¡Vamos! The PGA Tour Heads South For The Mexico Open At Vidanta

¡Viva la Mexico!

Welcome to Mexico's National Championship. This tournament has been around for 87 years, but this is only the 2nd year since it became a stop on the PGA Tour. Previously, it had been considered a Nationwide Web.com Korn Ferry Tour event or a PGA Tour LatinoAmerica event, but now it's part of the big show.

It makes sense. We obviously have the US Open, the Canadian Open is a regular Tour event... events like the Scottish and Irish and Spanish Opens fill up the European Tour calendar... why shouldn't the Mexico Open be one of the gang? Especially when the PGA Tour had already featured Mexico with Mayakoba and the WGC-Mexico in recent years. 

With that said, this fits in in a weird spot on the calendar, with the Tour having been in New Orleans last week and moving to Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo (another elevated event) next week. That makes for a bit of a weak field. More on that later.

This tournament, like most national championship golf tournaments, typically bounced around amongst venues from year-to-year. This year's tournament for the 2nd year in a row is at Vidanta Vallarta on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, about 550 miles west of Mexico City.

Vidanta is one of the premier hospitality conglomerates in Mexico. This is a helluva vacation facility with 4 golf courses and a lit (literally) par 3 course, amongst plenty of other activities and such on site. This is resort golf, no question about that. More on that in a minute.

Some big names further back in history won this event, such as Jay Haas, Billy Casper, Lee Trevino, Tommy Armour III, Ben Crenshaw, among many others. So the newer status of this event should really re-juvenate this tournament and hopefully draw more big names in the future. 

Having Jon Rahm win this thing last year certainly helped matters. Rahmbo blitzed the field with a Thursday 64 and held off Tony Fianu, Kurt Kitayama, and Brandon Wu on Sunday to edge them out by 1. It actually ended a bit of a drought for Rahm, who had not won since winning the US Open the year prior despite racking up 9 Top 10's in the interim.

Last year's leaderboard and recent winners of the Mexican Open.

2022 Leaderboard

Recent Winners

The Course

The signature course at Vidanta is a Greg Norman design opened in 2016, typically played as a par 73 measuring nearly 7,300 yards from the tips. For the world's best, a few alterations have been made to change a couple of the par 5's into par 4's and have this play as a par 71 from 7,456. The 4th has actually been lengthened to 520 yards and the 16th has been shortened to 506 yards, each becoming par 4's in the process.

As is typical with Greg Norman designs, the fairways are generously wide and the greens are large too. Very literally a resort golf course. Going into last year's tournament this course was described as a bomber's paradise, and the results definitely backed that up. Rahm and Finau are two of the first names you think of when it comes to bombs off the tee.

There's a handful of lakes around the property, which come into play on 11 of the 18 holes. There's also 106 bunkers littering the property - you won't find a hole without one. Most of them were added in the effort to make this course more challenging for these pros. 

The grass is paspalum, which is typically found in this type of climate. The other courses often seen on Tour with paspalum are Corales Puntacana in the DR, El Cameleon for the Mayakoba, Coco Beach in Puerto Rico, and Kiawah's Ocean Course. Paspalum greens typically run slow and the rough should not be too penal. Scores should be low.

Best Hole Best Golf Cart Bridge

Typically I try to single out a given hole as the course's signature hole or the best one to watch on TV… I'm going a different direction this week. Despite the Tour playing there last year, there's still a lot unknown about this course. One thing I did consistently see discussed throughout my research last year was this damn bridge. Apparently it's the longest golf cart suspension bridge in the world, and connects the resort to the golf course area. Pretty sweet, and that's coming from a guy who appreciates a good golf cart bridge (s/o Lighthouse Sound)

The Weather

Sunny. Gorgeous. Mexico. 

The Coverage 

The Trophy 

Hector Vivas. Getty Images.

Yup, this thing is an absolute unit, just like the guy holding it. That's how any national championship trophy should be. This is a great fastball, nothing cute about it. 8/10

The Board

Predictably Jon Rahm is the heavy favorite against an otherwise weak field at +225 at the Barstool Sportsbook. Tony Finau is really the only other bonafide star playing this week, and his odds come in around where favorites usually go off at +700.

Together their “double chance” is +138, with the field getting -186 against those 2. Very much tells you what type of tournament this is. 

You’re welcome to just go one of those routes, but I’m gonna have some fun and take Nicolai Hojgaard at +2500. This pick reminds me a bit of the big winner I hit a couple years ago with Garrick Higgo at the one-off Palmetto Championship at Congaree. Little known European Tour up-and-comer who is playing well and could break through with a career-changing win against a lesser field. Hojgaard has won twice on the DPWT and is one of the longest hitters playing top tier golf on the planet. He should thrive on this course with plenty of space to smash it long.

Other Plays

Hojgaard Top 10 +250 - Hit it hard.

Luke List Top 10 +400 - hasn’t made much noise since winning at Torrey last year but should do well on this track.

Garrick Higgo to Win +6600/Top 10 +500 - run it back.

Cameron Champ To Win +12500/Top 20 +350 - hasn’t been the best couple years for him but this is the type of scenario that could right the ship.

Tony Finau over Jon Rahm +188 (tournament) - midas whale get some action at the top. Rahm may have won here last year  but Tony was right there too. Like the value.