The PGA Tour returns to Mexico for an old event making it’s first appearance on a big stage so read Steve Rawlings’ in-depth preview to find out who he’s backing …
Steve says: “Although situated around a mile from the Pacific Ocean and the Banderas Bay, the Norman Signature Course doesn’t look like a typical coastal track. The 2015 Greg Norman design, which is staging the event for the first time, winds along the banks of the Ameca River providing views of the Sierra Madres from every hole.
“It’s a long, flat track with wide fairways and very little rough. The entire course is blanketed by Platinum paspalum and water is in-play on as many as 14 holes. The greens, which will be set to 12 on the Stimpmeter, are undulating and protected by large bunkers, of which there are 106 in total.
“Indigenous trees, native grasses and jungle surround the core course layout which is reached via the world’s longest golf cart suspension bridge spanning the Ameca River from Nayarit to Jalisco …
“Cameron Champ is now injury-free and if his top-ten finish in the US Masters is anything to go by, where he ranked second for Greens In Regulation, he could be winning again soon.
“The 26-year-old has already won three times on the PGA Tour and this track should be ideal for him given how far he hits it off the tee. He currently ranks number one for Driving Distance on the PGA Tour – averaging a whooping 321 yards! “
Steve’s bet: Back Cameron Champ @ 60.059/1
David Tindall has three each-way tips starting with a young player who looks to have rediscovered his form after a dip …
Dave says: “My best guess this week is that we’re looking for ball-strikers and who should we find top of that category which is a measure of Total Driving and Greens In Regulation? Yep, tournament favorite Jon Rahm.
“Rahm is just 4/1 to get it done which looks way too short although he’s bullied weak fields like this before. Thankfully this is an each-way preview so he’s not on the radar at that price.
“At 38th on the Ball-Striking stats is Davis Riley and he takes my interest at 50/1. He hit the headlines at the Valspar Championship last month when having a great chance to win before finishing runner-up.
“There was much talk then of how good a player he could become but it wasn’t the biggest surprise that Riley took an immediate dip after that near miss with tied 63rd in the Texas Open and a missed cut (by a distance) at the RBC Heritage.
“But at last week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Riley teamed up with his good buddy Will Zalatoris to finish in a tie for fourth. “
Dave’s bet: Back Davis Riley each-way @ 51.050/1
Next up Dave discusses which players could be well-placed to make a strong start in Mexico on Thursday and recommends a trio to back …
Dave says: “Aaron Wise is certainly a big fan of golf in Mexico and has the chance to go low again from his 08.40 tee-time. The big-hitting American is a former runner-up at the Mayakoba Golf Classic and he’s finished in the top 20 in four of his last five starts on Mexican soil.
“At El Camaleon on his last visit to the country, Wise fired an opening 63 to lie second. And he’s ended in the top five after round one in two other starts there. Like this week, that course is a Greg Norman design with Paspalum grass so it’s a decent guess that this week’s venue at Vidanta Vallarta will suit him too.
(A strong driver (24th SG: Off The Tee), Wise was 21st at Hilton Head on his last start and tied 17th at Bay Hill where he did his best work in round one. He’s fired in the 60s in 11 of his last 16 opening rounds and let’s back him at 40s to hit the ground running here. “
Dave’s bet: Back Aaron Wise each way @ 41.040/1
Get Steve’s long-odds bets for both of this week’s events starting with a big-hitting American …
Steve says: “A brand new venue makes things tricky for us punters but measuring in at almost 7,500 yards, with wide open fairways and little rough, it looks like a bomber’s paradise and I’m keen to side with the big hitters.
“Peter Uihlein certainly gets it out there from the tee and having won on the Korn Ferry Tour for a second time almost a year ago and having been beaten in a playoff at the Louisiana Open a month ago, he might just be ready to step up and win on the biggest stage of all in a tournament that isn’t that strong. “
Steve’s bet: Back Peter Uihlein @ 160.0159/1
The Greg Norman-designed Vidanta Vallarta course makes its PGA Tour debut on Thursday and Andy Swales has everything you need to know about it as well as the latest form stats …
Andy says: “It’s a new tournament and a first-time venue for the PGA Tour which travels close to Mexico‘s west coast for this week’s event at Vidanta Vallarta.
Designed by Greg Norman and opened six years ago, Vidanta Vallarta offers excellent views of the Sierra Madre mountain range, while its fairways and greens are both sown with Paspalum grass. Fairway width is generous at a venue which has typically undulating Greg Norman-crafted greens.
“Water is certainly a major issuecoming into play on as many as 14 holes – thanks to numerous large hazards …
“Abraham Ancer will be motivated to win on home soil this week. The Mexican made his PGA Tour breakthrough last summer and is primed to claim his second title on Sunday despite a low-key start to 2022. “
Andy’s Player to Watch: Abraham Ancer @ 24.023/1
Steve Rawlings provides his in-depth preview for Catalonia and makes the case for backing an in-form Spaniard …
Steve says: “The weather disrupted last week’s ISPS Handa Championship in Spain with lengthy delays on Thursday and Saturday so some were inconvenienced but I’d still consider playing last week and having the opportunity to knock off a bit of rust as a plus.
“Brian Davis hasn’t got a very good record at Wentworth but the other three DP World Tour event course winners, Bjorn, Levet and Jimenez all have. I’d also consider form at Crans (home of the European Masters) and Valderrama to be worthwhile too …
“It’s impossible to ignore the claims of Adrian Otaegui. His current form figures read an impressive 3-42-34-5-2, he’s finished fifth and first at Q-School here in 2014 and 2015 and he’s telegraphed previous DP World Tour victories with strong incoming form.
When he won the first of his three titles – the Paul Lawrie Match Play – he did so after a fifth placed finish in the European Open and he won his second title – the Belgian Knockout – after finishing second in the China Open in his penultimate start . He did absolutely nothing wrong on Sunday except bump into Pablo on a good day and he could well contend again. “
Steve’s bet: Back Adrian Otaegui @ 32.031/1
Matt Cooper has three selections for the Catalunya Championship with the Betfair Sportsbook paying seven places …
Matt says: “Back when Catalunya was the host of that Final Stage of Q School, Finland’s Mikko Korhonen developed a very handy knack for negotiating the two courses and the Stadium layout in particular.
“In 2010 he spent the last three rounds in the top four before finishing third and two years later he spent rounds two to five in the same position before ending the week in a tie for ninth.
“He was back a year later and got a card yet again, was T15th in the Open de Espana a few months later, and then won 2014 Q School, when spending each of the last four rounds in the top four.
“That’s a lot of good golf at the resort, plenty of it on the Stadium Course, and he returns this week with his form of brewing nicely.”
Matt’s bet: Back Mikko Korhonen each-way @ 41.040/1
Andy Swales provides the lowdown on the course, the key player stats and picks his ones to watch at the Catalan Championship 2022 …
Andy says: “The undulating Stadium Course is a parkland venue with heavily tree-lined fairways and is spectacularly overlooked by the Pyrenees’ mountain range. Water comes into play on five holes.
“Since staging its third Spanish Open eight years ago, the Stadium Course has undergone a € 1m upgrade to prepare for this week’s tournament.
“PGA Catalunya, which is a 36-hole golf resort, also hosted nine consecutive European Tour Qualifying School events between 2008 and 2016, when venue’s two courses shared duties …”
“Pablo Larrazabal has made a stunning start to 2022, with five top-six finishes on the Tour, including a brace of wins. One of these victories came on Sunday in the ISPS Handa Championship of Spain. He started the year 362 in the world and is now up to 68. “
Andy’s Player to Watch: Pablo Larrazabal @ 27.026/1