WGC-Mexico Championship betting preview and tips from Ben Coley

Tommy Fleetwood can win his first World Golf Championship title in Mexico this week - that’s according to Ben Coley, who has four each-way selections.

Recommended bets 2pts e.w. Tommy Fleetwood at 22/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7) 2pts e.w. Xander Schauffele at 22/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7) 1pt e.w. Paul Casey at 40/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7) 1pt e.w. Matt Fitzpatrick at 66/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6) Had it been played a week earlier, and the Genesis Invitational never happened, the WGC-Mexico Championship would’ve looked at the mercy of the top four in the betting. In this scenario, Rory McIlroy is back at number one and seeking revenge for being lapped by Dustin Johnson here last year. DJ himself is going in search of a third victory in four starts at Chapultepec. Justin Thomas, who has twice shot 62 here, arrives on the back of third place in Phoenix. Jon Rahm, who contended here in his first full season as a professional, goes looking for his sixth top-10 finish in succession. Instead, Riviera happened, and what happened at Riviera has just exposed one or two problems for each of these four to address. Most disconcerting were the performances of Thomas and Rahm, the latter faring well enough in terms of final position yet claiming to be all at sea with his swing. Johnson meanwhile started hooking wedges after making the turn on Sunday in second place, while McIlroy made a meal of things early in the afternoon and only sneaked fifth with a birdie at the last. These concerns are in part offset by the absence of several likely candidates, and the fact that one or two bad rounds shouldn’t matter much. As such, it’s difficult to disagree with a market which makes McIlroy a marginal favourite over Johnson, with Thomas and Rahm relegated behind DJ. It wouldn’t be surprising were any or all of them to quickly find an answer, but this tree-lined and troublesome course might just catch them out if those niggles of the Genesis have not quickly been addressed. Forced to choose, Johnson would have to get the vote - I’ve sided with him three times already this season, after all. However, chancing him at Riviera when 14/1 is very different to getting stuck in here at 7/1 and, for all that he has a shot in hand over all bar two here in terms of course scoring average, he just didn’t do enough to impress me last week. He did talk a good game, mind you, and will doubtless be winning at some stage this year. It’s what he does. The main difference between this week and last is that the second wave of players is missing the likes of Tiger Woods and Patrick Cantlay, and their absence combined with this funny little layout makes it a good event for an each-way bet. Encouragingly, the feeling I had before Chapultepec made its debut - that it was perhaps European in nature - has been reflected in subsequent results, and that’s the starting point. Back then, I put up TOMMY FLEETWOOD at what seems a nonsensical 200/1 and, three years on, he’s done enough to justify a tenth of the price and goes in as the headline bet. A brilliant Sunday charge saw the Englishman post a competitive clubhouse target which forced the world’s best player to pull out all the stops in 2017, and at the time Fleetwood referenced a “very European course” which very much suited his eye. That edition saw Ross Fisher finish third as the best drivers in the field populated the top 10, and that remains a nice starting point. Chapultepec begins with a driveable par-four which players like Fleetwood can reach with a three-wood, and throughout it’s important to position yourself off the tee around a tree-lined layout which can take as much as it gives. Despite not hitting the ball as well on two subsequent visits, the Englishman has been 14th and 19th to further underline how comfortable he is here, and he was bang in contention at halfway last year before a quiet weekend saw him lose all chance of winning.

Video element not supported Tommy Fleetwood Highlights | Round 2 | 2019 WGC - Mexico Championship

