2017 WGC-Mexico Championship R3 Notes

587
Justin Thomas

Third-Round Notes – Saturday, March 4, 2017

 

Weather: Partly cloudy, with a high of 73. Wind E at 5-10 mph.

 

Third-Round Leaderboard

1          Justin Thomas            69-66-66—201 (-12)

2          Dustin Johnson           70-66-66—202 (-11)

T3        Rory McIlroy                68-65-70—203 (-10)

T3        Phil Mickelson             67-68-68—203 (-10)

 

Third-Round Leader Stats

Since 1999, the 54-hole leader/co-leader has converted the victory at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship 11 times with the most recent in 2014 (Patrick Reed).

 

Through 15 events on the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season, the 54-hole leader/co-leader has parlayed that lead into victory seven times. Most recently, Rickie Fowler did so at The Honda Classic last week.

 

Justin Thomas, 1st

Already a three-time winner on the PGA TOUR in the 2016-2017 season, Justin Thomas is poised to capture his fourth after rounds of 69-66-66 have him one stroke ahead of Dustin Johnson after the third round.

 

This marks the fifth PGA TOUR 54-hole lead/co-lead for Thomas, who has converted his last three 54-hole leads into victories. He was T2 after 54 holes before winning the 2016 CIMB Classic.

 

54-hole leads/co-leads                                             Result

2015 CareerBuilder Challenge                                T7

2015 CIMB Classic                                                  Win

2017 SBS Tournament of Champions                    Win

2017 Sony Open in Hawaii                                      Win

2017 WGC-Mexico Championship                            –

 

Thomas’ first win of the season came as he defended the CIMB Classic title he claimed in 2015 in Malaysia. He added the SBS Tournament of Champions at Kapalua to his resume before winning the following week at the Sony Open in Hawaii after opening the tournament with an 11-under 59 at the par-70 Waialae CC.

 

With a win on Sunday, Thomas, at age 23 years, 10 months, 5 days, would become the 12th winner under the age of 30 in 16 PGA TOUR events during the 2016-17 season.

 

The highlight of Thomas’ round was a hole-in-one with a 6-iron at the 232-yard, par-3 13th hole. It marked his second ace on the PGA TOUR, following his first at The Greenbrier Classic in 2015. The ace was the 13th on TOUR this season.

 

Thomas’ ace was the 10th in tournament history, with the two most recent occurring on the same hole in the same round in 2015. Dustin Johnson and J.B. Holmes each recorded a hole-in-one at the fourth hole during round three at Doral that year.

 

Thomas was T35 at last year’s Mexico Championship, his only previous appearance in this event. This is Thomas’ sixth start in a World Golf Championships event with a T23 at this season’s HSBC Champions his best showing.

 

Thomas lies 70 points back of leader Hideki Matsuyama (72-72-66—210, T25) in second place in the FedExCup standings.

 

Dustin Johnson, 2nd

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson fired a second consecutive 5-under 66 to head into the final round one stroke behind Justin Thomas. Johnson, who won in his last start with a five-stroke victory at the Genesis Open, is looking to join Tiger Woods as the only player with four or more World Golf Championships victories.

 

With a win Sunday, Johnson would claim his 14th PGA TOUR title at age 32 years, 8 months, 11 days.

 

Johnson is seeking to join Justin Thomas (3) and Hideki Matsuyama (2) as multiple winners on the PGA TOUR this season.

 

Johnson is a three-time World Golf Championships winner with victories at the HSBC Champions (2013), the Mexico Championship (2015) and the Bridgestone Invitational (2016). He joins Tiger Woods (18) and Geoff Ogilvy (3) as one of three players with three or more World Golf Championships victories.

 

With a win this week, Johnson would become the fifth player to win his first PGA TOUR start as world No. 1.

1991 Ian Woosnam                Masters Tournament

1999 David Duval                   BellSouth Classic

2004 Vijay Singh                    RBC Canadian Open

2014 Adam Scott                    DEAN & DELUCA Invitational

 

Johnson (13/2008-present) has at least one win in each of his first ten seasons on the PGA TOUR (the best current streak) and joins Arnold Palmer (17/1955-1971), Jack Nicklaus (17/1962-1978) and Tiger Woods (14/1996-2009) as the only players since 1960 to achieve this feat.

 

Last season, Johnson claimed the Jack Nicklaus Trophy as PGA TOUR Player of the Year. He also took home the Byron Nelson Award for Adjusted Scoring Average (69.172) and the Arnold Palmer Award as the TOUR’s leading money-winner ($9,365,185).

 

Johnson has three top-10 finishes in Mexico Championship tournament history – 2nd/2011, T4/2014 and 1st/2015.

