WGC-Workday Championship Preview

            The PGA Tour ended its California swing with a highly entertaining Genesis Invitational. The Tour will begin its Florida rotation this week with the World Golf Championships – Workday Championship at The Concession Golf Course in Bradenton, Florida. The WGC-Workday is replacing the WGC-Mexico which had been held at Club de Chapultepec in Mexico City since 2017. Due to COVID-19, the Tour decided to change the venue of the event this year. The Concession is a Jack Nicklaus designed course that has never been played on Tour. The only type of “course history” that exists is the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship. However, I did not take that event into consideration when handicapping the event this week.

The Concession will play as a Par 72 and measure nearly 7,500 yards. There are four Par 3s, ten Par 4s, and four Par 5s. Three of the Par 3s will play over 200 yards, and three of the Par 5s will play over 550 yards. The field consists of 72 golfers, and there will not be a cut this week.

With various unknowns surrounding the course this week, the betting community will have many different ways of approaching this event. I started my handicapping process by looking to other Jack Nicklaus designed courses. Nicklaus courses include: Muirfield Village (Memorial Tournament and 2020 Workday Charity Open) and Sherwood (2020 ZoZo). Nicklaus also re-designed PGA National in 2014 (Honda Classic). I also looked at other courses that are played in Florida to see if there are any players who consistently play well in the Sunshine State. Florida courses I looked at were: Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer Invitational) and TPC Sawgrass (The PLAYERS Championship).

Based off the information I gathered about the Concession Golf Course, I decided to look at ball-striking, Around the Green play, and overall putting. With water hazards in play this week, Off-the-Tee play will also be important.

Key Stats: Off-the-Tee, Tee-to-Green, Distance, Approach, Greens-in-Regulation, Around the Green, Putting, and Putting Average

Scoring Stats: Birdie-or-Better Percentage, Bogey Avoidance, Par 4 Birdie-or-Better Percentage, Par 3 Efficiency (200-225 yards), and Par 5 Efficiency (550-600 yards).

WGC – Workday Championship Tips

Patrick Cantlay 18-1 (Fanduel)

          Cantlay has been one of the hottest players on Tour. He flashed his incredible upside when he jolted up the leaderboard on Day 4 at the American Express, tying the course record of 61. Cantlay followed up that explosive finish by tying the course record in the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. In a small field event with no cut, I am looking for a golfer who has the scoring upside to beat the very best, and Patrick Cantlay is that guy.

At the end of 2020, Cantlay won the ZoZo Championship at Sherwood Country Club. In 2019, Cantlay won the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Two wins in two years on Jack Nicklaus courses is reason enough to be intrigued, but it gets better for Cantlay. Over his last three events, Cantlay has gained: 8.5, 9.6, and 6 strokes tee-to-green. He’s gained off-the-tee, and on approach in each of his last three events as well. Using 2020 ShotLink data, Cantlay ranks amongst this field are: 11th Tee-to-Green, 10th in Approach, 7th in Putting Average, 13th in Birdie-or-Better Percentage, and 10th in Par 3 Efficiency (200-225 yards). Cantlay’s game profiles well for a WGC and I am looking for him to take down a Nicklaus course for the third straight year.

Tyrrell Hatton +2250 (DraftKings)

            Hatton is making his 2021 PGA Tour debut this week after a successful month on the European Tour. Hatton’s last four finishes on the Euro Tour have been: T8th, 1st, T22nd, and T6th. The #5 ranked golfer in the world has been playing very solid golf lately, and has very few holes in his game. Hatton won the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year, so he is no stranger to winning in Florida. The Arnold Palmer Invitational also draws a very strong field, and is a course where golfers need to grind in order to win.

            In this field, Hatton ranks: 12th Tee-to-Green, 15th Around the Green, 3rd in Approach, 7th in Greens-in-Regulation, 3rd in Putting Average, 4th in Birdie-or-Better Percentage, 4th in Par 4 Birdie-or-Better Percentage, and 9th in Bogey Avoidance. With the unknowns surrounding Concession Golf Course, I want to back a guy who can win regardless of the general scoring conditions and has shown the ability to win against the very best.

Webb Simpson 29-1 (Fanduel)

          Webb is a complete golfer who has changed his game in recent years to become a “course proof” player. The perception about Webb Simpson is that he is a short hitter, who gets it done on his approach and on the greens. However, Webb can drive it. He can’t drive it nearly as far as most of the other big-name players, but last year Webb averaged 296.2 yards in driving distance. 296 yards is nothing to scoff at, and this aspect of Webb’s game goes unnoticed. If Webb can live in the fairways and continue playing his style of golf, he has the skillset to contend on any course. He finished T17th at the ZoZo Championship, the last Nicklaus designed course played on Tour. Webb has had success in Florida especially in at the PAYERS Championship. His last three appearances at that event have resulted in: T16th, 1st, and T16th.

            In this field, Webb ranks: 14th Tee-to-Green, 5th in Approach, 3rd in Greens-in-Regulation, 13th in Around-the-Green, 7th in Putting, 1st in Putting Average, 1st in Birdie-or-Better Percentage, 1st in Par 4 Birdie-or-Better Percentage, 3rd in Par 3 Efficiency (200-225 yards), and 1st in Bogey Avoidance. Webb has the scoring ability to compete when the winning scores get really low, but is also a consistent player who keeps himself in contention regardless of scoring conditions.

Scottie Scheffler +4650 (DraftKings)

            Scheffler is coming off a pretty volatile Genesis Invitational. For two rounds, Scheffler shot three over par, and for two rounds he shot four under par or better. Scheffler is a young player who continues to gain valuable experience from playing in elite fields and on tougher courses. Scheffler finished T22nd at the Memorial Tournament, and T17th at the ZoZo Championship.

            In this field, Scheffler ranks: 9th Off-the-Tee, 9th Tee-to-Green, 10th in Distance, 10th in Greens-in-Regulation, 14th in Approach, 6th in Birdie-or-Better Percentage, and 3rd in Par 4 Birdie-or-Better Percentage. Scheffler has had two consecutive good events, finishing T7th at Waste Management and T20th at the Genesis Invitational. Scheffler has elite scoring upside, and in a no-cut event I am more willing to embrace the volatility.

Tommy Fleetwood 55-1 (DraftKings)

            Fleetwood, like Hatton, is making his 2021 PGA Tour debut this week. The 5-time European Tour winner has been in good form recently. Fleetwood’s last four events on the Euro Tour have resulted in: T26th, T17th, T7th, and T10th. Fleetwood has played great in Florida, the only thing he’s missing is a win. The last two times Fleetwood has played in the Honda Classic he has finished: 3rd and 4th (he did not play in 2019). At the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Fleetwood has finishes of: T3rd and T26th (2019, and 2018). At the PLAYERS Championship, Fleetwood has finishes of: T5th and T7th (2019 and 2018). Fleetwood has shown a clear Top 5 upside against tough fields on Florida courses.

            In this field, Fleetwood ranks: 13th in Putting, 9th in Distance, 2nd in Par 3 (200-225 yards), and 8th in Par 4 Birdie-or-Better Percentage. In a WGC event, I did not want to stray too far from the top of the betting board. I like this number for the #21 ranked golfer in the world, who’s name seems to live on the first page of leaderboards.

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