After a week of pairs action at the Zurich Classic, focus on the PGA Tour switches back to the traditional stroke-play format with the Mexico Open proving the perfect warm-up for some of the world’s best golfers ahead next week’s Wells Fargo Championship.
Matt Fitzpatrick was the big winner at the RBC Heritage two weeks ago but won’t be in action at Vidanta Vallarta where a $1.386 million prize is up for grabs for the winner. And neither will either of Davis Riley or Nick Hardy following their maiden success in New Orleans last week, having seen off the challenge from Wyndham Clark and Beau Hossler, who led heading into the final round.
Defending champion Jon Rahm is back in the field having finally had a break following his Masters success at Augusta. The Spaniard claimed a one-stroke victory here last year over Tony Finau, Kurt Kitayama and Brandon Wu following a pulsating final round, which at one point saw a four-way tie for the lead before Rahm pulled ahead over the closing holes.
The PGA Tour’s nemesis Greg Norman had his hand in designing the 7,456-yard, par-71 golf course that weaves its way around the 106 bunkers that have been strategically placed around the large Paspalum greens in the ultimate case of risk-and-reward, providing you can position yourself strategically off the tee on the fairways. If you’re unlucky enough to start on the 10th, then an immediately tricky opener awaits which played as the eighth toughest hole on the PGA Tour last season, to the point that Rahm recorded his only bogey in the final round on the 500-yard par 4.
So who are the best bets for this week’s action? Where do we see value in the field? And what could be your DFS picks that will make all the difference? Time to see what FRACAS has to say about the 2023 Mexico Open.
Who Will Win the 2023 Mexico Open? The FRACAS Golf Picks
Well, it won’t surprise you that world No. 1 and FRACAS No. 1 John Rahm is the favorite to go back-to-back with a staggering 20.7% chance of once again being champ at the Mexico Open at Vidanta Vallarta. This is well over double the chance of his nearest rivals for the title in Tony Finau (6.9%), Maverick McNealy (3.0%) and Wyndham Clark (2.4%).
The eclectic array of holes in Mexico suits the Spaniard’s ability to gain strokes on the field, especially with four par-4 holes coming in around 500 yards, meaning his driving distance over his rivals should see him take advantage on holes like the 498-yard second where our predicted hole average for the field is just over four shots (4.039), while our expected score for Rahm across the week is 3.23. Could he string together birdies here on his path to the title?
Rahm is an overwhelming choice to play into the weekend with a 93.9% chance of making the cut and an incredible 55.2% of finishing in the top five. Imagine starting any golf tournament with over a 50% chance of fifth-place finish better.
Unsurprisingly, bettors won’t find much value in Rahm on the likes of FanDuel, Caesars, BetMGM or other sportsbooks when it comes to the Mexico Open odds. Although it does feel like he’s a must play in your DraftKings and DFS picks. But don’t be flicking over to the MLB or NBA this weekend thinking this one is in the bag because, my friends, it’s time to introduce you to the week of the longshots and the bonus bets.
The 2023 Mexico Open Predictions: FRACAS Value Picks
Among our projected favorites, it might be worth keeping an eye on Gary Woodland, who has a higher chance of finishing the first round in the lead (2.8%) than he does of winning the tournament (2.3%). The 2019 U.S. Open champion hasn’t endured a missed cut since the Arnold Palmer back in March and is favored more than Patrick Rodgers (2.0%) for overall success at this PGA Tour event.
Our value hunters have been out and think they may have found something in Mark Hubbard. Current odds have him around 100/1, but there’s a lot to like about his game around this course as one of the best hitters on his day. Granted, he’s missed the cut in three of his last five events, including at the Valero Texas Open, but if his putter can run hot on these greens, especially on his favored par 3s, he could be one to keep an eye on.
By contrast, Erik Van Rooyen (0.9%) will potentially struggle through this course’s par 3s, but we are expecting him to make up strokes in batches in Mexico, in particular the stretch from holes 15 through 17. If he can hold firm on the 18th, then his chances of repeating his top-10 finish from the Valspar Championship earlier this season aren’t impossible to dream of.
And if you want a real longshot, come to the deepest darkest corner of our model. He’s only four positions back from Van Rooyen, but Martin Laird’s odds of 200/1 for the win make him the potentially perfect value play for a place finish. The Scot’s last victory on tour came at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in 2020 in a playoff, seeing off Austin Cook and Matthew Wolff. The fact that the course has a single long par 3 – his strong suit –slightly dampens his hopes of overall success.