For the first time in 2023, PGA TOUR players reach for their passports and travel to Mexico for the 2023 Mexico Open at Vidanta. After its debut on the PGA TOUR schedule last year, we are running it back at Greg Norman’s Vidanta Vallarta resort course in Puerto Vallarta. Below, we’ll dive into Mexico Open odds for this week’s PGA TOUR betting.
The prevailing narrative this week is not whether Jon Rahm will win, but by how many strokes. On one hand, he has just one opponent inside the OWGR top-50 to contest (Tony Finau), but on the other hand, he edged a group of Finau, Brandon Wu, and Kurt Kitayama by just one stroke in 2022, where Rahm broke an 11-month winless drought.
Going in blind to this event last year, Vidanta Vallarta seemed to profile as a bomber’s paradise, standing over 7,500 yards with generous fairways and moderate rough. Long hitters like Rahm, Finau, Kitayama, and Cameron Champ contended throughout the tournament. It would seem there’s credence to that narrative and merit behind chasing the longest drivers and best long-iron players yet again this time around. Here’s a look ahead at everything you can expect from Vidanta Vallarta ahead of the 2023 Mexico Open.
MEXICO OPEN ODDS: THE FAVORITES
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THE FIELD AT A GLANCE
The negative repercussions of a new Designated Event schedule fall on in-between events, which star players are less likely to travel out of their way for. The Mexico Open feels a bit out of place geographically on the schedule, as it sits in the heart of the PGA TOUR’s east coast swing. Perhaps swapping its position with the Honda Classic and contesting this event the week after the Genesis Invitational would have drawn a stronger field, but alas, setting the PGA TOUR schedule is not my job.
Instead, we’ll see a whopping three players inside the OWGR top-65. Defending champion Jon Rahm returns to defend of his victory from the inaugural Mexico Open (2022). Fresh off a Masters win – making it four PGA TOUR wins already in 2023 – and new World No. 1 honors, he likely opens with historically low odds, potentially around 2-1 or 3-1.
Tony Finau as the only other notable competitor in this field, also likely to open at 10-1 odds or shorter. He led the field from tee-to-green in 2022 when finishing T2, and is a great fit for this course to challenge Rahm’s title defense.
After Rahm and Finau, there is a significant talent gap in this field, with Alex Noren, Patrick Rodgers, Davis Riley, Gary Woodland, and Maverick McNealy expected to represent the next tier of betting favorites this week.
INTRODUCTION TO VIDANTA VALLARTA
Going into this event in 2022, plenty of guesswork was needed to project how it would play at the professional level, hosting some of the best players in the world for the first time. From the information available, we assumed the course would be long, just under 7,500 yards at sea level with slow and sticky Paspalum grass throughout. Puerto Vallarta is also known for its high winds just off the Pacific coast line, so we can expect top players in windy conditions to be suited for this set up. That is a standard formula to favor the players with the longest carry distance and long-iron play.
It doesn’t always work out this way. But after a one year sample size, it seems all the presumed narratives of course fit for bombers and top long-iron players rings true. With such a clear archetype of player in mind, it should be pretty straightforward to narrow down a player pool of contenders this week to those two criteria, with an added bonus of performance in comp coastal, windy conditions.
For Vidanta Vallarta course specs, hole-by-hole breakdown with yardages, and past Mexico Open winners with their pre-tournament odds, visit our Mexico Open page.Editor’s Note
COURSE COMPS & 2022 TAKEAWAYS
Vidanta Vallarta is a long course that rewards the best long-iron players from 200+ yards. The constant presence of wind and familiar slow and sticky Paspalum greens should reward players with proven results on coastal resort courses. Players like Tony Finau, Alex Smalley, and Patrick Rodgers demonstrated that with their top 10 finishes in 2022.
The Best Comp Courses
Coco Beach, host of the Puerto Rico Open, and Corales Golf Club, host of the Corales Puntacana Championship, are the two clear-cut best comps. Each are resort-style courses exposed to high winds, that also feature Paspalum grass. They rely on distance as their core defense, each sitting at over 7,400 yards. For the most part, they do not penalize players for wayward drives off the tee. And as an added bonus, each annually draws some of the weakest fields we see all year. Nico Echevarria and Matt Wallace, winners from each event earlier this season, will be in the field this week at the Mexico Open.
