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PGA DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: Mexico Open (2023)

PGA DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: Mexico Open (2023)

The PGA Tour will return to its standard stroke play scoring format ahead of the second edition of the Mexico Open at Vidanta this week. Defending champion and current World No. 1 Jon Rahm will return to attempt his title defense against a lighter field that we’ve seen in recent events, featuring Tony Finau and Wyndham Clark as the most prominent golfers excluding the 28-year-old Spaniard.

From a DFS standpoint, we have a lot of value to acquire on the Mexico Open slate, as there are dozens of golfers available at a low salary that may be flying under the radar due to recent finishes. Birdies are the most valuable currency in PGA DFS contests, as they are weighted six times more valuable than a par, while bogeys aren’t a hindrance as long as players can bounce back on the next hole. Last year, Rahm held off Finau’s -8-under-par surge in the final round to win by one stroke at -17-under-par. It’s wild to look back on this event as Rahm’s only outright win in 2022 since he has four outrights in 2023, including his most recent win at The Masters, earning his first Green Jacket at the opening major of the PGA Tour season. Davis Riley, who just dropped out of this year’s Mexico Open, won the Zurich Classic last week with teammate Nick Hardy. This opens up opportunities for other golfers at this event, as Riley wound up logging a fifth-place finish at Vidanta in 2022.

Let’s look at some relevant betting stats and get into the course overview before jumping into six of my favorite prospects to target when constructing lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel. As always, best 0f luck, and let’s cash some contests!

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Previous Winners

  • 2022 – Jon Rahm (-17)

Relevant Betting Stats

  • Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee
  • Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green
  • Driving Distance
  • Greens in Regulation percentage
  • Strokes Gained Putting
  • Sand Save percentage

Course Overview

Situated along the Western coastline of Mexico, Vidanta Vallarta is a course designed by Greg Norman that opened up back in 2015 but just became a PGA Tour event in 2022. Vidanta is a par 71 that runs north of 7,400 yards in length, and it features a unique layout, featuring four par 5s and five par 3s, including three of the par 5s on the back nine. In addition, over 100 sand bunkers punish errant approach shots and tee shots alike, while the occasional water hazard does appear.

Paspalum greens are a unique putting surface for players to acclimate to during this event, measuring up to 12 feet in velocity via the Stimpmeter. It’s on the slower side of putting surfaces seen across PGA Tour courses, but the rough is trimmed to two inches, which is more than manageable. Greens in regulation should occur frequently based on how last year’s players fared at Vidanta due to its extended surface area size compared to recent courses such as Augusta National and Harbour Town. Weather should remain warm and cooperate with dry conditions, giving players ample opportunity to get a feel for the course to wind up with plenty of red on their scorecards by the end of the weekend.

Recommended Plays: DraftKings

DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000

Tony Finau: $10,700
We’re paying an insane number to get Jon Rahm into DraftKings lineups at $12,000, so instead, let’s save a few dollars and pivot to Tony Finau. Finau is a great commodity to roster at Vidanta this weekend, as he’s averaging 83.4 FPPG this season, including four T10s and nine T25s through only 12 events. In addition, his iron play is exceptional, ranking fourth in total strokes gained, including first in strokes gained approaching the green, and 24th in total driving. As a result, Finau should be locked into DFS lineups of all shapes and sizes ahead of Thursday’s opening tee times.

Maverick McNealy: $9,400
Maverick McNealy’s most recent outing resulted in a missed cut, so we’re landing good value on his reduced $9,400 salary. McNealy has been far from reliable, but he has an enticing upside. He’s ranked first in strokes gained putting and performs nicely with irons from 75-100 yards and 200-225 yards out. McNealy struggles to hit greens in regulation, but he’s ranked 11th in scrambling, so with the extended surface area of the paspalum greens, I expect McNealy to return to form to log his fourth T10 finish of the season. This is a risky pick, but the payoff is worth it, so let’s push our chips in on McNealy this week.

Stephan Jaeger: $8,200
We’re digging into the value bin here with Stephan Jaeger. The 33-year-old German has only one T10 finish this season, but he’s ranked fourth in consecutive greens in regulation, 11th in Round 1 scoring average, and 14th in strokes gained around the green. He’s a unique player, but his skill set aligns with the challenges of Vidanta, as he ranks 44th in strokes gained tee-to-green and 59th off-the-tee. Jaeger is a solid salary-saving prospect at $8.2K on DraftKings, especially since he logged a T15 finish at Vidanta in 2022.

Recommended Plays: FanDuel

FanDuel maximum salary is set at $60,000

Byeong Hun An: $11,100
The last time Byeong Hun An was out on the links, he logged a T6 finish at Valero. Now, a month later, the 31-year-old South Korean should have plenty of rest to make his presence felt during his debut at Vidanta. An is ranked first in strokes gained around the green, 34th in tee-to-green, and eighth in driving distance. An struggles to find greens in regulation, but he’s a solid scrambler, plus he’s averaging 64.8 FPPG on FanDuel, rattling off two T25 finishes in his past five events played. Admittedly, it’s a bit pricier than normal due to the lighter field of 144 players this week, but I like An to be an asset in lineups throughout the weekend.

Chez Reavie: $9,400
Chez Reavie has been heating up in recent events, logging T11 and T6 finishes at RBC Heritage and Valero while he returns to Vidanta to replicate his T13 (-11), finish from a year ago. The 41-year-old American has a powerful, accurate driver, converting nearly 67 percent of greens in regulation. In addition, Reavie is among the best at finding the fairway off the tee while ranking 18th in approach shots from 175-200 yards. Reavie tends to start slow, but as long as he makes the cut, he saves his best stuff for last, ranking 13th in final round scoring average (68.5), so this is a patient prospect to add at a nice discount.

Harry Higgs: $8,600
Harry Higgs is a considerable value at Vidanta this week. While he’s only made eight of 14 cuts this season, Higgs has been better during his last two events, going T38 and T28 at Corales and Valero while ranking 75th in strokes gained around the green and 25th in strokes gained putting. Higgs does tend to struggle with his irons, but he compensates for that weakness with an excellent short game while finding greens in regulation 66.5 percent of the time. Since his putting is solid and consistent, Higgs ranks 38th with a 4.05 birdie average, which is enough to sell me on his floor in lineups during his debut at Vidanta on Thursday.

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Whether you’re new to daily fantasy golf or a seasoned professional, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Golf Glossary. You can get started with The Stats That Matter Most or head to a more advanced strategy — like How To Use Vegas Odds To Generate Your Lineup  — to learn more.

Matthew MacKay is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.

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