Damien Kayat previews the WGC Workday Championship taking place at The Concession Club, Brandenton, Florida.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
2021 WGC Events |WGC Workday Championship
WGC Workday Championship, The Concession Club, Brandenton, Florida
Last week wreaked havoc with most analysts, with the likes of Max Homa and Sam Burns ambushing one of golf’s classic tests. This week sees the start of a four-week Florida Swing, with the Concession Club in Florida helping to alleviate Covid concerns. This event was inaugurated in 1999 and is one of four annual World Golf Championships. This event was previously held at Doral’s Blue Monster before moving to Club de Golf Chapultepec in 2019 (much to Donald Trump’s chagrin). The organizers took the decision to migrate north of the border again to streamline this portion of the tour. The 72-man field will feature 48 of the world’s top 50 players (all but Tiger Woods and Paul Casey will be in attendance). As ever with WGC events, there will be no 36-hole cut. What makes this week even more intriguing is the relative mystery of the host course: Concession.
The brainchild of both Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin, Concession is named for the Golden Bear’s famous act of sportsmanship during the 1969 Ryder Cup- which guaranteed the first ever tie in the event’s history. The 7,474-yard par 72 looks like it should provide a stern test for the players. This course meanders its way through an array of meadows, wetlands and pine forests. The small green complexes will be especially challenging. Accuracy off the tee seems less important than solid approaches. By all the accounts the fairways are said to be quite generous. But the greens are well guarded by numerous traps and severe slopes. Players will need to probably chip well this week while distance will always be advantageous at over 7,400 yards.
This is a stunning field that really announces the arrival of the Florida Swing. Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm had solid outings last week and will enter this event as favourites. Rory McIlroy has struggled of late and really needs a strong performance leading into the upcoming Players. The likes of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele always fly under the radar and deserve more respect. Justin Thomas is still looking to rehabilitate his image after that now infamous homophobic slur. Last week’s champion Max Homa scores an invite in what should be a terrific advertisement for golf.
2020: Patrick Reed (-18)
2019: Dustin Johnson (-21)
2018: Phil Mickelson (-18) * playoff
2017: Dustin Johnson (-14)
2016: Adam Scott (-12)
Outright Betting (To Win)
Dustin Johnson (13/2)
Jon Rahm (17/2)
Rory McIlroy (15/1)
Xander Schauffele (15/1)
Justin Thomas (16/1)
Joaquin Niemann- To Win (55/1), To Place (12/1)
Prior to Riviera, Niemann had finished second in back-to-back events in Hawaii, playing beautifully in the early part of the season. He was once again in contention going into Saturday at Riviera. That was until a horror round of 78 put pay to any chance of success for the consistent Chilean. He has been around at the weekend for eleven straight weeks now. In that span he has four top 10 finishes. 28 of 32 rounds this season have been 70 or better. That puts him 4th in Scoring Average on the PGA Tour. Niemann could be a great dark horse pick this week, especially in the place markets.
Lee Westwood- To Win (110/1), To Place (24/1)
It’s easy to forget given the craziness of 2020 that Lee Westwood ultimately won the Race to Dubai crown. Sure, he hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2010. He did, however, win last year’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships on the European Tour. He also finished runner-up at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship. Furthermore, he tied for 13th at the US Open. These performances all show his ability to perform in elite field events. Always strong off the tee, Westwood will always be a factor should his putter fire. An improved putting stroke was the secret to his new found success last year. He could be an interesting outside bet this week.
The Man to Beat
The Man to Beat- Bryson DeChambeau- To Win (18/1), To Place (39/10)
This event did actually host the 2015 NCAA. How does that arcane detail coincide with this event? Bryson DeChambeau won that event. Not only is he one of the few men who has experience at Concession, he’s actually tasted victory here before. DeChambeau currently sits 15th in Approach and 18th in Around the Green. Those should prove vital indicators of success this week. DeChambeau missed the cut last week after a horrible opening round at Riviera. But he had respectable- if unspectacular- showings before that, finishing T7 and T18. The American also still sits 1st in Shots Gained off the Tee this season. I think he will thrive in these familiar environs. Furthermore, he finished 4th during his last visit to Florida at Bay Hill.