He returns in even better form, fighting back from an opening 75 to somehow finish 11th last time, and his iron play is exemplary. Fleetwood has ranked no worse than eighth for greens hit in his last nine starts dating back to Wentworth, where he was a mere 13th, and he’s driving the ball as well as ever. He really ought to avoid the trouble spots and set up sufficient chances to go close. I like the fact that he doesn’t have a big miss, and that one of his compatriots calls him the most disciplined golfer he’s ever played with. For all that we’re still learning about this course and that Phil Mickelson did his thing here in 2018, for my money it’s a place where hitting fairways and greens carries increased value and there’s arguably nobody better in the sport at the moment. The break since the Middle East isn’t a big concern - he arrived fresh here in 2017 and has twice won in Abu Dhabi after Christmas - and for all that he’s not winning quite as often as he’d like, his strike-rate is very close to his starting price. It doesn’t account for the further 20 top-six finishes since he returned to the world’s top 50 in this very event, and another of those is strongly fancied. The player who hailed Fleetwood’s discipline is MATTHEW FITZPATRICK, and if he can brush up on his putting this looks a good opportunity for him, too. Fitzpatrick has been 16th, 30th and 26th in his three appearances here, in a slightly less overt demonstration that the European Tour contingent have generally taken to a course which looks and plays more Fanling than Firestone. Since last year’s renewal, the 25-year-old has clocked up five runner-up finishes - that’s six since he last won - but there’s nothing wrong with his attitude and he was still all smiles after Lee Westwood produced a Sunday clinic to pinch the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship to start the campaign. From there, Fitzpatrick has flattened out a little but his Pebble Beach form is easily ignored, as he had a stand-in caddie and hasn’t shown much of a liking for either of the well-known, multi-course pro-ams so far in his career. Last week, he battled back really well following a slow start at Riviera, and 30th place was an excellent debut at a course which takes some knowing. He ranked sixth in strokes-gained approach, too, and it’s aggressive iron play which has powered so much of his best form. A contender in the last World Golf Championship to be played, he can step up again here at the sort of tree-lined course which suits him so well, and there are no concerns about the altitude factor with a veteran caddie on the bag and two wins in the Swiss Alps on his CV already. Fitzpatrick knows he’s got a fine chance to get back into the European Ryder Cup side and he also knows he’s playing well enough to win a serious prize this year. Chapultepec is a course on which he can certainly compete with the world’s best and having been as accurate as ever in his Riviera warm-up, he’s primed to go well.

Shoutout the people’s Euro Matt Fitzpatrick @MattFitz94 finishing T2 for a fun $519,000 in Abu Dhabi this weekend. pic.twitter.com/CNWQ3fzB5a — Riggs (@RiggsBarstool) January 19, 2020

Those backing one of the big four can base their confidence around the roll-of-honour in this event, but look closer and you’ll see that European Tour colouring to each of the three leaderboards. After Fleetwood and Fisher went close in 2017, Rafael Cabrera Bello, Tyrrell Hatton and Kiradech Aphibarnrat were both bang there a year later, before Aphibarnrat again hit the frame in 2019 with Joost Luiten producing his best WGC performance in 10th. David Lipsky and Fabrizio Zanotti are others who came here and produced much more than had been expected having been operating on the European Tour, Shubhankar Sharma can also be added to the list, and there’s little doubt Chapultepec has played a part in making them all feel at home. It’s with that in mind that the top-20 market is again worth a look, and in particular it could pay to wind the clock back to November’s marathon play-off for the Turkish Airlines Open. That might seem a spurious link, but Aphibarnrat was third at Montgomerie Maxx Royal in 2015, Ian Poulter was clear at halfway before finishing second a year earlier, and Sharma was seventh on his debut there late last year. Lipsky is another who has played better than expected at both courses. The winner in Turkey, Hatton, has been 10th and third in Mexico and the courses share certain similarities, not least their risk-reward nature, their density of trees, and a blend of short par-fours and reachable par-fives which make for big disparity between best and worst scores on any given day. With Hatton back from injury, Matthias Schwab’s long game a little worrying, Erik van Rooyen having been disappointing lately and Kurt Kitayama maybe a little too erratic for comfort, it’s the French pair who were involved in that play-off who interest me most. Victor Perez has taken his game to a new level entirely since winning the Dunhill Links and the way he’s playing he’ll be on the Ryder Cup side in September, but the less spectacular Benjamin Hebert might be the one to fly completely under the radar and finish close enough to the top 10 to reward some kind of support.