The top 10 players in SG: TOT between these two courses are: Alex Smalley, Nate Lashley, Tony Finau, Brandon Wu, David Lipsky, Ryan Brehm, Akshay Bhatia, Nico Echevarria, Chris Stroud, and Harry Hall.
Between these two comps, Vidanta Vallarta should play more like Coco Beach. At Corales, shorter hitters found as much success as the bombers. Ramey, McDowell, Garnett and Joel Dahmen won in five of its first six years. Corales gets a majority of its length from several 600-plus yard par 5s. That neutralizes some of the distance advantage when players can’t reach the green in two shots. At Coco Beach, we’ve seen more success from bombers like Brehm, Hovland, and Finau.
Other Comp Courses
I think it’s important to look beyond these two comps and glean further insight from similar courses equipped with ShotLink data. We may get a more holistic view of translatable performance.
TPC Craig Ranch comes to mind when considering comps in the continental US. Like Vidanta Vallarta, TPC Craig Ranch was a very player-friendly course which attempted to toughen up for tournament play by extending tee boxes in its first year. Despite record rainfall, it featured minimal rollout on Zoysia fairways and rewarded players with long carry distance.
Caves Valley also presents an interesting comp as a new course in 2021 which relied on length as its main defense. However, it did not prevent the longest of hitters from bombing and gouging it into a birdie-fest. Caves Valley featured extreme elevation changes and thick rough, the antithesis of Vidanta Vallarta’s identity. But, I believe the same profile of player will find success.
Congaree is another new TOUR addition which favors bombers with generously wide fairways, although it played significantly firmer and faster than this week’s event will. The Plantation Course at Kapalua, CC of Jackson, Torrey Pines, and Kiawah Island round out a list of comp courses which favor the longest hitters in the field and discount the need for driving accuracy or elite skillsets around the green.
Combine performance across each of these comps, and the top 10 players in Comp Course History from this week’s field are: Jon Rahm, Peter Malnati, Nate Lashley, Wesley Bryan, Henrik Norlander, Tony Finau, David Lipsky, Brandon Wu, Luke List, and Nick Hardy.
KEY STATS TO CONSIDER
- Driving Distance
- SG: APP / SG: Ball Striking
- SG: T2G (Recent Form)
- Birdie or Better Gained
- Prox 200+
- Sand Saves Gained
- SG: T2G (>7,400 Yard Courses)
- SG: TOT (Windy Courses)
- Comp Course History
A top-10 course in total yardage last season, Vidanta Vallarta’s generous fairways should continue to serve as a bomber’s paradise and reward the longest drivers in the field. The top 10 in terms of driving distance over the last 36 rounds are: Brandon Matthews, Cameron Champ, Matthias Schmid, Nicolai Hojgaard, Trevor Cone, Kyle Westmoreland, Byeong Hun An, Gary Woodland, Derek Ernst, and Brent Grant.
Vidanta Vallarta features three 195+ yard par-3s, four long par-5s, and six par-4s over 450 yards. Combined, that drew 35% of total approach shots from beyond 200 yards, nearly double the PGA TOUR average. Suffice to say, the best approach players from 200+ yards can separate themselves from the field this week. The top 10 from that range are: Gary Woodland, Jon Rahm, Paul Goydos, Nick Hardy, Augusto Nunez, Charley Hoffman, Luke List, Kevin Roy, Davis Riley, and Michael Gligic.
I’m not looking very closely at Short Game stats this week beyond Sand Saves Gained. The greens complexes seem to be very straightforward and Paspalum tends to level the playing field.
If this is as simple as who can can drive it the farthest and knock their irons the closest, six players rank top-40 in Driving Distance & Prox 200+, and above-average in SG: P: Jon Rahm, Davis Riley, Wyndham Clark, Matthias Schmid, Seung-yul Noh, and Kevin Tway.
