Paul Williams

Paul Williams' WGC Workday Championship At The Concession Tips

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The first WGC event of the season is upon us already and the fifth of what was planned to be seven WGC Mexico Championships has had to be renamed and relocated due to the impact of the pandemic. Workday have stepped up to the plate and ‘The Concession’ in Florida will be the venue, a course which will be hosting its first top-flight event since opening in 2006.

An elite field of 72 players with no cut is our task this week, and with the bulk of the world’s top-50 here – Tiger Woods and Paul Casey are the notable exceptions – we’re in for some fun on a new course due to be played in glorious weather.

Before we talk through my WGC Workday Championship tips, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is increasing in the inevitable build-up to The Masters. Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

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Course Overview. If you’re of a certain vintage then you may recall the ‘Concession’ at the Ryder Cup in 1969, when Jack Nicklaus conceded a short putt on the final hole to Tony Jacklin to ensure that the competition ended in a tie for the first time in its history. This week’s venue, which opened in 2006, was named after that occasion with the two men at the heart of the story involved in its design, albeit significantly more so Nicklaus than Jacklin.

At 7,474 yards for its par of 72, this parkland layout features reasonably generous fairways and fearsome greens, making this a 2nd-shot course that rewards strong approach play and a sparkling short game on and around the Bermuda TifEagle greens.

Tall pine and oak trees line some holes, although not claustrophobically so, and a watery grave awaits the truly errant on others, although the real challenge of this course appears to be on the multi-tiered greens. Severe slopes and undulations on the putting surfaces will encourage creativity for those who miss the wrong parts of greens and lag putting may be a critical factor for those who aren’t peppering flags.

workday championship tips

Jack Nicklaus Designs. For research purposes, here are some other Jack Nicklaus designs that we’ve seen on Tour in recent years:

  • Annandale Golf Club – Sanderson Farms Championship through 2013
  • Glen Abbey – RBC Canadian Open – 2008, 2013, 2015-2018
  • Montreux Golf & Country Club – Barracuda Championship through 2019
  • Muirfield Village – Memorial Tournament
  • Old Greenwood GC – Barracuda Championship 2020
  • PGA National – Honda Classic
  • PGA West – Nicklaus Private – Humana Challenge through 2015
  • PGA West – The American Express through 2016
  • Sherwood Country Club – Thousand Oaks – World Challenge through 2013; Zozo Championship 2020
  • Valhalla Golf Club – 2014 PGA Championship

2015 NCAA Championship. Although there’s no PGA Tour event from here at The Concession, there are some familiar names at the top of the 2015 NCAA Championship held here, which is an annual 72-hole event for Collegiate Golfers:

  • 1 Bryson DeChambeau  −8
  • 2 C.T. Pan                      −7
  • T3 Hunter Stewart           −6
  • T3 Thomas Detry             −6
  • 5 Paul Dunne                 −5
  • 6 Claudio Correa           −4
  • 7 Andrew Presley          −3
  • T8 Doug Ghim                 −2
  • T8 Riley Davenport         −2
  • 10 Beau Hossler              −1

Winners & Prices. WGC Mexico Championship: 2020: Patrick Reed, 50/1; 2019: Dustin Johnson, 11/1; 2018: Phil Mickelson, 25/1; 2017: Dustin Johnson, 7/1; WGC Cadillac Championship (Doral): 2016: Adam Scott, 12/1; 2015: Dustin Johnson, 22/1; 2014: Patrick Reed, 80/1; 2013: Tiger Woods, 12/1; 2012: Justin Rose, 66/1; 2011: Nick Watney, 20/1; 2010: Ernie Els, 40/1.

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for the area is here. At this a dry event is expected with light winds, peaking at 10 mph in the afternoons, and temperatures reaching around the high-80s Fahrenheit in the afternoons.

Incoming Form. This WGC event, regardless of its venue and name, is attended by the golfing elite and therefore it’s no surprise to see strong form stats from the winners here.