 

Rory McIlroy, T3

Returning from a rib injury and playing for the first time since Jan. 15, Rory McIlroy is in touch with the leaders following rounds of 68-65-70 to be two strokes behind Justin Thomas.

 

The 2016 FedExCup champion and four-time major champion is seeking his third World Golf Championships title having already won the 2014 Bridgestone Invitational and the 2015 Dell Technologies Match Play. McIlroy is trying to join Tiger Woods (18), Dustin Johnson (3) and Geoff Ogilvy (3) as the only players with three or more wins in World Golf Championships events.

 

McIlroy would return to the No. 1 position in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win this week, so long as Dustin Johnson finishes worse than solo 4th. McIlroy would overtake No. 2 Jason Day, absent from this event due to illness, with a two-way tie for 3rd or better.

 

McIlroy finished T3 at last year’s Mexico Championship after holding a three-stroke lead over Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson heading into the final round. He was also third in 2012.

 

McIlroy’s previous seven starts in World Golf Championships events:

Year    Tournament                                                                                 Finish

2016    World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions                            T4

2016    World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play         4

2016    World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship                      T3

2015    World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions                            T11

2015    World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play         1

2015    World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship                      T9

2014    World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions                            T6

2014    World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational                   1

 

McIlroy is looking to pick up where he left off at the end of the 2015-16 PGA TOUR season at last year’s TOUR Championship where he was a part of one of the most dramatic finishes to the season-ending event in recent memory. In a drama-filled final round, McIlroy holed out for eagle from 137 yards on No. 16 to move to 11-under and one stroke behind leader Kevin Chappell. A victory meant McIlroy would take home the FedExCup, while a second-place finish put the FedExCup in Dustin Johnson’s hands. A final-hole birdie in regulation moved him to 12-under and forced a three-way playoff with Chappell and Ryan Moore. With Chappell bowing out of the playoff, Moore and McIlroy required a fourth extra hole, the 16th, where he had holed out earlier in the day. After Moore had saved par with a putt from 17 feet, McIlroy drilled his birdie putt from 15 feet to claim both the TOUR Championship and the FedExCup title for his 13th PGA TOUR win and his 22nd victory worldwide.

 

Phil Mickelson, T3

Phil Mickelson, a two-time World Golf Championships winner (2009 Mexico Championship, HSBC Champions), is in contention for a third after rounds of 67-68-68 which has the 42-time PGA TOUR winner in a tie for third and two shots off the lead through 54 holes. Mickelson birdied 15, 16 and 17 to reach 11-under before a final hole bogey dropped him two strokes back.

 

Mickelson holed out from off the green three times in the third round for birdies at the first and fourth holes and a par at the 14th, bringing his total number of hole-outs this season to 12 (3 at CareerBuilder Challenge, 2 at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, 4 at Genesis Open).

 

Mickelson is trying to join Tiger Woods (18), Dustin Johnson (3) and Geoff Ogilvy (3) as the only players with three or more wins in a World Golf Championships event.

 

This is Mickelson’s 15th start in the Mexico Championship, where he owns two other top-five finishes to go along with his victory in 2009. Mickelson held a share of the 54-hole lead in 2009 en route to his win.

 

Mickelson, 46, is the oldest player in the field this week. Ernie Els, aged 40 years, 4 months, 25 days in 2010, is the oldest winner of the Mexico Championship.

 

Mickelson has proven his mettle on high altitude golf courses with his win at the 1990 U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills GC, as well as the 1993 and 1997 International at Castle Pines GC in Denver, which are located approximately 5,300 and 6,300 feet above sea level, respectively. This week, Club de Golf Chapultepec is located at 7,800 feet above sea level.

 

Mickelson is searching for his first win on the PGA TOUR since the 2013 Open Championship.

 

Lee Westwood, T5

Making his 56th start in a World Golf Championships event this week – an all-time record – Lee Westwood fired a 5-under 31 on the closing nine in round three to sit T5.

 

Putting was the key for Westwood, who holed 108 feet of putts in the third round, compared to 72 feet in round two and 55 feet in the first round.

 

In 55 previous starts in a World Golf Championships event, Westwood’s best finish is a solo second at both the 2000 Mexico Championship and 2010 HSBC Champions.

 

Westwood qualified for the Mexico Championship by finishing inside the top 20 (13th) of the final 2016 European Tour Race to Dubai Standings.

 

A two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, Westwood now competes solely on the European Tour, where he has compiled 23 wins to go along with 16 other international victories over the course of his veteran career.

 

Jon Rahm, T5

Jon Rahm is one of six players making their World Golf Championships debut this week. The 22-year-old Spaniard was No. 137 in the Official World Ranking before winning the Farmers Insurance Open to advance to No. 46. Two more strong performances (T16/Waste Management Phoenix Open, T5/AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am) moved him to No. 37 helping secure his position inside the top 50 and earn a spot in the field at the Mexico Championship.

 

In his fifth start of his rookie season, Rahm carded a 65 in the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open to win his first career PGA TOUR title by three shots. The win was capped by a lengthy eagle putt from the back fringe on the par-5 18th hole.

 

Rahm is making his 20th PGA TOUR start and owns six top-10 finishes, including a win (2017 Farmers Insurance Open), a runner-up finish (2016 RBC Canadian Open) and a third place result (2016 Quicken Loans National).

 

Jordan Spieth, T10

Jordan Spieth, starting the third round off the 10th tee in T40 position, posted a bogey-free 8-under 63 to move to T10 and five stokes back heading into the final round. His round included six birdies and an eagle 2 at the first hole (his 10th) when his tee shot finished over the green at the 322-yard par-4 and he chipped-in from 23 feet.

 

Spieth’s 63 is the low round of the tournament through 54 holes and one stroke off the tournament record of 62 shared by Retief Goosen (2002), Bubba Watson (2012), Sergio Garcia (2002) and J.B. Holmes (2015).

 

Spieth’s 63 is recognized as a course record at Club de Golf Chapultepec. In 2014, in a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica event (8 Abierto Mexicano de Golf), Californian Chris Gillman posted a first-round 63 (par 72) but preferred lies were used that week.

 

Spieth has three hole-outs from off the green this week, tied for most with Si Woo Kim. Through 54 holes, the number of hole-outs by the 77 players in the field at the Mexico Championship stands at 61.

 

With his recent win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Spieth tied Jason Day for most victories since the start of the 2013 PGA TOUR season. Spieth and Day have nine each, while Rory McIlroy is joined by Dustin Johnson who now owns seven after his Genesis Open win.

 

Heading into this week, Spieth has finished inside the top 10 four times in five starts (T22/Genesis Open).

 

In three appearances at the Mexico Championship, Spieth’s highest finish is T17, the position he has finished the last two years.

Miscellaneous Notes

England’s Tommy Fleetwood (T7) moved into contention with a 5-under 66 which included three consecutive birdies on holes 10-12. The four-time European Tour winner claimed his most recent title earlier this year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Fleetwood’s best finish in 12 career starts on the PGA TOUR came at the 2015 Dell Technologies Match Play (T5) when he lost to countryman Danny Willett in the quarterfinals.

 

Mexico’s Roberto Diaz lies T57 at 5-over through 54 holes. Diaz secured his exemption into the Mexico Championship by finishing as the top-ranked Mexican player in the world (No. 472) at the conclusion of the Web.com Tour’s Panama Claro Championship.

 

There are five past champions in the field this week:

 

Player (year won)                                                   R3 Standing

Adam Scott (2016)                                                   T53

Dustin Johnson (2015)                                            2nd

Patrick Reed (2014)                                                T63

Justin Rose (2012)                                                  T38                           

Phil Mickelson (2009)                                              T3

 

Twenty-two countries are represented at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship this week with the United States leading the way with 27 players in the field. England is represented by 10 players with Australia and South Africa each having five players competing.

 

There are 14 players making their first start in the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship: Sam Brazel, Kevin Chappell, Roberto Diaz, Matthew Griffin, Tyrrell Hatton, Mackenzie Hughes, Si Woo Kim, William McGirt, Thomas Pieters, Jon Rahm, Brendan Steele, Brandon Stone, Jeunghun Wang and Fabrizio Zanotti.

 

Of the 14 first-timers, six players are making their World Golf Championships debut this week: Sam Brazel, Roberto Diaz, Matthew Griffin, Mackenzie Hughes, Jon Rahm and Brandon Stone.

 

The World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship is now the second PGA TOUR event staged in Mexico during the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season. Pat Perez won the 2016 OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November for his second PGA TOUR victory. Perez is in the field this week in Mexico City by virtue of being inside the top 10 in the FedExCup standings through last week’s The Honda Classic. Perez is T38 after the third round.

 

Bogey-free rounds:

R1: Pat Perez (68), Sergio Garcia (68), Rickie Fowler (69).

R2: None

R3: Jordan Spieth (63).

 

Scoring Average

Front 9         Back 9             Total             Cumulative

R1          35.618          36.026             71.645                                                   –

R2          35.526          35.316             70.842          71.243

R3          35.145          35.434             70.579          71.022

 

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