With a field gathering only the very best in the world, a 10.25 million dollar purse, and a featured event in a different country, the stage was set for a star-studded, drama-filled week of golf. Of course, Dustin Johnson took care of that with 4 stellar rounds of 67 or lower, combining 22 birdies and an eagle against 1 bogey and 1 double bogey to post a net total of -21, 5 clear of Rory Mcilroy’s -16. Simply put, DJ was dominant. He combined his trademark power with deadly irons, and topped it off by leading the field in putting. With so much shuffling at the top of the rankings recently, DJ reminded us that when he gets in a groove he may very well be the toughest one to beat.
Elevation was again a huge emphasis this week, as players were bombing drives all over the course and able to sometimes even take irons off the tee while trying to reach par 4’s. Although tee shots remained relatively straightforward, it’s always an interesting event in Mexico because you see how some players seemingly consistently struggle with yardages and putting. SG: OTT leader Jon Rahm, one of the favorites entering the tournament, finished t-45th, falling outside the top 50 in every other major category. Tiger, Tiger, Tiger Woodssss!!! was 66th off the tee but 1st in approach, and save for a miserable weekend putting, would have been in the top 5. I think numbers like this go to show the full body of work it takes to win at Club de Golf Chapultepec. You have to be clicking in all facets of your game, or you will make bogeys in a hurry. The green complexes here ranked as some of the toughest on tour, specifically from short range (cough, cough Tiger), so even when you do hit a good tee ball and calculate the approach yardage correctly, your work is not done. Before we return stateside and prep golf fans for PGA National and the Bear Trap, lets take a look at some major takeaways from the second WGC of the season.
1: Dominant Dustin: Mentioned above, DJ cruising to victory was the story this week. He played nearly flawless golf aside from a shaky start Sunday, and never took his foot off the gas while capturing his second title in Mexico. Dustin is rightfully known for his length, but his accuracy off the tee and pedigree with the wedges is what really set him apart in Mexico. Tree lined fairways don’t bother him, his approaches are spot on, and when he putts like he did this week he will rarely be beaten. Congrats to Amateur Hour alum, Austin Johnson, on being locked in with yardages and reads all week as well. Caddies are always crucial, but they especially earn their keep given the many challenges presented this week.
2. Hello again, Rory: Another week, another recap featuring Rory. This guy just keeps knocking on the door. McIlroy capped off another great week with a 2nd place finish, and this time there isn’t much more he could have done. He fired a final round 67, including 6 back nine birdies in which he holed numerous putts of significant length. Even though it wasn’t that close when he was making those putts, I believe he will leave Mexico with confidence knowing he rolled the flat stick with such success in legitimate contention. He is going to win soon, and as it stands, is an extremely dangerous threat to be the recipient of the green jacket during the post Masters ceremony.
3. JT, the flamethrower: Every now and then, guys on tour get absurdly hot. And if you had to ask the golf world who the most dangerous player any given round is, the answer would most likely be Justin Thomas. We’ve seen him card a 59, and this week he was up to his old tricks. On Sunday, JT went out and birdied 9 of his first 12 holes, and added one more along with a bogey to tally a final round 62, tying the course record he set last year, and vaulting into the top 10. Club de Golf Chapultepec clearly fits his eye, and if his three starts so far offer any indication (5th-2nd-9th), he will hoist the WGC-Mexico trophy multiple times before his career is over.
4. Old Rickie Returns: Unfortunately for Fowler fans, this was quite a frustrating week. Rickie totaled a mind blowing 19 strokes over par. He had 8 bogeys, 4 doubles, and 1 triple. The triple was aided by a flawed drop rule, but the big number has always been Rickie’s nemesis, and it is undoubtedly the reason he has yet to win more tournaments or a major. Let’s hope this was a rare occurrence, as he has been much better in recent years at avoiding the blow up holes.
5. Worldwide event: WGC’s naturally bring out players from all over, and it’s a great change of pace from the regular tour events. The world represented well in this one, with 7 non Americans placing in the top 10. Ian Poulter joined Rory and Paul Casey in the top 3, and Poulter has been playing some extremely solid under the radar golf this year. The Rat balled out as well, finishing 11 under and tied for third. Always good to see Kiradech in contention. Sergio, Cameron Smith, and Joost Luiten rounded out the world contingency in the top 10.
Overall, this was not the super exciting event we hoped for, but there was some tremendous golf played by the world’s best all week. With so many players trending (DJ, Rose, Rory, Tiger, Phil, JT, etc) and The Players and major season right around the corner, we are set up for a fantastic stretch. It was also great to see Steve Sands back at work this week with NBC. Sandsy turned 50 recently, and is simply the best in the biz! Happy Bday Sandsy! Onto PGA National and the Bear Trap this week. Thanks as always for reading, and I will see you next Monday!