Benjamin Hebert could go well at a massive price

Though a few years older and with nowhere near the same potential as his younger compatriot, Hebert has also taken his game to knew heights over the last year or so and his low-key form to start the season - MC-45-27 - hints that he’s almost back in the form which saw him go close not just in Turkey but also in Scotland and China last year. He’s a fairways-and-greens type whose form in the Maybank Championship (seventh), Turkey (second), Made In Denmark (sixth) and at Wentworth (12th) suggests this could be a course he takes to, but having hoped to put him up at around 10/1 for a top-20 I’m inclined to leave the best-price 15/2 alone this time. Back to the outright market then and I can’t resist PAUL CASEY, for all that he’s been suffering on Sundays lately and might be a difficult watch if in the mix this weekend. In fairness, his run of poor final rounds (72-72-75-71-81-75) isn’t a reflection of feeling the pressure as he’s seldom if ever been properly in the mix during this unwanted sequence, and at some stage it’ll come to an end and he’ll go very close to winning. Indeed six good Sundays and he’d probably be arriving here on six top-10 finishes, so his form is better than it looks and I really like his game for the course, one so similar to Fleetwood in that he carves out a good living on reliable driving and quality iron play. Casey was brilliant both off the tee (seventh in SG terms) and with his approach play (fifth) last week and concerns around the putter are mitigated somewhat by his efforts here. He’s played the event in each of the last three years, putting better than average each time, and a pair of weekend 65s in 2019 showed what he can do if they really start to drop. His form at the Chapuletpec now reads 16-12-3, and it’s interesting to note that I put him up at 40/1 here in 2018. At the time I referenced an interview in which he’d essentially said he was fed up with not winning and had taken measures to correct it, having gone four years without a trophy and almost 10 without a title on the PGA Tour.

Thank you México! A massive thank you to everyone who makes this one of the best weeks on tour. T3 was a great result after the start and congrats to Dustin. wgcmexico pgatour… https://t.co/6rEJDb4SP9 — Paul Casey (@Paul_Casey) February 24, 2019

In somewhat typical fashion, he won the very next week, and that’s the first of three wins in his 50 starts between then and now. He still has the odd Sunday wobble, but deserves credit for this hat-trick of titles, particularly as each of them has come by a single shot and therefore under constant pressure. I mention all this not to argue that he’s massively underestimated from a win-only perspective, but to demonstrate that he has found the piece of the puzzle that was missing in 2018. Two years on, he’s demonstrated some excellent course form, and if the putter behaves on greens which will baffle plenty then he looks to hold a rock-solid each-way chance. Similar comments apply to Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen, and Shane Lowry also made the list. He’s gone well at altitude, his record around tree-lined courses is very strong, and his magic touch around the greens could work nicely here. Last year’s disappointing debut is the main concern but don’t be surprised if Lowry, a WGC winner as well as a major champion, steps up massively on that. However, I expect they’ll all play well without winning and the same goes for Rafa Cabrera Bello, so it’s XANDER SCHAUFFELE who completes the staking plan. Like Fitzpatrick, he’s endured a year of frustration having so often been the bridesmaid, most painfully when blowing a big chance to start 2020 with a bang in the Tournament of Champions. Again like Fitzpatrick, there should be no concerns as to his ability to see the job through and he could well gain compensation here, in a no-cut event the like of which he’s shown such an affinity for in his brief career to date. Three of Schauffele’s four wins so far have come in limited fields without a cut, as have a further three runner-up finishes, and he went really well to a point here on debut on his way to the first of two top-20s in as many visits. Throughout both he’s been dialled in with his long-game, only some real issues around the green costing him a place last year, and having caught the eye both last week and in Phoenix he’s very close to contending again. Schauffele isn’t putting as well as he can but that shouldn’t be a long-term thing and with a lack of serious title contenders beyond the big four, he looks to hold an excellent chance of ending a run of silver medals in style.

¡Una experiencia completamente nueva en el primer hoyo! 😍

𝘈 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘪𝘳𝘴𝘵 𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘦!#WGCMéxico 🇲🇽 pic.twitter.com/SDD3MCyYXg — México Championship (@WGCMexico) February 16, 2020

Posted at 1830 GMT on 17/02/20 Click here for Ben Coley’s tipping record