This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
WGC-WORKDAY CHAMPIONSHIP AT THE CONCESSION
Winner's Share: $1.82M
FedEx Cup Points: 550 to the Winner
Location: Bradenton, Fla.
Course: The Concession Golf Club
2020 champion: Patrick Reed (at Club de Golf Chapultepec)
The Hawaii Swing is over, the West Coast Swing is over and now the Florida Swing begins – albeit one week sooner than originally scheduled. The first World Golf Championships event of the year was moved from Mexico – yes, of course, the pandemic is to blame. It will take place just south of Tampa at a course new to the PGA Tour, one that is a mere 15 years old. The Concession was designed by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin, and its name comes from a moment linking the two together. More on that below.
All but two of the top 50 golfers in the world are entered in this no-cut field of 73. Those missing are No. 18 Paul Casey and No. 50 Tiger Woods. The golf world was also hoping to see Jordan Spieth this week, but he could climb to only 61st in the world rankings. The field will also be without some longtime WGC regulars in Phil Mickelson – playing on the Champions Tour this week – Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson.
As for who is here, Dustin Johnson naturally heads the loaded field. Johnson holds six WGC titles, which would be a record if not for Woods' whopping 18. He's won iterations of this tournament three times, once at Doral and twice in Mexico. At the opposite end of the field are what puts the W into WGC – players from around the world. There are two apiece from the Japan, Asian, Australasian and Sunshine Tours, plus about a dozen European Tour players not in the top 50 of the OWGR. While any of these guys can make their way up the leaderboard, especially in such a small field, they candidly are lesser golfers. Eight of them are outside the top 150 in the world, bottoming out at No. 416 Trevor Simsby. What we see often in WGC events is that the 10-to-15 guys at the bottom of the field rarely make a dent. You might need one to fill your lineup, but other than the luxury of being assured four rounds in a no-cut event, don't expect much impact from them. When you are guaranteed to have all six of your golfers play the weekend, there are opportunities to take some chances.
Okay, on to the course. The Concession takes its name from the 1969 Ryder Cup, when Nicklaus conceded a two-foot putt to Jacklin on the final hole – it became known as "the concession" – to ensure the first tie – the United States still retained the cup – in Ryder Cup history. The club opened in 2006 and was promptly named "Best New Private Course" by Golf Digest. Club officials have had only about six weeks to get ready after the Tour bowed out of Mexico for the year.
The Concession is on the verge of being considered very long, and it has some extremely long holes. Mostly the par-3s and par-5s. Three of the par-3s run longer than 210 yards and three of the par-5s exceed 600. Meanwhile, there are some very short par-4s, two of them well inside 400 yards and only three over 450. What is normally the case with Nicklaus designs is that things get more difficult closer to the hole, and often later in the round. This course is no different. It has fairly wide-open fairways, where positioning is paramount, leading to tiered, undulating, tiny bermudagrass greens that will run about 12 on the Stimpmeter. In other words, this is a second-shot golf course. But with greens averaging only about 6,000 square feet and water affecting 12 of the holes, getting on in regulation is no sure thing.
There's a video online with Bradenton resident and Concession member Paul Azinger talking about the course. He said if the wind doesn't blow, "they will shoot some pretty good scores." But he also expects a "big gap" between the top and bottom of the leaderboard. He described Concession as "the kind of golf course that will eat your lunch." Golfodds.com has pegged the over/under on the winning score at 273.5, or 14.5 shots under par.
One tournament of note has been held here – the 2015 NCAA Championships – and a number of the collegians are in this field. The individual title was won by none other than former SMU Mustang Bryson DeChambeau at 8-under-par. Thomas Detry, a 28-year-old Belgian ranked 90th in the world, finished in a tie for third at 6-under playing for Illinois. Jon Rahm (Arizona State) tied for 22nd at 2-over, Scottie Scheffler (Texas) tied for 33rd at 6-over and Xander Schauffele (San Diego State) tied for 45th at 9-over. Yes, there was a 17-shot difference between DeChambeau and Schauffele. The course played virtually the same length as it will this week.
Weather-wise, the conditions should be such that the players could go low. It is expected to be sunny with highs around 80 all four days, with no rain and minimal wind, which Azinger said could trigger some low numbers.
Key Stats to Winning at The Concession
The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in importance.
