Steve Palmer’s Mexico Open third-round preview, best bets, free golf tips | Sport News

Michael Reaves

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Jon Rahm is two shots ahead at Vidanta Vallarta

Jon Rahm is two shots ahead at Vidanta Vallarta

Michael Reaves

Where to watch

Sky Sports Golf, 1.30pm Saturday

Best bets

Jon Rahm to win 6.05pm threeball
2pts 4-5 general

Alvaro Ortiz to win 4.15pm threeball
1pt 3-1 general

Story so far

Jon Rahm has cemented his position as an emphatic Mexico Open favorite by taking a two-shot lead into the weekend at Vidanta Vallarta. The Spaniard, 5-1 ante-post, has become a general 4-5 chance in the low-grade PGA Tour event.

Rahm, who has won only one tournament in the last 20 months, was the only member of the elite to enter the Mexico Open. He is clearly keen to end his victory drought – and rounds of 64 and 66 have set up a golden opportunity.

The world number two is scheduled to tee off at 6.05pm UK and Ireland time on Saturday in round three, with Alex Smalley and Adam Long for company. Smalley is alone in second place, with Long among a group of six which includes former Masters champion Patrick Reed.

Leaderboard
-12 Jon Rahm
-10 Alex Smalley
-9 Adam Long, Andrew Novak, Cameron Champ, Patrick Reed, Trey Mullinax, Brandon Hagy
-8 Scott Brown, Kurt Kitayama, Aaron Rai, Davis Riley, Jonathan Byrd, Hank Lebioda

Best prices
4-5 J Rahm, 12 P Reed, 14 A Smalley, C Champ, 18 A Long, 28 A Rai, A Novak, 33 D Riley, S Munoz, T Mullinax, 40 B Hagy, 50 bar

Third-round preview

Many punters may be drifting away from Mexico Open with the ante-post hotpot going clear, but there is still a lot of golf to be played at Vidanta Vallarta and it is too early to be assuming Jon Rahm will be lifting the trophy on Sunday evening.

Rahm will be looking to put the pedal down with a Saturday sizzler as at least half of his round is set to be played in calm conditions. He may encounter some moderate breeze on the back nine, but a 12.05pm local-time starting stall is fortunately early in the day for the leader.

Sunday will probably provide the greater test for Rahm, with the breeze forecast to arrive earlier, and he will also have some demons to overcome. He is acutely aware of how few trophies he has been picking up lately, so if somebody applies some pressure, the combustible 27-year-old seems likely to feel it.

The return to form this week of Patrick Reed means there is a fellow Major champion for Rahm to worry about, but it may be Cameron Champ, who played alongside Rahm for the first two rounds, who ends up the greatest threat to the odds-on favorites.

Champ, aside from a pushed drive into the water at the tenth hole, impressed in round two and is looking back to his old self after a wrist injury. The three-time PGA Tour champion – three shots behind in a share of third place – has the tools to topple Rahm. Champ was three under par for his final five holes of round two, setting the powerhouse up for a strong weekend.

Davis Riley, three under par for his final four holes of round two, also seems a dangerman from four shots off the pace. Champ (14-1), Riley (33-1) and Reed (12-1) may emerge from the final few groups to get into Rahm’s rear-view mirror – how the moody Spaniard reacts to these threats will be key to how the tournament unfolds.

Third-round threeball punters are pointed towards Rahm and Alvaro Ortiz (4.15pm). Rahm can be fancied to outclass Alex Smalley and Adam Long in the final group, while Mexican youngster Ortiz can use home comforts to upset David Lipsky and Brice Garnett.

Ortiz, the younger brother of PGA Tour champion Carlos, knows Vidanta Vallarta well and is desperate to make the most of this opportunity. The 26-year-old, 2019 Latin America Amateur champion, won the Mexico Open on the PGA Tour Latinamerica circuit last year. The Ortiz brothers relish competition in their homeland.


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FIRST PUBLISHED 9:22 AM, APR 30 2022

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