
Andy Lack, RickRunGood.com and Inside Golf podcast: Gary Woodland (25-1, BetMGM) — Gary Woodland has had a frustrating existence on the PGA Tour since winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach back in 2019. That said, he’s playing some of the best golf of his career, and from a ball-striking standpoint, Woodland has proven that he’s incredibly close to crossing the finish line. The 38-year-old is coming off a 31st at the Heritage, where he gained over two strokes both off-the-tee and on approach. Even more encouraging is that he gained four strokes putting, which has been the missing piece for Woodland all season. I wish there was more value in his outright number, but in such a weak field, it’s hard to envision a more perfect scenario for the trending Woodland.
Past results: Folks, we’re heating up (again). Well, Andy Lack is. With his tout of Davis Riley and Nick Hardy at 55-1 to win the Zurich last week, he now has two winners in April (Jon Rahm +950 at the Masters). Not bad for a first-year panelist. That gives us six outright victories as a squad on the year. Let’s make it seven in Mexico.
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Mexico Open at Vidanta picks 2023: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Garrick Higgo (75-1, FanDuel) — Bomb the ball and wedge it close: That is the Higgo DNA. He's been playing better golf over the past few months after some changes to his team. This could be the place where it all clicks.
Gdula: Luke List (65-1, FanDuel) — Last year, the top tee-to-green golfers at Vidanta Vallarta finished well unless they were outliers with the putting (Charles Howell and Kevin Na were bottom-three in putting among cut-makers). That’s more than on the table for List, whose putting is always a problem, but the emphasis on distance and tee-to-green game makes List a nice long shot this week.
Gehman: SH Kim (55-1, DraftKings) — Kim partnered with Ben An last week, finishing T-13 and earning a second straight top-15 finish. He’s made eight of his last nine cuts and boasts a well-rounded game on the stat sheet. He’s savvy with the flatstick in hand, gaining strokes putting in 13 of 16 starts this season, per the RickRunGood.com golf database.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Emiliano Grillo (55-1, FanDuel) — As Rick has pointed out, Emiliano Grillo has by far the best putting splits on paspalum in this field, and he’s also an elite ball-striker who should be able to separate himself with all these middle and long irons. Grillo has been trending up for a while, and at this price, it’s worth the gamble.
Powers, Golf Digest: Luke List (65-1, FanDuel) — I’m taking the bomber narrative this week and running with it. List, like my outright pick Pendrith, has seemingly fallen on hard times of late, missing four of his last five cuts. But those were mostly terrible course fits for List (Harbour Town, TPC Sawgrass). That won’t be the case at Vidanta, where List can smash driver and we can simply pray that the putter cooperates like it did that one time at Torrey Pines.
Lack: Will Gordon (70-1, FanDuel) — I have long been a fan of Will Gordon’s talent, and Vidanta Vallarta is a perfect spot for him to break through at the PGA Tour level. Gordon is one of the longest players in this field off the tee, an incredibly strong long-iron player, great out of the sand, and he makes a ton of birdies. The outright number is more than fair on the Vanderbilt product, and I expect him to find his way onto the first page of the leaderboard.
Mexico Open at Vidanta picks 2023: Players We’re Fading
Caddie: Patrick Rodgers (28-1, FanDuel) — The Stanford product is playing some great golf, but let's not get too crazy. He shouldn't have the fourth-highest odds in this field -- despite it being such a weak pack.
Gdula: Nicolai Hojgaard (24-1, FanDuel) — I get the hype and like Hojgaard long-term but not this week. Hojgaard is long off the tee, yet the number is too short at 24-1 based on his recent data, so I’m not seeing the path to betting Hojgaard this week.
Gehman: Tony Finau (+800, DraftKings) — I’m certainly not hitting the panic button but there are few concerning items in the stat profile of someone as talented as Tony Finau. The first concern is that he’s lost strokes off-the-tee in four straight starts and hasn’t gained multiple strokes off-the-tee in any of his last six starts—quite unusual for Finau. Secondly, his short game is causing concern at times. He’s lost strokes around-the-green in four of his last six starts and he’s lost strokes putting in two straight. Again, he could pop into form at any moment, but I’d prefer to invest at longer odds.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Jon Rahm (+260, DraftKings) — I really applaud Rahm for coming back to defend his title from last year. I won’t judge anyone for betting this price, as he’s the rightful, short favorite in this field … but we’re not here to bet sub-3-to-1 outrights.
