Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffle produced a wire-to-wire victory to claim the Zurich Classic and now the tour heads to a brand new event.

This week’s stop at Vidanta Vallarta for the 2022 Mexico Open will provide golf bettors a first-look course that stretches beyond 7,400 yards and plays as a Par-71.

Jon Rahm (+450) arrives as the pre-tournament favorite while Mexico native Abraham Ancer comes next at +1600 on the odds board. Tony Finau (+2000) is the only other top-25 player who will tee it up in Mexico.

Before we dive into plays for the week, I’ll begin by breaking down my modeling strategy for the event. Although there’s some guessing to be done without course history to draw from, here are the factors I believe will lead to success this week.

Modeling Stat #1 – Driving Distance (22 percent emphasis)

Although the reports from Vidanta Vallarta are that poor drives won’t be punished as severely, the course length renders driving quite important this week.

That’s why I’m prepared to make driving the most important category on a course that features at least two 600+ yard Par 5’s and (could) see a few Par 4’s that extend to between 475 and 500 yards. So, although players won’t need to be hyper-accurate, an ability to launch balls far will likely come in handy.

Further, there are some shorter Par 4’s where distance off the tee could leaves players with short approaches. Although I’m not sure if this week will prove a birdie-fest, that could prove decisive in winning.

Here are the driving distance leaders across the last 36 rounds as well as their betting odds for the week:

  1. Cameron Champ (+5000)
  2. Joseph Bramlett (+12500)
  3. Trey Mullinax (+25000)
  4. Wyndham Clark (+8000)
  5. Peter Uihlein (+15000)

Check out the best sports betting sites and apps

Modeling Stat #2 – Strokes-Gained: Approach (21 percent emphasis)

Vidanta Vallarta qualifies itself as a coastal setup that is simultaneously littered with bunkers — a staple of course designer Greg Norman — so accurate approaches will also be key.

Look at other coastal courses on the PGA Tour swing — sites like Harbour Town Golf Links, Sea Island Golf Club and Pebble Beach — and it can be assumed accurate approaches are needed here as well. For reference, the winners at those aforementioned courses all ranked inside the top-10 in SG: approach for the week.

Add in the extra element of the sand traps (Vidanta Vallarta has north of 100 total bunkers on the course) and I rate this equally as important as driving distance.

Here are the 36-round leaders for SG: approach as well as their betting odds for the week:

  1. Russell Knox (+5000)
  2. Luke Donald (+20000)
  3. Tony Finau (+2000)
  4. Jon Rahm (+450)
  5. Gary Woodland (+2200)
Jon Rahm
Getty Images

Modeling Stat #3 – Opportunities Gained (20 percent emphasis)

As I mentioned earlier, I’m unsure whether this course will show its teeth or succumb to a high-scoring winner.

Either way, players who have previously demonstrated an ability to create scoring chances should find themselves in contention Sunday. It’s also worth noting that in the other PGA Tour event held in Mexico — the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba — four straight winners have reached 20-under par.

Although that course sets up 400 yards shorter than Vidanta Vallarta, that could prove a good indicator of how the course will set up this week. Players earning opportunities to score will naturally have an edge over the field, hence the strong emphasis here.

The following players lead the field in opportunities gained across the last 36 rounds (betting odds in parentheses):

  1. Jon Rahm (+450)
  2. Aaron Rai (+5000)
  3. Jason Dufner (+25000)
  4. Chris Kirk (+3300)
  5. Nate Lashley (+10000)

The BetMGM Logo

Claim a Risk-Free First Bet up to $1,000

New customers only. Must be 21+. AZ, CO, IA, IL, IN, LA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY only. Full T&C apply.

Caesars Sportsbook Logo Square

Get up to $1100 in first bet insurance

New users only, 21 or older. NY, CO, DC, IA, IN, IL, MI, NV, NJ, PA, TN, VA, WV only. Full T&Cs apply.

The WynnBet Logo

Bet $10 Get $200 in Free Bets

21+. New customers only. NY, AZ, CO, CT, IA, IL, IN, MI, NJ, PA, TN, VA, WV only. T&C apply

The PointsBet Logo

Get two Risk-Free Bets up to $2,000

New players only, 21 or older. Available in CO, IA, IL, IN, MI, NJ, NY, PA, VA, WV only. Full T&C apply.

The BetRivers Logo

100% First Deposit Match up to $250 with promo code NYPBONUS

New players only, 21+. NY, NJ, MI, AZ, VA only. In order to participate in this promotion, the player needs to make a first deposit (of at least $10). Full T&C apply.

FanDuel Logo Square

Claim a $1,000 Risk-Free Bet

21+. New customers only. NY, AZ, CO, CT, IA, IL, IN, MI, NJ, PA, TN, VA, WV only. T&C apply

Modeling Stat #4 – Bogey Avoidance (19 percent emphasis)

According to the course description, the putting surfaces here are described as “large undulating greens.”

We know players will (likely) see a lot of chances at birdie, but that description leads me to seek out players that can avoid mistakes in a potential high-scoring event. Add in these green sizes are (at least) in line with the tour average and it’s my educated guess we won’t see a high number of bogeys from players in contention.

For reference, the last three winners at Mayakoba saw bogey or worse on under 10 percent of all 72 holes. Here are the leaders in bogey avoidance across the last 36 rounds as well as their betting odds this week:

  1. Ryan Armour (+12500)
  2. Jon Rahm (+450)
  3. Mark Hubbard (+6600)
  4. Jonathan Byrd (+30000)
  5. Gary Woodland (+2200)
Gary Woodland
Gary Woodland
PGA TOUR via Getty Images

Modeling Stat #5 – Proximity: 175 to 200 Yards (18 percent emphasis)

Considering the length of the course this week, players will need to be accurate with mid- to long-irons in order to create birdie chances.

And, although we don’t have data in terms of approach distance percentage at this specific event, other courses of like distance see a plurality of approach shots come from this range. For that reason, I want to see my model include players that are strong from long-range.

That said, I don’t think this is the most important category for the week — consider it more of a specific add-on to SG: approach — so it will not be receiving a ton of emphasis. That said, here are the leaders in this category across the last 36 rounds with betting odds for the week:

  1. Jason Dufner (+25000)
  2. Robert Garrigus (+35000)
  3. Kiradech Aphibarnrat (+20000)
  4. Sebastian Munoz (+3300)
  5. Austin Smotherman (+12500)