It seemed this course would lean towards a birdie fest with its generous fairways and not-so-penal rough. But, scoring in 2022 was kept at bay thanks to the constant intervention of the wind, with a winning mark of -17 from Rahm. Even still, this is the type of course where aggressive players can capitalize. The top 10 in Birdies or Better Gained are: Jon Rahm, Tony Finau, Wyndham Clark, Ben Martin, Akshay Bhatia, Brent Grant, Byeong Hun An, Harry Higgs, Patrick Rodgers, and Dylan Wu.
Just four players in the field rank above average in Prox: 200+, Driving Distance, Birdies or Better Gained, Comp Course History, and SG: Short Game: Rahm, Finau, Wyndham Clark, and Matt Wallace.
Correlation at Vidanta Vallarta
A one year sample size isn’t much to draw confidently from, but it’s all we’ve got for Vidanta Vallarta. The correlation charts can be used directionally this week. Judging from 2022 performance, SG: Short Game, Par 3: 175-200, and Double Bogey Avoidance made the most notable jumps compared to TOUR average. Conversely, Par 4: 450-500 and SG: Ball Striking were considerably less correlated with top results in the 2022 contest.
Six players in the field rank above average in each of the above key stat categories: Jon Rahm, Tony Finau, Wyndham Clark, Matt Wallace, Stephan Jaeger, and Hank Lebioda.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: GARY WOODLAND
Well, if not now, when would be a better time to see Gary Woodland pick up his first PGA TOUR win since the 2019 U.S. Open? On paper, Vidanta Vallarta is your quintessential fit for Woodland’s game, favoring longer hitters who are elite with their long irons, can flight lower approaches beneath the wind, and level the playing field on the greens with this grainless Paspalum putting surface.
The results in 2023 have not been representative of how resurgent Woodland’s ball striking has become, as he ranks No. 2 in SG: Ball Striking over the last 36 rounds. He is No. 1 in the all-important category of Proximity: 200+, and has not lost any distance since turning 38 this year, ranking top-10 in Driving Distance as well. Woodland was top-5 in SG: T2G at this event last year, justifying the profile fit.
A deficient short game has been the issue for Woodland over the last year – 3.5 strokes lost on the greens here in 2022 relegated him to a modest T24 finish. Over the last 36 rounds, he ranks No. 130 in this weak field in terms of SG: P.
However, there may be a beacon of promise with Woodland’s putting. He gained four strokes putting in his latest start at the RBC Heritage, his best putting performance since the 2020 Workday Charity Open. If Woodland can carry over that momentum and simply remain neutral to the field putting, he has the ball-striking chops to contend with discounted odds to Rahm and Finau .
WHAT TO WATCH FOR AT THE 2023 MEXICO OPEN
It’s hard to get too excited over this event given its lack of history, weak overall field, and the presumption that Rahm should run away with this one. I’m never one to delve into the “Winner Without” market, but with Rahm expected to open around 3-1 odds, I’m likely to pause on placing any outright bets until I see what the value looks like between markets.
With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in the 2023 Mexico Open odds as well. I’ve broken the list down by projected pricing/odds tier for DraftKings.
2023 Mexico Open Model Breakdown
In my model this week, I’m emphasizing Comp Course History, Recent Form (SG: T2G), SG: APP, Prox 200+, and Driving Distance, followed by a more balanced mix of SG: TOT (Windy Courses), BoB Gained, Sand Saves Gained, SG: Short Game, Par-3 Scoring and Par-5 Scoring.
Jon Rahm unsurprisingly leads with Tony Finau behind in the No. 2 spot. If you are running a model and Rahm and Finau are not in the top two positions, you should probably throw that model away and try again.
After Rahm and Finau, the rest of my model’s top 10 is rounded out by: Wyndham Clark, Patrick Rodgers, Ben Martin, Eric Cole, Matt Wallace, Lanto Griffin, Davis Riley, and Joseph Bramlett.
When 2023 Mexico Open odds open, I would love to bet Rahm, but unfortunately don’t see him opening at a bettable number any longer than 4-1 odds. So assuming Rahm is a no-go, I’ll instead look to Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Wyndham Clark, and Byeong Hun An depending on where the odds ultimately open.
Check back in later this week for more updates. Best of luck navigating 2023 Mexico Open odds!
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