The PGA TOUR's Mike Glasscott previews the World Wide Technology Championship with Ludvig Aberg and Cameron Young top of the board.
The final pit stop of the FedExCup Fall is over, and the sprint to the finish begins again in earnest this week at El Cardonal at Diamante in Los Cabos, Mexico.
The World Wide Technology Championship begins a three-week race to close the 2022-23 season that will determine who will secure a 2024 PGA TOUR card and spots in early-year Signature Events via The Next 10.
After a week off following the travel to Japan, all batteries must be recharged, and all games fine-tuned as a field of 132 arrive on the Baja Peninsula.
The additional test this week includes a brand-new venue on the schedule.
The Par-72, 7,452 yards of El Cardonal, designed by Tiger Woods, enters the spotlight for the first time. The mystery of this resort course, established and opened for business in 2014, will be solved quickly, but few will have seen or played it before this week.
The 36-hole cut returns with a full-field event. Only five of the top 50 players in the OWGR entered this week, but nine of the 10 players ranked Nos. 51 through 60 in the FedExCup Fall are here and jockeying for position.
On the line is a purse of $8.2 million with the winner earning $1.475 million plus 500 FedExCup points.
Top of the Board:
After his fantastic debut at the Ryder Cup at the end of September, Ludvig Aberg (9/1) could have sat back, relaxed, and started mapping out plans for 2024. Already a winner on the DP World Tour, that wasn’t enough for the Swedish sensation. Back to the PGA TOUR he went. Forcing and falling in a playoff at Sanderson Farms would have been enough for some. Closing with 62 in Round 4 in Las Vegas the following week would have punctuated a great fall. Nope, he’s back again.
No doubt Cameron Young (12/1) felt the disappointment of not being picked by Captain Johnson for the Ryder Cup team. After ten weeks away from competition, I’m interested to see if there is a message to be delivered, a la Adrian Meronk in Spain two weeks ago. Wide open off the tee and big targets upon arrival into the Paspalum greens, this week should be a fantastic launching pad back into competition.
Now that Sahith Theegala (14/1) has answered THE QUESTION, he can flash his big smile and hot putter and carry on. After T19 at ZOZO, his streak is now four straight paydays inside the top 20. His ability to hole putts and scramble (Top 25 in Strokes Gained in both categories) will see him continue his streak this week.
Cashing in the top 30 in eight of his last nine, it’s hardly a surprise Beau Hossler (25/1) registers this week. Toss in T2 at ZOZO and T7, including his second 62 in 15 rounds in Las Vegas, and the heat is the hottest it has been since… the last time he was in Mexico (3rd-T10) five months ago.
Stephan Jaeger (28/1) makes his 125th start on the PGA TOUR and is still looking for his first podium finish. This time of the year, everyone has something to play for, and he’s not the exception. Sitting No. 58 in the FedExCup standings, he’s looking to lock up a spot in the top 10 of the FedExCup Fall. With no rough this week at El Cardonal, he should add to his four-career top-10 paydays.
Producing five top-10 pay checks in six events, including back-to-back wins, Lucas Glover (30/1) was the talk of the TOUR as the regular season ended and the FedExCup Playoffs began. After T20 and T22 in the final two FedExCup Playoff events, Glover’s summer heat wave did not result in a trip to Rome. Instead, he took the last ten weeks off from competition. Returning this week, he will need that summer putter to follow him if he’s going to contend.
I’m finishing my list this week with Emiliano Grillo (30/1). Over the last eight years, few have been more consistent on Paspalum than the Argentine. Over 14 non-major events on this coastal surface, he’s graced the top 15 eight times. Securing his eighth top-10 payday in 13 months at ZOZO, I’m riding the form plus the past Paspalum production.
Resort golf, Tiger Woods style!
Paspalum covers the entire property, and there is no rough. Big fairways and greens provide plenty to aim at, but the pins will not be in the middle.
Power ball strikers will be greeted with better angles and more lofted clubs attacking greens. Super putters will enjoy perfect speeds on the putting surfaces.
With four par-5 holes and a forecast of light winds, along with only one water hazard, the winning total should easily surpass 20 under.
|T33||Zac Blair, Kevin Yu|
The par-5s will present four scoring chances to help pad the card. The course opens with 582 yards at No. 1 and closes with 585 yards at No. 18. The meatiest of the bunch will be No. 6 at 601 yards. Tiger Woods made a living eviscerating the par-5s, and the winner this week will do the same.
With fairways as wide as football fields and greens to match, only the breeze will slow down the birdies and eagles this week. As of this writing, the breeze appears to be on vacation for the four days of the tournament. Time to attack flags, hole putts, and go low.
Finding Brandon Wu (70/1) in Mexico is as easy as looking at the podium. In the last two years at Vidanta, he’s shared second and ran third to the tune of 35-under par. Only Jon Rahm and Tony Finau have been better on the Pacific Coast. Add another pair of top-10 pay checks in Puerto Rico, and I can’t look away!
Harry Hall (100/1) has produced three of his four best finishes on Paspalum this season. Beginning at Puerto Rico with T7, he added T13 at Corales Puntacana before cashing in his last visit to Mexico at Vidanta.
Twice a winner on Paspalum in Malaysia, Ryan Moore (200/1) snuck into the top 15 in his last start in Las Vegas (T13).
Brice Garnett (300/1) has made a career of pinging top-10 paydays on this surface. A former winner at Corales Puntacana, he has signed for three top 10s in Puerto Rico as well.