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Monday, 18 February 2019
Francesco Molinari R2D winner  (Getty Images)
Francesco Molinari R2D winner (Getty Images)

Ahead of the first World Golf Championship of the season, we bring you five storylines to look out for in Mexico this week.

New ground for Tiger

When it comes to World Golf Championships Tiger Woods has done it all – almost. Woods has won a remarkable 18 world titles, 13 more than any other player. The 43 year old has triumphed in three of the four categories of WGCs – aside from the WGC-HSBC Champions – and has enjoyed most of his success at Firestone Country Club with eight titles, and in this event, which he has won seven times.

Woods is yet to triumph at Chapultepec Golf Club though, which has played host to the last two editions of this tournament, and all signs suggest that Woods is well-placed to challenge in Mexico.

With less of a demand off the tee – players have hit fewer than ten drives on average over the last two years in Naucalpan – there is more of an emphasis on approach play, an area that Woods is excelling in so far this year (he gained +4.26 and +1.96 strokes on the field in the Farmers Insurance Open and the Genesis Open respectively during his two starts in 2019).

Woods

Molinari kicks off defence

Reigning Race to Dubai champion Francesco Molinari makes his long-awaited return to tournament golf this week.

After a career-best year which saw the Italian win his first Major Championship, his first Rolex Series title and become the first European player to win a maximum five points in a Ryder Cup, it will be a tough act to follow for Molinari.

But given the consistency and quality of his all-round game last year, we predict Chicco will be back at the very top in 2019 – starting this week in Mexico. 

Molinari

Thomas’s unfinished business

It is safe to say that Justin Thomas loves Mexico. During his two appearances in this event he has finished no lower than tied fifth, and last year he narrowly lost out to eventual champion Phil Mickelson in a play-off.

The American also holds the course record at Chapultepec Golf Club after his third round of 62 last year, and the 25 year old has the lowest scoring average of any player over the past two seasons in Mexico, which is 67.63.

Having finished now lower than tied 16 in 2019, Thomas is another player to look out for this week. 

Phenomenal Finau

Since 2016 no one has performed as consistently in WGCs as Tony Finau. In the 16 rounds he has played in WGCs the American boasts a scoring average of 69.38, lower than anyone else, with two top ten finishes – most notably a runner-up berth at the WGC-HSBC Champions. 

Having recorded top ten finishes in the Masters Tournament, the Open Championship, the U.S. Open Championship and two WGCs last year, Finau has proved he is one of the game’s elite players who is trending towards a victory at the very highest level.

Finau

Hatton’s clean sheet

Not only did Tyrell Hatton mount a serious challenge for a first WGC victory in Mexico last year – he fell one shot short of making it into a play-off – but he also set his own record at Chapultepec Golf Club.

In the two editions of the WGC-Mexico Championship, Hatton is the only player who has completed eight rounds without making a three-putt.

Should he keep that record in tact this week, expect to see Hatton at the summit of the leaderboard again.

Hatton

 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1JOHNSON, DustinUSA18-21
2MCILROY, RoryNIR18-16
T3CASEY, PaulENG18-11
T3APHIBARNRAT, KiradechTHA18-11
T3POULTER, IanENG18-11
T6CANTLAY, PatrickUSA18-10

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