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DFS Dish: Mexico Open at Vidanta

Gary Woodland

Gary Woodland

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Network

Vidanta Villarta preps for a second edition of the Mexico Open with Jon Rahm winning the inaugural run.

The World No. 1 is back this week to defend his crown and Tony Finau also headlines the field in terms of star power.

For DFS rosters, those are no-brainer picks if you can squeeze in their salary but that may not be an easy task.

So, let’s have a look at some historical data to see what golfers might like the par-71 layout that stretches out past 7,400 yards.

Long Course Crushers

We’ve only had one year of this course hosting the event but golfers made it very clear that length is a big deal here.

“It’s a long golf course, it has some length, but really the defense here this week is going to be wind.” -Patrick Reed

“You’re going to have to hit your mid to long irons pretty good. This golf course is very long, it could be one of the longest golf courses we play on the PGA Tour and you’re definitely going to have some long irons coming to the greens.” -Camilo Villegas

Here are the top performers in adjusted strokes gained per round on long courses, over the last two years:

Jon Rahm
Tony Finau
Alex Noren
Maverick McNealy
Aaron Rai
Gary Woodland
Satoshi Kodaira
Patrick Rodgers
Carl Yuan
David Lipsky
Kevin Streelman
Martin Laird
Emiliano Grillo
Alex Smalley
Doc Redman

We can also look at performance versus baseline to see who shows the largest increase in performance compared to their typical scores:

Kyle Westmoreland
Tyson Alexander
Satoshi Kodaira
Martin Trainer
Kevin Chappell
Cameron Champ
Doc Redman
Harry Higgs
Aaron Baddeley
Jonathan Byrd
Ryan Armour
Dylan Frittelli
Brandon Wu
Scott Piercy
Aaron Rai

Overlap List: names that show up on both lists include Aaron Rai, Satoshi Kodaira, and Doc Redman.

Kodaira uses his accuracy to keep up on long courses. He’s actually twirled top 20s in five of his last eight events played on beefy layouts.

Woodland with the length to contend

The Kansas Jayhawk has a trio of top 15s this season but his ball-striking stats suggest he should have even more big finishes on his 2023 resume. He ranks 13th on TOUR in strokes gained off-the-tee and 23rd on approach. Ranking 4th in approach proximity from outside of 200 yards should be particularly useful on this lengthy layout. He has the striking stats to content at Vidanta Villarta and the resort-style greens may be the relief he needs in the short-game department to get back into the winner’s circle.

Converging trends point to a fast start for Rai

The Englishman flew out the gate with a 65 to find himself T7 after round one of the 2022 Mexico Open. He gained 8.2 strokes over the field in the first three rounds before giving 2.4 shots back on Sunday. Speaking of fast starts, he was just the first-round leader at the RBC Heritage, his most recent stroke-play event. Similar to Kodaira above, Rai uses his precision to keep up on lengthy layouts. His ability to stay in position off the tee helps him avoid big numbers and the receptive greens should still allow him to attack with mid irons.