Powers, Golf Digest: Tony Finau (+800, DraftKings) — Finau has made every cut since his Houston Open win, never finished worse than 31st during that stretch and has gained strokes on approach and tee-to-green in all of those events. And yet, I just can’t get there, especially at 8-1. You could argue there’s value considering he’s actually playing solid and it’s a big price jump from Rahm’s +260, but I’m looking elsewhere.
Lack: Maverick McNealy (35-1, DraftKings) — Of all the players in this field regularly priced under 40-1, I have the most questions about Maverick McNealy. His iron play is routinely not at the level of his similarly-priced peers, and he has failed to back up a solid fall swing this calendar year on the PGA Tour with only one top-25 finish, which came at the Sony Open back in January. There are far more appetizing options and better courses fits to be found at this price point.
Mexico Open at Vidanta picks 2023: Matchups
Caddie: Aaron Rai (-108) over Beau Hossler (FanDuel) — Hossler's getting a bump for the close call at the Zurich Classic with Wyndham Clark, but I'd trust Aaron Rai's ball-striking (top 70 on tour in SG/off-the-tee and SG/approach) over Hossler, who's negative in the ball-striking categories this season.
Gdula: Wyndham Clark (-137) over Gary Woodland (FanDuel) — Both are about as long off the tee as anyone in the field, but the ball-striking overall is about even. Clark has a big edge in short game over Woodland, so that makes him appealing in this matchup.
Gehman: Emiliano Grillo (+100) over Beau Hossler (Bet365) — Grillo might be the King of Paspalum, gaining 1.51 strokes per round on this putting surface over 40 rounds. That is, by far, the best scoring rate of anyone with the sample size that he can boast. He’ll enter this week off a T-7 at the RBC Heritage and ready to post another great finish.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Vincent Norrman (-122) over Peter Malnati (FanDuel) — Malnati has missed 10 of his last 14 cuts, and though he’s capable of a spike week like Pebble Beach, this is a way different course that might put too much pressure on his long irons. His ball-striking hasn’t been good, either, losing 5.5 strokes in the ball-striking categories at Harbour Town, which is way more of a Malnati-type course. Norrman’s length should give him a significant edge this week over Malnati.
Powers, Golf Digest: Patrick Rodgers (+130) over Wyndham Clark (DraftKings) — Clark is riding a heater and it may be very dumb to fade him here but I’m going to because he doesn’t have Beau Hossler’s trusty putter by his side this week. Clark’s actually been putting OK, too, but not well enough to be this large of a favorite against Rodgers, who has similarly started to cook of late.
Lack: Joseph Bramlett (-130) over Mark Hubbard (DraftKings) — From a pure course-fit perspective, Vidanta Vallarta should accentuate what Joseph Bramlett does well far more than what Mark Hubbard does well. Bramlett is one of the absolute longest players in the field, and a worthy long-iron player as well. Hubbard, on the other hand, is one of the shortest players in the field, and the vast majority of his success have come on shorter, positional golf courses. On this specific style of track, Bramlett is the only way that I can look.
Matchup Results from the Zurich Classic: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Dahmen/McCarthy (-110) over Spaun/Buckley); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Clark/Hossler (-104) over Montgomery/Kitayama); Lack: 1 for 1 (Burns/Horschel (-130) over Montgomery/Kitayama); Powers: 1 for 1 (Taylor/Hadwin (-110) over Perez/Detry); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Mitchell/Im (-128) over Burns/Horschel); Gdula: 1 for 1 (T. Kim/S.W. Kim (-122) over Theegala/Suh)
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Gehman: 16-7-2 (up 7.75 units); Hennessey: 15-9-1 (up 4.98 units); Lack: 10-5-0 (up 4.05 units); Caddie: 13-11-1 (up 1.27 units); Powers: 12-12-1 (down 0.72 units); Mayo: 8-15-0 (down 7.51 units); Gdula: 10-14-1 (down 5.39 units)
Mexico Open at Vidanta picks 2023: Top 10s
Caddie: Emiliano Grillo (+490, FanDuel) — Ball-striking is Grillo's bread and butter. He might not make the putts when they matter, but he's one of the elite players in this field, though you're getting nearly 5-1 on him in the top-10 market.
Gdula: Joseph Bramlett (+410, FanDuel) — Bramlett is one of the better tee-to-green golfers in the field this week (13th over the past 50 rounds, via datagolf), and that’s a great recipe if last year’s data on this course is any indication. He did miss the cut here a year ago but got some experience at the new course and has had top-15s at tougher events somewhat recently, including Pebble Beach and the Farmers Insurance Open.
