The scramble for The Masters is on--at extremely high altitude

The scramble for The Masters is on--at extremely high altitude

World's top pros head for Mexico City for the WGC-Mexico Championship

Reid Spencer Publisher
image (AP File Photo/Adam Hunger)
Top-ranked Dustin Johnson is the defending champion of the WGC-Mexico Championship. He's the only player to have won all four World Golf Championship events.

Ready. Set. Go!

The Masters scramble is officially in progress. But don’t be surprised if some of those racing for a spot in the year’s first major run out of breath.

Pros from around the world are competing this week in the WGC-Mexico Championship at Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City—at an elevation of 7,800 feet, the highest altitude for a PGA Tour-sanctioned event this year.

Chapultepec is 50-percent closer to the stratosphere than the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado, and pros will see their shots fly roughly 10-percent farther than they do at sea level, turning prodigious drives into colossal ones.

The top seven players in the world are competing in Mexico this week, but that group no longer includes major champions Rory McIlroy, Jason Day or Henrik Stenson, who are skipping the event that features a short 65-player field.

But with the Masters looming, players now have one month either to crack the top 50 in the world or to win a sanctioned event (if they haven’t done so already) to claim a spot in the field at Augusta National.  

The LPGA Tour journeys from Australia to Singapore this week for the HSBC Women’s World Championship, which features 19 of the top 20 players in the world rankings. Inbee park, a two-time winner of the event, is the defending champion.

Below is a comprehensive preview of everything happening around the world of professional golf this week.



Site: Mexico City.

Course: Chapultepec Golf Club. Yardage: Par: 71.

Purse: $10 million. Winner's share: $1.8 million.

Television: Thursday-Friday, 2-7 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, noon to 3 p.m. (Golf Channel); 3-6 p.m. (NBC); Sunday, Noon to 2 p.m. (Golf Channel); 2-6 p.m. (NBC).

Defending champion: Dustin Johnson.

Last World Golf Championship: Justin Rose won the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Notes: The 65-man field features the top seven players in the world. Jordan Spieth (photo) was contemplating taking the week off but entered at the last minute. ... Among those healthy and skipping the event are Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Henrik Stenson. U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and Hideki Matsuyama remain out with wrist injuries. ... Shubhankar Sharma, the 21-year-old from India who has won twice on the European Tour this season, is playing in his first World Golf Championships. ... Chapulpetec is located at nearly 7,800 feet altitude, the thinnest air this year for a PGA Tour-sanctioned event. ... Johnson has won five World Golf Championships, second to the 18 won by Tiger Woods. Johnson is the only player to win all four of them. ... Players have one month to get into the top 50 or win a PGA Tour event to get into the Masters. Eighteen players in the field are not yet eligible. ... Abraham Ancer is in the field as the Mexican with the highest world ranking.

Next World Golf Championship: Dell Technologies Match Play on March 21-25.





Site: Singapore.

Course: Sentosa GC (Tanjong Course). Yardage: 6,718. Par: 72.

Purse: $1.5 million. Winner's share: $225,000.

Television: Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. (Golf Channel); Thursday-Friday, midnight to 2:30 a.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. (Golf Channel).

Defending champion: Inbee Park (photo).

Last week: Jessica Korda won the Honda LPGA Thailand.

Race to CME Globe leaders: Jessica Korda, Jin Young Ko and Brittany Lincicome.

Notes: The HSBC Women's World Championship was Inbee Park's only victory on the LPGA Tour last year. ... The field features 19 of the top 20 players in the women's world ranking. ... Lorena Ochoa in 2008 won the inaugural tournament. She won at 20-under 268, a tournament record that still stands. ... Park is the only two-time winner of the tournament, and one of four players who have been No. 1 to win. ... Lexi Thompson moved to No. 2 in the world with her runner-up finish in Thailand. This is her seventh week at No. 2 in her career. ... Fifteen-year-old Atthaya Thitikul earned a spot in the field by winning the Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific. ... All three LPGA Tour winners are in the field this week.

Next tournament: Bank of Hope Founders Cup on March 15-18.





Site: Tucson, Ariz.

Course: Omni Tucson National (Catalina Course). Yardage: 7,238. Par: 73.

Purse: $1.7 million. Winner's share: $255,000.

Television: Friday, 7-9 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 4:30-7 p.m. (Golf Channel).

Defending champion: Tom Lehman (photo).

Last tournament: Joe Durant won the Chubb Classic.

Schwab Cup leader: David Toms.

Notes: Toms leads the money list without having won on the PGA Tour Champions. But he has finished in the top five in all three of his events, and he has posted all nine rounds in the 60s. Dating to the Schwab Cup playoffs last year, Toms has 13 consecutive sub-70 rounds. ... Steve Stricker was runner-up last year in Tucson. ... The tournament is in its fourth year and has a new title sponsor this year. ... Bernhard Langer has gone four starts without winning. The last time Langer had a drought that long, he won the following week. He has finished third in Tucson each of the last two years. ... John Daly shot all three rounds in the 60s at the Chubb Classic, only the fourth time he has done that in 35 starts on the PGA Tour Champions.

Next week: Toshiba Classic.





Site: Waterkloof, South Africa

Course: Pretoria CC. Yardage: 7,081. Par: 71.

Purse: ZAR15 million.

Television: Thursday-Friday, 5:30-10:30 a.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 6:30-9:30 a.m. (Golf Channel).

Defending champion: Dean Burmester (photo).

Last week: Eddie Pepperell won the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

Race to Dubai leader: Shubhankar Sharma.

Notes: This is the second straight year the Tshwane Open has been held opposite a World Golf Championship. ... Danny Willett is in the field and will attempt to become the second Masters champion to win the Tshwane Open. Charl Schwartzel won it in 2016 when it was held the second week in February. ... Ross Fisher of England is the only player from outside South Africa to win in the tournament's five-year history. ... Austin Connelly, who tied for 14th in the British Open, is in the field. Also playing is Chase Koepka, the younger brother of U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka.

Next week: Hero Indian Open.




Last week: Justin Thomas won the Honda Classic.

Next week: Valspar Championship.

FedEx Cup leader: Justin Thomas.



Last tournament: Ben Taylor won the Club Colombia Championship.

Next tournament: El Bosque Mexico Championship on March 8-11.

Money leader: Sungjae Im.





PGA Tour of Australasia: ISPS Handa New Zealand Open, Millbrook Resort, Arrowtown, New Zealand. Defending champion: Michael Hendry. Online:


Ladies European Tour: NSW Women's Open, Coffs Harbour GC, Coffs Harbour, Australia. Defending champion: New tournament.

Japan LPGA: Daikin Orchid Ladies, Ryukyu GC, Okinawa, Japan. Defending champion: Sun-ju Ahn. Online:

(The Associated Press provided the tournament thumbnails in this article.)


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