Mexico Open Preview: Can Tony Finau defend his crown at Vidanta Vallarta

By Bryan Nicholson

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21 February 2024

It's always interesting to take on the favourites at major-type courses like Riviera where strategy comes more into play. Neither Rory McIlroy nor Scottie Scheffler was to be seen on Sunday having taken up around 20% of the book pre-tournament. It was flusher central atop the leaderboard as another elite fader, Hideki Matsuyama, took the title but now the drama of the Signature Events dies down for a stretch.

The third edition of the Mexico Open at Vidanta Vallarta takes centre stage and with a prize pool of $8 million and 500 FedEx Cup points on offer, this course offers up a theme of raw power. Jon Rahm and Tony Finau have been first and second in both previous editions, and they are two power faders. Throw the likes of Cameron Champ into the mix on both occasions and the player profile is set this week.

Finau unsurprisingly leads the market at a short price of 10.0 ahead of his defence. With the Euros going well of late on the PGA Tour, Nicolai Hojgaard is the perfect fit for the course but 16.5 is about right. Big hitters Keith Mitchell and Taylor Pendrith also come into the market sub-30.0.

The Course

Vidanta Vallarta is a lengthy par 71 at around 7500 yards designed by Greg Norman. Generous fairways, water hazards, and Paspalum grasses are the theme on a resort-style track that caters to par breakers. Go low or take the next plane out of Mexico. If we're looking for a course correlation, TPC Twin Cities springs to mind but the rough here shouldn't be a problem. Driving distance and approaches with long irons are at a premium here.

The Contenders

Thomas Detry (34.0 or 4.6) doesn't get the nod from me too often and it's usually because of price but given the form he's in right now, I'll get him onside at the price as I love Detry's long and straight driving for Vidanta. With form reading 20-4-28 (that doesn’t portray the whole story) he rates 9.27 out of 10 on my progressive form model. The Belgian ranks 19th in strokes gained off the tee and 11th in Total Driving.

Jake Knapp (42.0 or 5.9) was on the radar at the Phoenix Open and he was going well up to a point, eventually finishing t28. This was on the back of a t3 at the Farmers Insurance Open. Knapp is on the radar due to his raw power from the tips and he was second in the KFT driving distance ranks in 2023. He makes a lot of par breakers and ranked sixth in this stat on the Korn Ferry Tour last year, along with leading the tour in par five scoring average. Knapp ranks 10/10 in my model for approaches from 150-175 yards.

Chris Gotterup (65.0 or 8.4) is another player known for his big hitting and I'll take a chance on the Korn Ferry Tour grad here. Gotterup finished up last year on the KFT in fine form with a myriad of top 20s. While he hasn’t started his PGA Tour adventure with a bang, he has shown signs of potential. It’s only a sample of a handful of events but he’s leading the tour in driving distance and approaches from 175-200 yards – two key metrics at Vidanta.

Cristobal Del Solar (290.0 or 17.5) shot a 57 on the Korn Ferry Tour recently so he knows how to go low in a birdie fest. He owns a lot of top 10 recent finishes on the second-tier tour, and I can't help but feel he's being a little underrated in the market. The Chilean owns current form of 4-27-5 on the Korn Ferry Tour and was ninth in total birdies on that tour in 2023.

Recommended Bets

Back Thomas Detry to win @ 34.0 or top 10 @ 4.6
Back Jake Knapp to win @ 42.0 or t10 @ 5.9
Back Chris Gotterup to win @ 65.0 or t10 @ 8.4
Back Cristobal Del Solar to win @ 290 or t10 @ 17.5

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