With spring and The Masters just around the corner, the 2017 season has started to take shape in recent weeks and many of the world’s top players have been competing at the early season tour stops. This week sees the first World Golf Championship (WGC) of the year, the WGC - Mexico Championship.
The Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City will be the seventh different venue and fifth country to host this particular WGC event, and as a result is regarded as the most international of the four. However, for the past decade the famous ‘Blue Monster’ at Doral in Miami has hosted the event and in the process became one of the biggest and most prestigious tournaments in world golf.
Outside the major championships, the WGC events have become the next four biggest tournaments in the game, which is fundamentally down to the fact Tiger Woods has won 18 of the 61 WGC’s and in the process lifted the prestige. Significantly, 45 of the 61 champions have won a major championship with only two (Nick Watney in 2011 and Patrick Reed in 2014) players having not done so in this particular WGC. Consequently, the WGC fields are as competitive as any championship within the game.
This early season form suggests that the higher ranked players have started the season strongly and worked hard on their games during the off-season – an important factor heading into the WGC in Mexico.
The world’s top 50 ranked players qualify automatically, along with many of the leading players from main tours around the globe who ranked highly in their respective order of merits last season (if they haven’t already qualified). This strength in-depth often means the tournament fields are more competitive than certain majors and therefore make the event one of the hardest to win. Consequently, with so many major champions having won WGC’s, here at TSZ we take a look at the major victors competing this week.
Judging by the number of victories in 2017 by players high in the world rankings and the number of major champions who have succeeded in the WGC events, a player ranked inside the top 20 with a major to their name will be the ones to follow.
Players who are competing at the WGC-Mexico Championship and are ranked in the world’s top 20 this season have recorded:
Club de Golf Chapultepec sits approximately 7,780 feet above sea level, where it is predicted the golf ball will be flying 10 to 15 percent further. Notably, Dustin Johnson is averaging 314 yards from the tee this season, which will mean he’ll be around the 350 mark frequently and with his wedge game and recent form, this makes him the firm favourite.
Another big hitter and major champion, Rory McIlroy, makes his return from injury and although lacking tournament practice, his last finish yielded a runner-up place in South Africa. Rory himself has even suggested his short game is as sharp as it has ever been due to him only being able to focus on this part of the game while injured, making him still a main favourite to collect another WGC.
Justin Rose has had a strong start to 2017 with three top five placings and ranks 17th in driving distance this season – a player with his driving accuracy and seemingly added yardage could see him win on one of the biggest stages again.
Perhaps an outsider to watch is Europe’s Tyrrell Hatton, who has averaged seventh place in 2017 with a fourth place finish during last week’s Honda Classic. He has risen in the world rankings over the past 18 months to 17th and looks like he is ready to win big after many close finishes recently.