Tournament: World Golf Championship - Mexico Championship
Course: Club de Golf Chapultepec, 7,330 yards, par 71
Defending Champion: Adam Scott. Scott came in on the heels of his victory 1 week earlier, and became the first person to ever capture the first two legs of the Florida Swing (first 2 tourneys held in Florida at beginning of season). This obviously when the tournament was held in Florida, keep reading for why it has moved
Fun Fact: The course designer, Willie Smith, was a Scottish golf pro in the late 19th and early 20th century. He stuck around to work at the course, probably preferring the weather over his native Scotland. However, he ran into a spot of bother, as soldiers attacked the club during the Mexican Revolution and Smith was killed by debris.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 2-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, noon-3 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, noon-2 p.m. (GC), 2-6 p.m. (NBC).
Former 'Dawgs in the Field (Two): Kevin Kisner, Bubba Watson
There should be three ‘Dawgs playing, but Hudson Swafford was just bumped out of the FedEx top 10, and did not qualify elsewise. Essentially this tournament is for the top 50 in the world rankings, top current season earners, and a smattering of top players from the other world tours. The field looks to be set at around 75 total golfers. Oh, and there is no cut. Which means as long as you tee it up and finish 18 holes for 4 consecutive days, no matter what you shoot, you will cash about $50,000 for your efforts. Note that the field is made up of who has been successful over the last two years (read: made good bank), and you can see that the rich get richer.
Speaking of unabashed capitalism, this tournament had seemingly found a home at Doral Country Club over the last several years. Doral has almost always hosted an early season tournament due to its famed “Blue Monster” course and its normally perfect late winter weather (essentially Miami). But corporate sponsors change, and the Tour changes with them, so an allowance was made to move one of the five “World Golf Championship” events to Doral to replace a typical PGA tournament. Then, wouldn’t you know it, a certain real estate brand came in and purchased the Doral club, and it was renamed Trump National Doral. Yep, #45 bought it (well, his partners did) several years ago, and all seemed well until certain comments were made that certain people didn’t like. The Tour, being the bastion of all-inclusiveness, decided those comments were too hot to be associated with, and moved the 2017 tourney to another course. Where did they decide to move, you ask? The logical answer being... Mexico. There are rumours that the Tour was unable to renew a sponsorship deal (Cadillac being the previous sponsor), and the Mexico contingent came up with a package so attractive that the Tour has signed on for golf in Mexico the next 7 years.
So the Tour is now South of the Border (not Dillon, SC), and the world’s top golfers have descended en masse’ (I think Mexico is kinda loose on allowing those in from other countries). Newly crowned world #1 Dustin Johnson will be there, Rory McIlroy will play his first golf in a month after aggravating a rib, Henrik Stenson plays in this hemisphere for the first time since October, and essentially the who’s who of professional golf will also tee it up.
Included in that bunch is our own Bubba Watson and Kevin Kisner. Bubba has had an off year by his standards. The #15 ranked player in the world (after having spent over a year inside the top 10) has only played 4 times, and only made the cut twice. He did withdraw from the Genesis Open 2 weeks ago, but I’ve seen nothing relating to an injury. I have seen lots of sponsorship appearances and promotions though, so he’s keeping busy. Busy enough to be outside the top 100 in most every statistical category other than driving distance, many of those outside the top 200. Let’s just say he’s rusty.
Kisner on the other hand, has been playing more frequently of late. 48th in the world, he’s made 6 of 7 cuts, and 2 of those have been top 10s. The last four tournaments resulted in T4, T25, T10, and T48 (after being in the top 10 going into the last round). All of his statistics bear this out, including high placement in shots gained off the tee, shots gained hitting the green, approach proximity, etc. Even his putting bears this out - it’s basically very poor. So that seems to be what is holding him back each week.
We will see if the Kiz can keep it going, and if Bubba can get it back on track. So unless you just have to see TNT’s recent showings of The Battle of the Five Armies (and count me in there), flip the TV on over to NBC and Golf Channel to see if our boys can make the US very good for another time.
And as always….