The first World Golf Championship of the year is upon us as Club de Golf Chapultepec plays host to the WGC Mexico Championship. Brooks Koepka, Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay and Henrik Stenson have all elected to skip the tournament despite a massive prize fund of over $10 million. Here is our look at the best bets ahead of Thursday’s opening round.

Market leaders worth taking on despite quality missing

There is no doubt that the lack of elite players in the field means this looks a golden opportunity for those high in the world rankings who are teeing it up this week. Namely Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, who all can be expected to go well.

Of the three, Johnson is probably the most dangerous given he has won here twice, notably last year when he beat McIlroy by five shots. He was bang in contention at Riviera last week with nine to go, but a few loose iron shots cost him dear and he eventually finished in a tie for 10th. He’s played well for the most part in three consecutive weeks and if tiredness doesn’t set in, he’s a big player at 7/1.

Fresh Fleetwood could tame Chapultepec

As mentioned, tiredness could be a factor for some players this week. Johnson has been to Saudi Arabia and back, while McIlroy will have played three of the last four weeks. However, the same can’t be said for Tommy Fleetwood who goes in as the headline selection at 20/1. The Englishman finished second in the inaugural running in 2017, where he remarkably went off at 200/1! Though the erratic Phil Mickelson won this in 2018, in the three years it’s been hosted at Chapultepec, drivers have, for the most part, dominated.

The course starts with a driveable par-four and throughout it’s crucial to position your ball off the tee around this tree-lined layout. Fleetwood is one of the best drivers in the game and he’ll surely be thrilled to be coming back to a course where he has played well in the past. As well as that second in 2017, he has been 14th and 19th last year, where he was bang in contention at the halfway stage before fading over the weekend.

He hasn’t played since the Middle East swing but that isn’t a concern as he arrived here fresh in 2017 and has twice won in Abu Dhabi – often the first event he plays after the Christmas break. He’s finished runner-up and 11th so far this season, so the game is clearly in good shape and he’ll surely go well again here.

Couple of big-priced runners are worth backing

The reduced field this week means it’s definitely worth having a few at much bigger prices on side. Namely Christiaan Bezuidenhout at 100/1 and Sebastian Munoz at 125/1. The former was a winner in his native South Africa last week and has won at Valderrama, while he played well at Wentworth too. Both of those layouts are similarly tree-lined and the in-form man could go well at a big price.

Munoz, meanwhile, won on the Korn Ferry Tour in Bogota – a course at altitude like Chapultepec, while his best results on the PGA Tour came when third and seventh at the Greenbrier. That’s again played at altitude and the case is made even stronger by the fact he finished second and third at El Bosque in Mexico (6,000 feet above sea level). He opened up with a pair of 69s last week at Riviera, meaning the game is in good shape, and he’s another who could easily outrun his sizeable odds.

Check out this week’s golf podcast where we take a look at the WGC Mexico Championship and Puerto Rico Open.

Check out all the latest golf betting odds at William Hill