• Strokes Gained: Approach/Greens in Regulation
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green/Scrambling
• Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee/Driving Distance
2020 — Patrick Reed (Chapultepec)
2019 — Dustin Johnson (Chapultepec)
2018 — Phil Mickelson (Chapultepec)
2017 — Dustin Johnson (Chapultepec)
2016 — Adam Scott (Doral)
2015 — Dustin Johnson (Doral)
2014 — Patrick Reed (Doral)
2013 — Tiger Woods (Doral)
2012 — Justin Rose (Doral)
2011 — Nick Watney (Doral)
We are of course somewhat limited with no course history of note. But we know what Nicklaus designs are all about, and we got some good tips from Azinger and other online resources. At Nicklaus tracks, golfers are required to use all the clubs in their bags. He likes to let the golfers take out their driver and let fly. But if they're not accurate – and we're talking about the proper angle to the hole more than being in the fairway – things can get more dicey quickly. The greens are small, so scrambling will invariably come into play. And the green complexes sure sound sophisticated with tiers and undulations. We are proceeding with a plan to first and foremost target good iron players. It sure sounds as if some of the lesser golfers, especially those not familiar with Nicklaus courses, could run into difficulty. But we do have the buffer that all of them, no matter how bad, will be sticking around for all four days – and maybe learning enough on Thursday and Friday to do better on Saturday and Sunday.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Dustin Johnson - $11,600 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 13-2)
Johnson looked completely out of sorts Sunday at Riviera. He was far off his A-game. He finished eighth. Yep, that's a bad week for DJ. On top of everything else Johnson has going for him, he now leads the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach for the very first time. That seems a bit unfair. He is all systems go this week.
Jon Rahm - $11,100 (9-1)
Rahm snuck up on Sunday to tie for fifth, giving him five top-7s in his past six starts. So it goes without saying, he's almost always in the mix, and he figures to be again this week.
Patrick Cantlay - $10,000 (20-1)
There's really no weakness is Cantlay's game. But it is his elite scrambling – he's ranked second on Tour – that could be the difference this week. He had an off-weekend at Riviera, leaving him in a tie for 15th. Still, that leaves him with a win, a second, a third and three top-20s in his past six starts.
Tier 2 Values
Viktor Hovland - $9,400 (20-1)
Hovland is on the first page of the leaderboard virtually every week he plays. He's always been great with driver or an iron in his hand; lately, he's vastly improved the weakest part of his game: scrambling. That explains a top-five at Riviera, his fifth top-6 in his pat six starts beginning with his Mayakoba win.
Webb Simpson - $9,100 (30-1)
Simpson has not been in contention all season, though he does have three top-10s and three more top-25s in eight starts. This is a long course for Simpson, but he is among the best long iron players on Tour, not to mention is superior scrambling and putting. The par-5s are so long that many in the field won't be able to get there in two, oddly helping Simpson, who likely would play them that way anyway.
Scottie Scheffler - $8,300 (40-1)
Scheffler had a bit of a blip with consecutive missed cuts at the Amex and Farmers. But he appears to have righted himself with a T7 at Phoenix and a T10 at Riviera. Scheffler played four majors and WGCs in 2020 and finished no worse than 26th in any of them. He is among the longest straightest drivers in golf. His putting like will hold back a very high finish.
Tier 3 Values
Will Zalatoris - $8,000 (60-1)
It's no longer a question whether Zalatoris can compete with the big boys; we've seen it happen often. He was T15 at the Genesis, giving him a seventh top-10 in 10 starts this season. There are some weaknesses in his game, notably being wildly inaccurate off the tee. But he is ranked an elite ninth in SG: Approach and 13th in SG: Tee-to-Green.
Louis Oosthuizen - $7,900 (60-1)
Now 38, Oosthuizen still delivers in big tournaments – he was sixth at the WGC-FedEx and third at the U.S. Open last fall. He tied for 11th last time out at Phoenix. Oosthuizen's short game has been at a very high level – he's ranked 21st in SG: Around-the-Green and third in Putting.
Marc Leishman - $7,400 (125-1)
Leishman has not been great this season, though he has been far better than last season after the restart. He was a decent T32 at Riviera, breaking a string of three straight top-25s, one of which was a tie for fourth at the Sony. Leishman has been great with his long irons, something that could pay dividends this week – he's ranked second on Tour in approaches from 200-225 yards. And we know the former Bay Hill winner likes to play in Florida.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout - $6,900 (100-1)
"Bez" – yeah, let's just call him Bez, it's easier – won a couple of low-level events in his native South Africa late last year to give him three titles in 2020 and now is ranked 36th in the world. He's been in a handful of WGCs and majors, with some decent results. He has a pair of top-25s in WGCs and made the cut at the Masters and U.S. Open last year. Bez has been idle since Saudi Arabia three weeks ago.
Lanto Griffin - $6,700 (125-1)
Griffin recently cracked the top-50 in the world for the first time, but has since fallen back to 51st. He's coming off a tie for seventh at Torrey Pines and he just missed a top-25 at Riviera. Over the past year, he's shown the ability to compete in top fields. He finished top-30 at the WGC-Mexico, top-20 at the PGA Championship and was also 7th and 11th in similarly loaded no-cut fields at the CJ Cup and ZOZO. Griffin is among the longer hitters on Tour and also one of the best putters.
Lucas Herbert - $6,200 (250-1)
The Australian playing on the European Tour is ranked 66th, just off his career best of 64th. He's played only three times in 2021, all on the Euro Tour's Middle East Swing, for lack of a better term. He had two top-25s and a missed cut in what would be considered weak fields on the PGA Tour. Herbert recently turned 25, and what we like is he's already been in quite a few big events with loaded fields and perhaps won't be so wide-eyed anymore. This will be his third WGC and he's also been in five majors, making three cuts, with his most recent venture, the U.S. Open last fall, being his best result at a tie for 31st.