Defending champion Dustin Johnson is the British bookmakers' clear-cut favourite to win the season's opening World Golf Championship event, the WGC-Mexico Championship, at Mexico City's high-altitude Club de Golf Chapultepec this week.
On Tuesday morning Johnson, who this week will have worn the World No 1 crown for a full year following his capture of this Championship in 2017, topped the bookies' list at 6/1.
He was closely followed by last week's Honda Classic winner and new World No 3 Justin Thomas at 8/1, big Jon Rahm, the World No 2, and Jordan Spieth, the World No 4, at 12/1 and England's reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood and, somewhat unexpectedly, Rickie Fowler, who missed the cut at PGA National last week, at 18/1.
In a field that is usually close in quality and strength to a major, it's a little surprising to note that five qualifiers, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson, have not included this important, 65-man championship with no cuts in their schedule ahead of the Masters in just over a month's time.
But getting back to Johnson, he is not the favourite of everyone - not so much because his great power off the tee will be less important at Chapultepec where its altitude of 7,500 feet above sea level and the 'thinner air' up there will have the effect of reducing it's 7,345-yard layout to an adjusted 6 700 yards (making it one of the shortest courses on the PGA Tour this year) nor, so much, because, like so many California courses, it's greens are turfed with poa annuh.
Johnson, showing that there is a lot more to his game than sheer power, took all of this in his (long) stride last year during the PGA Tour's debut at Chapultepec and contended brilliantly on a tree-lined venue many see as having exceptional risk and reward qualities.
No, if fantasy golf tipsters like Rob Bolton of pgatour.com only sees Johnson as his third choice, it's more than likely because the big man from South Carolina hasn't been looking quite as hot in the past month or so as have men like Bolton's top two choices.
His first is Thomas, the 24-year-old Kentucky young gun who, with last week's win, showed that he has regained much of the momentum that swept him to five PGA Tour triumphs last year, including one in the final major, and earned him the Player of the Year Award.
Bolton's second choice, a little surprisingly, is Alex Noren, a Swedish newcomer to the US Tour who only missed last week's playoff by a stroke and already lies seventh on Tour in strokes gained; putting, second in adjusted scoring and tied for 4th in par-5 scoring.
Other European golfers who could give the Americans a run for their money in this multi-international-tour event is...
- Fleetwood, who was 4th last week in the Honda Classic and was last year's runner-up to Johnson at Chapultepec.
- Justin Rose, the winner of the WGC's 4th and final event in China last year and who subsequently won in Turkey and Indonesia...
- Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who is a much better golfer than he looked in finishing 33rd last week, especially when he gets his putter working, and...
-England's Paul Casey who, for the past couple of years, has so often been there and about without winning and might just be ready to do it this time.
Belgium's Thomas Pieters and Englishmen Tyrrell Hatton and 'comeback kid' Ross Fisher might also be ready to win again as might two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, who for too long was one of the invisible men of US golf until his recent win at Riviera put his name back up in lights ahead of this year's Masters.
Looking at the tour veterans brings the seemingly-ageless. 47-year-old Phil Mickelson to mind.
Hotter this season than he has been in years, the multi-major winner finished in ties for 5th, 2nd and 6th on the West Coast swing, and remember he'll be back on the poa annuh greens he understands and so enjoys and wielding his trusty wedge on a track where staying on the shortest grass is not always easy.
Little-known upstarts? Even in elite WGC events, there are always some and this time it might just be the tall, young South African, Dylan Frittelli.
Frittelli, fresh from the European Tour, utilised his sponsor's exemption at The Honda Classic to grab an 11th-place finish and together with his other nine top 20s in his last 12 starts worldwide, it helped him seal his place in the Chapultepec field.
The weather? It shouldn't make much of a difference. It will be partly cloudy on the first two days, but for the most part it will be sunny and mild with no more than a gentle breeze so form, sheer skill, grit and determination should be the key factors this week in deciding which of the plethora of stars in the elite field comes out on top.
(Tuesday a.m. Feb 27, 2018)
Dustin Johnson 6/1
Justin Thomas 8/1
Jon Rahm 12/1
Jordan Spieth 12/1
Tommy Fleetwood 18/1
Rickie Fowler 18/1
Justin Rose 20/1
Phil Mickelson 20/1
Alex Noren 25/1
Sergio Garcia 28/1
Paul Casey 30/1
Patrick Cantlay 33/1
Bubba Watson 35/1
Thomas Pieters 40/1
Tony Finau 45/1
Tyrrell Hatton 45/1
Ross Fisher 50/1
Webb Simpson 50/1
Xander Schauffele 55/1
Marc Leishman 55/1
Chez Reavie 60/1
Brian Harman 60/1
Dylan Frittelli 60/1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 60/1
Gary Woodland 60/1
Daniel Berger 60/1
Branden Grace 66/1
Matt Kuchar 66/1
Kevin Chappell 66/1.
NOTE: For all the latest odds, go to www.oddschecker.com/golf/wgc-mexico-championship/winner.
For betting odds visit BetWay.
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