This week, the PGA Tour brings us a brand new course (Vidanta Vallarta) and event (the Mexico Open), which takes a lot of the prep work out of things.
Yes, we can dig into the course and try to glean information, but we don't have any historical outcomes to leverage. The event itself technically has existed for a while across the PGA Tour Latinoamérica (from 2013 to 2020) at rotating venues. It also was a Web.com and Nabisco World Tour (now the Korn Ferry Tour) event from 2008 to 2011, yet it again was at a rotating set of courses, none of which were the Greg Norman design at Vallarta.
Let's dig into the course, the key stats, the win simulations, and the best bets of the week.
You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.
Vidanta Vallarta Course Info & Key Stats
Distance: 7,456 (long: ~160 yards longer than the average par 71)
Fairway Acres/Yard: N/A (PGA average is 4.1)
Average Green Size: N/A square feet (PGA Average is 6,000)
Green Type: Paspalum
Past 5 Winning Scores: N/A
Past 5 Cut Lines: N/A
Key Stats (in Order of Importance): Strokes Gained: Approach, Driving Distance, Strokes Gained: Putting, Birdie or Better Rate
The specific course in play this week is the Greg Norman Signature Course at Vidanta Vallarta, which will play as a 7,456-yard par 71. With the Sierra Madres in the background and its location on the Pacific coast, we could be looking at windy conditions. Early projections don't imply steady wind but do anticipate gusts reaching 20 miles per hour.
The PGA Tour Media Guide cites "large landing areas" with plenty of water hazards and sandy waste areas. Given the large landing area angle, we can probably advocate for driving distance being a key stat to help get golfers into target ranges for approach shots leading to birdie chances.
With any resort-level courses, we should anticipate low scores, so an emphasis on ball-striking and birdie ability will ultimately win out for me this week.
Golfers With Great Course/Event History
This is a first-time event and course.
Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their FanDuel Sportsbook win odds.
Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets
An LOL at Jon Rahm's win odds (+450) and simulation odds (16.0%). There's not enough value there to bet it for me, but he's easily the guy this week.
I'm not seeing pure value at the top of the board very often, though it does exist on Aaron Wise (+3200), who is a key DFS pick for me, as well.
Realistically, I'll be starting my card with Wise at +3200, thus leaving a lot of flexibility from there. Pairing him with Chris Kirk (+3200) and Sebastian Munoz (+3200) sounds like a nice way to get some longer odds without plugging too many darts into the cannon.
Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for the Mexico Open at Vidanta
All stats cited below originate at FantasyNational. Strokes gained data includes stats from the past calendar year and is adjusted based on my field strength and recency tweaks. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. All ranks and percentile ranks are among the field. References to my combo model refer to a combination of long-term, field-adjusted form, key stat performance, and hole-by-hole-level strokes gained data.
Best of the Best
Jon Rahm (FanDuel Salary: $12,200 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: +470) - If we're talking cash games (head-to-heads, double-ups, 50/50s), then Rahm is extremely difficult to avoid recommending -- especially with Daniel Berger's withdrawal. He easily leads the field in adjusted strokes gained average and is in the 85th percentile or better in long-term off-the-tee, approach, and putting strokes gained. He has the distance-plus-irons combo I'm seeking. In tournaments, we can justify a fade or being underweight on Rahm if we anticipate a birdie-fest that leads to plenty of fantasy points for everyone and that Rahm doesn't win. The salary isn't prohibitive.
Aaron Wise ($10,700 | +3400) - Wise is a volatile option but fits the criteria for what I'm seeking. Wise boasts 76th-percentile distance, and while the long-term putting is weak (30th percentile), Wise is a plus putter from within 15 feet and should experience regression soon. Also, with the rare paspalum greens, we can consider things a little bit equalized this week. If building around Rahm, we'll need a second-tier stud at the top.
Cameron Champ ($10,400 | +4200) - I'll give a third detailed pick given the drop-off we get in this field in the low-$9,000 range. Champ will gain distance on the field and strokes off the tee overall as a pretty safe guarantee given the rest of this field. That's a nice headstart. And while Champ doesn't come to mind as a good putter, he's in the 80th percentile in strokes gained: putting from within 15 feet. That's a fantastic sign for the putter to get right, and Champ is a win pick I'm certainly keying on with things lining up like they do.
Others to Consider:
Sebastian Munoz ($11,000 | +3100) - Golfing really well currently; strong tee-to-green data.
Chris Kirk ($10,800 | +4200) - Odds could shorten from 42/1; 99th-percentile tee-to-green numbers and good out of the sand.
Lanto Griffin ($9,700 | +5500) - When you get a new course and may not know exactly what to expect, it can't hurt to target all-around golfers. That's Griffin's bread butter. Griffin ranks in the 86th percentile in approach play over the past year and has plus distance. A good putter from key ranges, Griffin seems ready to improve on the recent form, which includes no top-35 finishes since mid-February.
Austin Smotherman ($9,300 | +6500) - Smotherman is a ball-striking machine. He ranks in the 98th percentile over the past year in my adjusted strokes gained: ball-striking stat, and datagolf's true strokes gained: ball-striking data ranks him _+. Smotherman also is in the 84th percentile in distance gained, which should very likely be a key stat this week on the long par 71. He technically has won this event (2018), though it came at a different course, on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica.
Others to Consider:
Taylor Moore ($9,500 | +6500) - Long hitter who makes birdies. That's the general recipe for this week.
Scott Stallings ($9,400 | +6500) - Nice distance (69th percentile) and a plus across all four strokes gained stats.
Chad Ramey ($9,300 | +6500) - Has 87th-percentile irons and rates as a high-risk, high-reward play. T5 in Puerto Rico; winner at Corales.
Kevin Chappell ($9,000 | +8000) - Chappell has been trending up after being a forgotten man. Chappel has finished T15 at the Corales Puntacana, T18 at the Valero Texas Open, and T29 at the Zurich Classic while playing alongside James Hahn. Chappell has plus distance and has been popping at similar events.
Brian Stuard ($8,800 | +11000) - Why not target the shortest hitter in the field when I'm looking for distance? While distance is a presumptive key stat, Stuard still happens to rank in the 65th percentile in adjusted tee to green play despite a lack of distance. That's stellar, and he's the second-best long-term golfer in the field at a salary of $9,000 or lower.
Others to Consider:
Pat Perez ($8,900 | +9500) - Short hitter but a good golfer, the best below $9,000 long-term.
Alex Smalley ($8,300 | +14000) - Great driver who will see birdie chances if the irons are there; T2 at Corales.
Peter Uihlein ($8,000 | +16000) - Flashes on KFT (T17 and 2nd in past two) and making PGA Tour cuts. Has distance.