2023 Mexico Open at Vidanta First Round Leader Picks: Ride Emiliano Grillo’s Momentum

This is the second running of the Mexico Open and the second year it will be played at Vidanta Vallarta, a long par 71 venue that catered to bombers last season. For first-round leader purposes, there are a couple of factors to consider. The heat and humidity will be climbing throughout the day given the event is in a tropical climate in Mexico, and the open course will almost assuredly see a little more wind in the afternoon. That should give the early starters the edge on Day 1, much like last season when there was a six-way tie for the first-round lead; five of those golfers started their rounds in the morning.

The other factor to consider is the style of golfer. Emphasizing strong ball strikers and players who gain strokes off the tee was the move last season, as nine of the top 10 players on the leaderboard gained over a stroke off the tee for the week. For Thursday’s opener, the goal is to get a couple of big hitters at good odds (with early tee times) in first-round portfolio as well. With wind and a unique course in play, we will look to OddsShopper’s golf betting tools to identify the best value options for first-round leader selections for the 2023 Mexico Open at Vidanta.

2023 Mexico Open at Vidanta First Round Leader Bets

Emiliano Grillo First Round Leader (+5500) at BetMGM

Grillo comes into riding some momentum. He gained a whopping 8.6 strokes around the green and putting at the RBC Heritage but was also very positive with his approaches, gaining 3.6 strokes for the week in that department as well. Grillo’s off-tee game is nearly always an asset, and his record on longer courses like TPC Twin Lakes (second in 2020) and Jackson Country Club (fifth 2022) is encouraging for what awaits him at Vidanta. He is also no stranger to putting on paspalum, having played multiple years (and posting multiple top-10s) at both the CIMB Classic and the Mayakoba Classic — both of which feature or featured paspalum greens. Grillo is trending well and looks like a rock-solid fit for the course. Grabbing him and his early tee time at +5500 makes for a great way to start off first-round leader cards.


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Garrick Higgo First Round Leader (+6500) at BetMGM

Higgo is an enigmatic talent who has been a rollercoaster ride for betting and DFS purposes since joining the PGA Tour in 2020. He can move it well off the tee and has gained strokes in that department in nine of his last 11 PGA starts. He’s started to show some upside in other areas and most interestingly gained strokes putting for the first time in five starts at the RBC Heritage. The switch in green types in Mexico may help Higgo out quite a bit given his general struggles on other surfaces. Plus, the longer setup at Vidanta also has lots of similarities to Congaree, which he won on back in 2020. Like Grillo, Higgo also has an early tee time, and the +6500 odds are hard to ignore in the first round.

2023 Mexico Open at Vidanta First Round Leader Longshot Bets

Longshot bets in the first-round leader market hit all the time on the PGA Tour. You can always use OddsShopper’s tools to check out and compare odds across the major sites.

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Akshay Bhatia First Round Leader (+8000) at BetMGM

Akshay Bhatia First Round Leader Top 5 (+1400) at BetMGM

There are few players in the field who have the talent that Bhatia possesses. He has already accepted special temporary membership for this season on the PGA and can go hunting for his first win without worrying if he’ll get in the field for next tournament. This week also marks the perfect spot for him to flourish given the larger golf course and tropical locale — both of which should fit Bhatia well. He earned his only Korn Ferry Tour win on another lengthy golf course in the Bahamas at the start of 2022, and the creative lefty will be able to shape his drives as he pleases on most holes in Mexico. One thing seems certain: With odds of +8000 or longer still out there in both first-round leader and outright markets, the oddsmakers have not yet caught up to Bhatia’s upside. Until they do, he will be a great value target in these weaker fields. Getting on him Thursday for a first-round leader play makes plenty of sense, with +8000 odds and an early tee time.

Martin Trainer First Round Leader (+10000) at BetMGM

Martin Trainer First Round Leader Top 5 (+1800) at BetMGM

Big Train season might be here once again. Trainer is playing a limited schedule this season thanks to not having full status, but he has made cuts in each of his last two starts. He has won in tropical climates on both the PGA Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour and is big enough off the tee that he should be a solid fit for the course. Trainer played here last season and finished 11th, a great sign that he will jive quickly with the Paspalum greens, which can give players trouble if they are not used to the slower speeds. Trainer is available at triple digits for first-round leader on BetMGM and carries solid +1800 top-5 odds. With an early tee time in Round 1, he’s an easy add as a longshot play for Thursday.

Geoff Ulrich
Author

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