MEXICO CITY — When William McGirt steps up to the tee for the opening round of the WGC-Mexico Championship on Thursday, he’ll be tested with a unique risk-reward challenge on the Club de Golf Chapultepec course.
Not known for his length off the tee, McGirt’s average drive travels roughly 286 yards, ranking 148th on the PGA Tour.
This week, that stat won’t matter as much.
“(It) won’t be like a normal week when guys play holes the same way,” the Fairmont native told The Robesonian. “You may see a driver, hybrid and a long iron off the tee in the same group. Not many drivers out here because there is nowhere to miss it or not too much room to work it.”
In a star-studded 77-man field with 49 of the top 50 players in the world set to compete, the bombers and dart-throwers will be tested alike on the tight tree-lined course.
The field will play at a Tour-record 7,800 feet above sea level this week. At its highest point, Club de Golf Chapultepec reaches 7,835 feet above sea level.
The setup should offer plenty of opportunities for players to watch their golf ball travel at great distances in the thin Mexico City air.
McGirt said his ball has been traveling between 10 to 15 percent farther this week.
“(My) ball has been going forever in the practice rounds,” he said. “It all depends on how high you hit it.”
But two more statistics will carry more weight as the WGC Championship makes its debut south of the border: driving accuracy and greens in regulation percentage.
“(It’s a) very tight golf course,” said McGirt, who ranks fifth on the Tour in driving accuracy and sixth in greens in regulation percentage.
McGirt called it a “great golf course” with “single-file fairways.”
“(The) greens are a bit bumpy, but the layout is fantastic,” he said. “Only so much can be done with poa annua greens.”
Paired with Sean O’Hair and David Lipsky, McGirt tees off Thursday from the 10th tee at 2:15 p.m. Eastern time.
He will be making his second appearance in the World Golf Championships. He made his debut at the WGC-Bridgestone Inviational last season, earning a tie for seventh at Firestone Country Club in Ohio.
Earlier this season, McGirt opted out of the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China to show his support for the Sanderson Farms Championship.
With his latest challenge coming with elevated expectations in Mexico City, McGirt and the rest of the world’s best golfers will be in for quite a ride this week as they navigate the course.
“(It) should be fun,” McGirt said.
Adam Scott is the defending champion of the event, claiming the title at Trump Doral last season.
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.