U.S. golfers Dustin Johnson, right, and Daniel Berger, second left, stand with caddies as they watch a drive by Gary Woodland, of the U.S., while practicing on the 9th hole at Chapultepec Golf Club a day before the start of the Mexico Championship in Mexico City, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. All but one of the world's top 50 golfers will contest the World Golf Championship PGA event, which this year relocated to Mexico City from the Trump National Doral Resort in Florida. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Miami's loss is Mexico gain as World Golf Championship moves

March 02, 2017 - 2:37 am

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Miami's loss is Mexico's gain.

For the first time since 1962 — before Jack Nicklaus had won any of his 18 majors — the PGA Tour will not have a tournament at Doral this year. Doral had hosted a World Golf Championship event the last nine years until Cadillac did not renew as title sponsor and the tour couldn't find another that wanted to be at what is now Trump Doral. It found a sponsor in Grupo Salinas, giving birth to the Mexico Championship.

Adam Scott is the defending champion in a country where he has never played.

"It's nice to go back to the course that you played really well on, but it's just another week, and we're all learning the course, kind of starting on an even playing field," Scott said. "If we were all at Doral, we would all know the course."

This is nothing new to Scott. He won the Australian Open at New South Wales and played the next year at The Lakes. He won The Barclays at Liberty National in 2013 and his title defense was at Ridgewood.

That won't be an issue next year. Grupo Salinas has signed up for six more years, and Chapultepec Golf Club is reputed to be the best in a very large town.

As for Doral?

Commissioner Jay Monahan has said the PGA Tour would like to go back to Doral, though that would require a sponsor and, more importantly, room on the schedule. Players would certainly embrace a return to Doral.

"Hopefully, we'll get a tournament back in Miami, because it's a wonderful golf mecca," Phil Mickelson said. "But to move a World Golf Championship to Mexico City is a good thing."

One anomaly about the move to Mexico? There are no golf tournaments in the United States this week.

PGA TOUR

The Mexico Championship historically was the one WGC event that was designed to move around the world.

It started in 1999 as the American Express Championship at Valderrama, when Tiger Woods made a triple bogey on the 17th hole, still got into a playoff and beat Miguel Angel Jimenez with the Spanish Civil Guard out on the fairway.

Mike Weir won at Valderrama. Woods in 2002 and Ernie Els in 2004 won at Mount Juliet in Ireland. The last time this "World" Golf Championship was held outside the United States was in 2006 when Woods won at The Grove in England.

It also is the second WGC event to be held in Mexico. The World Cup was held in Puerto Vallarta in 2002.

But it's the first time that two individual WGCs have been held outside the United States. The HSBC Champions is held in Shanghai.

Once everyone gets over being in a different Spanish-speaking city, two story lines come into play.

The first is altitude, with Chapultepec Golf Club at nearly 7,800 feet. The ball travels a long way in the thin air, and one only had to see the TrackMan numbers for Dustin Johnson on the range. He hit a pitching wedge 181 yards. "I hit that one pretty good," said Johnson, the king of understatements.

Johnson is playing his first tournament as No. 1 in the world having won at Riviera. And he won't have Jason Day to worry about, because the previous No. 1 withdrew with an ear infection. Rory McIlroy is playing for the first time since Jan. 15 because of a rib injury. He can go to No. 1 with a victory if Johnson doesn't play well.

Television: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, noon to 3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3-6 p.m. (NBC); Sunday, 1-2 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2-6 p.m. (NBC).

LPGA TOUR

HSBC sponsors a World Golf Championship in Shanghai in the fall. In March, it hosts what resembles one on the LPGA Tour.

The HSBC Women's Champions returns to Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore for the 10th time, and there has yet to be a repeat winner. That doesn't bode well for Ha Na Jang, the defending champion.

The top five in the women's world ranking are in the field, and that starts with Lydia Ko. The No. 1 player has gone 11 LPGA Tour events without winning, the longest drought of more than four years playing the tour — as an amateur and a professional.

Paula Creamer received a sponsor's exemption, which at least will allow television to show replays of the most famous shot in tournament history. Creamer won a playoff in 2014 by making an eagle putt from here to eternity, which was estimated at 75 feet.

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).

EUROPEAN TOUR

The Tshwane Open returns to Pretoria, South Africa, minus its major champion.

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel won last year. He won't be defending because he is playing the Mexico Championship. The only winner of the Tshwane Open not from South Africa is Ross Fisher of England. He also is in the Mexico Championship this week.

This is the fourth of five European Tour-sanctioned events in South Africa. The last one is not until November.

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