Gehman: Patrick Rodgers (+260, DraftKings) — Rodgers has broken out of a slump with a fifth-place finish at the Texas Open and T-19 at the RBC Heritage in his last two starts. His tee-to-green play has been stellar in those two events and he’s gained over 14 strokes ball-striking during the stretch. He’ll look to improve on his 10th-place finish from last year.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Gary Woodland (+230, FanDuel) — Woodland followed up a great Masters week with another stellar ball-striking performance at Harbour Town, losing strokes in the short-game categories. These green surrounds should present a way easier time for him to get up and down if he misses greens, but I love that his length and iron prowess should allow him to eat here in Mexico.
Powers, Golf Digest: Brent Grant (+1200, DraftKings) — Not sure you guys have seen my top-10 record, but I need to hit a bomb to make it look somewhat respectable. Grant is the perfect candidate for that—a long hitter who has already had some success in a similar event with a similar field, finishing eighth at the Corales Puntacana.
Lack: Alex Smalley (+360, DraftKings) — I have been high on Alex Smalley since his college days at Duke, and I have no reason to believe that he cannot repeat his sixth-place finish here last year where he gained over five strokes off-the-tee and over five strokes on approach. There is something about Smalley and slow, paspalum, tropical golf courses. He’s also had a ton of success at the Corales Puntacana Championship. The 26-year-old should find himself firmly in the mix come Sunday afternoon in Mexico.
Top-10 results from the Zurich Classic: Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Clark/Hossler +260); Everybody else: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Gdula: 8 for 25 (up 12.1 units); Gehman: 7 for 25 (up 8 units); Hennessey: 6 for 25 (up 5.95 units); Mayo: 6 for 23 (up 5.1 units); Lack: 5 for 15 (up 4.1 units); Caddie: 6 for 25 (down 1.5 units); Powers: 2 for 25 (down 16.9 units)
Mexico Open at Vidanta picks 2023: One and Done
Gehman: Ben Martin — Martin’s game has been trending in the right direction in 2023 and he’s the fourth-best player in this field over the last 36 rounds – behind only Rahm, Clark and Finau. He’s earned four top-15 finishes in his last seven individual events while gaining strokes primarily in the ball-striking categories. If there was ever an event for Martin to break through and win, it would be this one.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo. Sanderson Farms Championship: Sam Burns. Shriners: Taylor Montgomery. Zozo: Sungjae Im. CJ Cup: Matt Fitzpatrick. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Aaron Wise. RSM Classic: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Cameron Young. Sony Open: Hideki Matsuyama. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Jason Day. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Scottie Scheffler. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Sungjae Im. API: Rory McIlroy. Players: Jon Rahm. Valspar: Justin Rose. WGC-Match Play: Cameron Young. Valero: Rickie Fowler. Masters: Jordan Spieth. RBC Heritage: Collin Morikawa. Zurich: Kurt Kitayama.
Hennessey: Gary Woodland — I expect Woodland to continue with the hot ball-striking as he’s hungry to find the winner’s circle for the first time since his 2019 U.S. Open win at Pebble.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Cam Davis. Sanderson Farms Championship: Denny McCarthy. Shriners: Emiliano Grillo. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Sungjae Im. Bermuda: Mark Hubbard. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Jason Day. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Patrick Cantlay. Sony Open: Matt Kuchar. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Will Zalatoris. AT&T Pebble Beach: Seamus Power. WMPO: Collin Morikawa. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Keith Mitchell. Players: Rory McIlroy. Valspar: Adam Hadwin. WGC-Match Play: Tyrrell Hatton. Valero: Nick Taylor. Masters: Scottie Scheffler. RBC Heritage: Jordan Spieth. Zurich: Sahith Theegala.
Powers: Luke List — List at a bomber’s course with slow and sticky greens that might mitigate the need for a hot putting week? Sign me up.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Sahith Theegala. Sanderson Farms Championship: J.T. Poston. Shriners: Sungjae Im. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Tyrrell Hatton. Bermuda: Russell Knox. Mayakoba: Thomas Detry. Houston Open: Sepp Straka. RSM Classic: Davis Riley. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Gary Woodland. American Express: Cameron Young. Farmers: Taylor Montgomery. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Sungjae Im. Genesis: Collin Morikawa. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Will Zalatoris. Players: Patrick Cantlay. Valspar: Justin Suh. WGC-Match Play: Tom Kim. Valero: Matt Kuchar. Masters: Tony Finau. RBC Heritage: Rickie Fowler. Zurich: Robby Shelton.
About our experts
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. Mayo helped create the golf stats and research website Fantasy National along with the Race for the Mayo Cup One and Done contest. Mayo won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time. Follow him on Twitter: @ThePME.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @gdula13.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also a data analyst and writer for RickRunGood.com, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for Golf.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports