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2024 Mexico Open at Vidanta Preview, Picks & Analysis

By: | Mon 19 Feb 2024

Emiliano Grillo is one of the most underrated golfers in the world and will this week be looking to win his third PGA Tour title when he tees it up at the Mexico Open.

He has a reputation for inconsistency but has started the 2024 season really well, with nothing worse than a 44th-place finish at the Genesis. This follows his efforts in 2022-23, when he won the Charles Schwab Challenge, tied sixth at The Open, fourth at the ZOZO, fifth at the Sanderson Farms and Mexico Open and tied seventh at the RBC Heritage.

Grillo, from Argentina, hits the ball a long way and has a wonderful touch around the greens but he has struggled with confidence and self-belief. Last season will surely have gone a long way towards putting that right.

Grillo, 31, turned professional in 2011 and earned playing status on the DP World Tour, finishing 10th in his first event, the 2012 Africa Open. His best finish came in 2014 when he finished runner-up to Stephen Gallacher at the Dubai Desert Classic. A series of other decent finishes saw him end the season in 44th place in the Race to Dubai. He also won the Visa Open de Argentina.

He began the 2015 season with a third place at the China Open, a fifth place at the Qatar Masters, sixth at the Open de Espana and 11th at the Shenzhen International. He was fourth at the DP World Tour Championship and 40th on the Race to Dubai.

In 2015, Grillo also lost in a five-man playoff at the Puerto Rico Open on the PGA Tour and 10th at the Barbasol Championship. In just seven starts, he earned enough to qualify for the 2015 Web.com Tour finals, where he finished second to secure his card for the 2016 PGA Tour season.  

In only his eighth career PGA Tour event, Grillo won the season-opening Frys.com open, beating Kevin Na in a sudden-death playoff. He made a 25-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole for three-under-par 69, which was later tied by Na. Grillo then missed a three-foot putt for victory on the first playoff hole, but sealed the win on the second hole with a birdie after Na ended up behind a tree and could only make bogey. The victory gained Grillo entry to The Masters and US PGA and saw him reach 36th in the world rankings.

At the 2016 majors, Grillo finished 12th at The Open, 13th at the US PGA, 17th at The Masters and 54th at the US Open and was named rookie of the year.

His win at the Charles Schwab last year ended an eight-year winless drought as he defeated Adam Schenk in a play-off.

Last year’s Mexico Open was won by Tony Finau, who held off Masters champion Jon Rahm, the defending champion, by three shots as finished the week on 24 under par.

Rahm had closed to within two shots of leader Finau after a sensational, bogey-free 10-under round of 61 on Saturday, but the USA's Finau proved too strong on the final day, finishing with a five-under round of 66. 

Finau denied Rahm a second straight title as he followed previous rounds of 65, 64 and 65 to leave him three shots ahead of defending champion Rahm and five ahead of compatriot Brandon Wu.

"[Rahm] is the best - he's on top of the world right now,” said Finau, who moved up five spots to 11th in the world rankings. "I knew I was going to have my hands full with him all the way to the end.”

It was Finau’s sixth PGA Tour win, with five of them coming in just 20 months. He said: "I didn't know this golf tournament was mine until I just hit this [18th] green here," Finau said. "It's crazy how this game is. You never think you have a tournament won until it's over."

There was feverish speculation at the end of 2023 that Finau was about to join LIV Golf but, for now at least, he remains loyal to the PGA Tour and he will start as one of the favourites this week. He was unhappy to miss out on the Ryder Cup last year, having been a key member of the winning US team in 2021, and there is a sense that he feels he has a point to prove.

Finau propels the ball huge distances with a short backswing and when he is on song he is pure box office. In 245 starts he was made 194 cuts. His first win came at the Puerto Rico Open in 2016 and he had to wait five years for his first full-field success, at the Northern Trust in 2021. He won the 3M Open in July 2022 and added the Rocket Mortgage Classic the following week. Having clearly got a taste for winning, Finau also won the Houston Open in 2022 to cap easily his best year on the PGA Tour.

It took him a while to make the breakthrough - he has 10 runner-up finishes, three third places, 31 top fives and a remarkable 60 top 10s and career earnings of $38m. He has made a steady start to 2024 and will be relishing his return to Mexico.

Thomas Detry

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

The field this week is one of the weakest of the season as many players take time out to draw breath, and Belgium’s Thomas Detry will be looking to take advantage. He has shown glimpses of his very best form this year already and will surely fancy his chances of finally making the big breakthrough here.

The tournament offers a chance for a handful of Mexican golfers to show what they can do, with Rodolfo Cazaubon and Sebastian Vazquez hoping for a life-changing week. Cazaubón is a decent golf who has won four PGA Tour Latinoamerica events and was the PGA Tour Latinoamerica Player of the Year in 2015. Vazquez, who finished in a tie for 55th place 12 months ago and shot two rounds of 67, was the Mexican Amateur Champion in 2011 and 2012.

Vazquez said: “It was a magical week, knowing that I can be among the best, I hope we can celebrate properly this time and it will be a tournament that changes my life … I have been fortunate to be the best in our country, but it is not enough. I always want to be better.”

Tournament Winners:

Jon Rahm won the inaugural tournament in 2022 and it was won last year by Tony Finau.

The Course:

Vidanta Vallarta was designed by Greg Norman. Although there are plenty of trees, the fairway are generous so scoring will be low once again. Most greens are large and undulating and protected by cavernous bunkers. It is a par 73 measuring 7,287 yards.

Form Guide: 

Tony Finau is a hugely gifted and natural talent who rarely has a poor week. I will be amazed if he is not in contention coming down the stretch. And Nicolai Hojgaard has already proved he can compete on the PGA Tour - this could be the week he adds another title to his CV.

To Win:

Tony Finau. Impressive in all departments

Each Way:

Emiliano Grillo. Finding consistency

Each Way:

Thomas Detry. Brilliant ball striker

Five to Follow:

Tony Finau. Fabulous ball striker

Emiliano Grillo. Great temperament

Thomas Detry. Still looking for that elusive victory

Tyson Alexander. Big hitter

Nicolai Hojgaard. Will surely win this year

Five Outsiders to Watch:

Callum Tarren. Underrated English golfer

Austin Eckroat. Will make the breakthrough at some point

Ryan Fox. A proven winner on the DP World Tour but can he make the transition?

Robert MacIntyre. Wondrous short game

Thorbjorn Olesen. Looking to convert DP World Tour form

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Tags: PGA Tour Golf Previews FedEx Cup

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