Players head to Chapultepec Golf Club as Dustin Johnson defends at the first World Golf Championship of 2020. Here are five things to know ahead of this week’s WGC-Mexico Championship
The WGC-Mexico Championship is the first of the four World Golf Championships event on the 2020 Race to Dubai. The field comprises of 72 of the world’s best players from around the globe, vying for a prize fund of US $10.5million.
The WGC-Mexico Championship is followed by the WGC-Dell Match Play in Austin, Texas next month, with the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational taking place in Memphis, Tennessee in July. The final of the four events is the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International GC in Shanghai, China.
Former World Number One Dustin Johnson is back to defend his title. Should he successfully defend, he would become only the second player in World Golf Championships history to achieve this feat, following Tiger Woods who has successfully defended WGC titles on eight occasions.
Last year, Johnson held off a final-round challenge from current World Number One Rory McIlroy, carding a final round of 66 to finish five strokes ahead of the Northern Irishman.
The victory was his sixth World Golf Championship title, second on the all-time list behind Woods, who has 18 victories across these four events.
Debutants assemble en-masse
Of the 37 European Tour members competing this week, 11 of them are playing the WGC-Mexico Championship for the first time.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Justin Harding, Benjamin Hebert,Lucas Herbert, Marcus Kinhult, Kurt Kitayama, Zander Lombard, Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Robert MacIntyre, Victor Perez and Mattias Schwab will make their first appearances in this event. Of those 11, Herbert and Kinhult are making their World Golf Championships debuts.
McIlroy hoping to make his mark in Mexico
After the final putt drops in Mexico, McIlroy will tie Nick Faldo for weeks spent at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking. McIlroy will enjoy his 97th week as World Number One next week, joining Faldo in joint-third place on the all-time list. Only Tiger Woods (683) and Greg Norman (331) have spent more weeks at the top of the OWGR.
But McIlroy will have his eyes on more silverware this week at Chapultepec GC, bidding to become the third player to win consecutive World Golf Championships titles following his victory at the 2019 WGC-HSBC Champions four months ago.
In his last 12 world-wide appearances, McIlroy has two victories, a runner-up finish, two thirds, two fourths and a fifth, and has finished outside the top 20 at an event just once.
An historic venue
Chapultepec Golf Club, located just outside Mexico City, was established almost a century ago - its doors first opening in 1921.
Scotsman Willie Smith, who won the U.S. Open Championship in 1899, moved to the Mexico to become a club professional at the Country Club of Mexico City. He was asked to design a new course, but died before it could be completed. His brother, and two-time U.S. Open Champion Alex Smith completed the course in 1921 and it was renovated by Percy Clifford in 1972. It has hosted the WGC-Mexico Championship since 2017 and the Mexican Open 18 times, most recently in 2014.
The course is almost 8,000 feet above sea level, resulting in much further ball flights.