Going back to 2010, each of the winners had a top-10 finish in at least one of their last 5 starts globally, and over the past 8 renewals you can tighten that trend further as each winner had either won another event or finished runner-up in their previous 5 starts:

Mexico:

  • 2020: Patrick Reed: 15/4/17/8/10/28/3/2/MC/6/MC/51
  • 2019: Dustin Johnson: 27/11/7/24/3/30/7/4/16/1/45/9
  • 2018: Phil Mickelson: 39/MC/54/6/20/3/15/MC/45/5/2/6
  • 2017: Dustin Johnson: MC/18/8/1/6/35/3/6/2/MC/3/1

Doral:

  • 2016: Adam Scott: MC/63/MC/7/2/70/5/2/10/56/2/1
  • 2015: Dustin Johnson: 7/14/46/24/4/31/12/MC/MC/4/2/MC
  • 2014: Patrick Reed: MC/70/59/MC/WD/40/16/1/19/13/17/24
  • 2013: Tiger Woods: 8/11/38/3/4/8/4/4/MC/1/33/37
  • 2012: Justin Rose: 68/1/20/MC/28/7/9/MC/33/13/33/5
  • 2011: Nick Watney: 18/36/33/15/4/6/21/13/6/5/6/9
  • 2010: Ernie Els: 38/9/26/14/2/50/17/12/5/10/17/67

Event Form. Although the event has hopped from Doral to Mexico in recent years, there’s still a theme of previous positive performances in this WGC slot giving a good indication of future success.

Patrick Reed’s debut win at Doral in 2014 is the anomaly in the results below, however each of the 3 WGC Mexico victors already had a victory in this WGC event, and from the Doral days, Scott, DJ, Woods, Watney and Els had each either won there before or had come very close.

Now of course another shift in venue may render this analysis null and void, however similar to the Rolex Series events on the European Tour, similar names tend to win these WGC trophies:

  • 2020: Patrick Reed: 1/23/52/61/37/14
  • 2019: Dustin Johnson: 35/56/2/35/12/4/1/14/1/7
  • 2018: Phil Mickelson: 40/23/38/29/23/20/1/14/55/43/3/16/31/5/7
  • 2017: Dustin Johnson: 35/56/2/35/12/4/1/14
  • 2016: Adam Scott: 39/40/36/29/2/61/9/66/50/6/13/3/25/4
  • 2015: Dustin Johnson: 35/56/2/35/12/4
  • 2014: Patrick Reed: Debut
  • 2013: Tiger Woods: 1/5/1/1/9/1/1/1/5/9/10/WD
  • 2012: Justin Rose: 46/28/15/20/42
  • 2011: Nick Watney: 2/26
  • 2010: Ernie Els: 40/WD/23/12/1/5/11/75/20

With a new venue for the event and to the Tour in general, there will be plenty of unknowns this week and we’ll need to take a leap of faith to a certain degree.

The general consensus is that this layout is no pushover, however with relatively generous fairways the main challenge will be finding the right parts of the greens and putting well on these Bermuda Tifeagle surfaces. A strategic approach may prove to be the best strategy, however at a touch under 7,500 yards from its tips and with a number of forced carries, this layout will also demand a certain level of power from off the tee.

14 of the last 18 WGC winners have rated as 25/1 shots or shorter, so it’s fair to say that in recent times the cream has risen to the top in these events regardless of whether it’s been this WGC when played in Mexico, the WGC Match Play, the WGC Bridgestone/Fed Ex St Jude or the WGC HSBC Champions.

My Final WGC Workday Championship tips are as follows:

Patrick Reed 2pts EW 30/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfair

Any elite event throws up a plethora of questions, particularly when it comes to the top of the market, and a new venue on top of that muddies the already murky waters even further.

Dustin Johnson heads the betting here of course, however 1-over for the 23 holes he completed at Riviera on Sunday, from a position you’d expect the World No.1 to make a far better fist of, raises doubts that shouldn’t be present for a general 6/1 chance. Jon Rahm’s admission that he’s still getting to grips with his Calloway switch is the only real reason I can’t back him here at a just a few points longer, however I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to see either in the upper echelons of the leaderboard on Sunday.

Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Bryson Dechambeau each produced wholly uninspiring performances last week, whereas Patrick Cantlay’s putter misfired too regularly from short range to trust on a course that’s likely to demand a far more solid performance on and around the greens.

Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau are so often bridesmaids when the final scores are totted up that the outright market is far less attractive than it should be for the pair, however one player who can get over the line when the situation demands is defending champion Patrick Reed and he headlines my team this week.

Returning as the man to beat from last year often presents its own challenges in terms of media commitments and pressure of expectation, however the former Masters champion has thicker skin than most on Tour which makes defending far less of a consideration in my view. Seldom far from controversy, he’s needed that thick skin more than he perhaps should have in the past – and he’ll perennially split opinion and have his detractors, that’s for sure – however from a betting perspective that lack of popularity can often boost his price and in my view he’s backable here.

If this course plays tough as is expected, with the main challenge on and around the greens, then there are few in the game currently who have the touch that Reed possesses and Houdini-like ability to get up and down with such regularity from the most challenging of situations. That facet to his game was evident once again at Torrey Pines – controversy aside – as he managed to win the tournament despite ranking a lowly 63rd for Greens In Regulation from those making the weekend. 1st for SG Around The Green and 1st for Putting Average go a long way to explaining how that happened, and if he’s going to defend successfully here this week then it will be through a similar approach in all likelihood.

Despite the change in venue for this WGC this year, the one constant is the creativity required on the undulating putting surfaces and you can of course add Reed’s Augusta success to the list of comparable courses in that respect. Positive Jack Nicklaus course form in the shape of his 2014 Humana Challenge win ticks another box and 4 PGA Tour wins on Bermudagrass greens over the years offers further encouragement.

A low-key 66th place finish in Saudi Arabia on his last start is of little concern to me and Captain America will arrive here rested with many of his peers having toiled around Riviera for the past few days. RESULT: T9

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Tyrrell Hatton 2pts EW 22/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

4 wins in Tyrell Hatton’s last 22 starts globally and a career-high of 5th in the OWGR explains why the Englishman is now firmly entrenched at the top end of the bookies’ list each week, however that’s a fair reflection of his chances whenever he tees it up nowadays.

Let’s face facts: his Ryder Cup place isn’t in any doubt after securing his 4th Rolex Series career victory in Abu Dhabi last month. He can now play with the freedom that he deserves for the remainder of the year, while others toil over the remaining automatic places, allowing the 29 year-old to enjoy his golf. In fact, enjoyment might be the key phrase here from an increasingly assured and calm(er) player on the course whose next career target is surely to win a WGC or indeed a Major Championship.

After that Abu Dhabi success last month, 22nd in Dubai began with a disastrous round of 76 and Tyrrell of old may have thrown all of his toys out the pram at that point, however a 2nd round 64 briefly threatened to see him get back in the mix and goes a long way to demonstrate his growing maturity. 6th in Saudi in an excellent field was also encouraging and featured his third consecutive top-12 SG Tee-to-Green ranking and with a little rest and recuperation since then he can pick up where he left off here this week.

On the PGA Tour, Hatton is still at a disadvantage experience-wise most weeks, so this week’s new venue levels the playing field somewhat and a return to Florida, where he got his breakthrough win at this level last year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on TifEagle greens, has got to be a positive.

5th for Proximity to hole, 11th for SG Approach and 3rd for 3-putt avoidance are all useful season-long stats for this week in my view and with 5 Major top-10 finishes and 3 top-10s at this WGC in Mexico from his last 4 attempts, another contending performance may well be on the cards this week. RESULT: T22

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Cameron Smith 1pt EW 60/1 (5EW, 1/4) with bet365

A 15-under total at The Masters in November for Cameron Smith would have been good enough to win all but 5 of the event’s 84 editions over the years, however the Australian was unlucky enough to run into an inspired Dustin Johnson who lapped the field in the end. 4 rounds in the 60s was a Masters record though and Smith was understandably pleased with his performance. “I’d take 15 under around here the rest of my career and I might win a couple,” was his summary, and I’d suggest that he might win more than a couple at that rate, should he ever repeat the feat.

Not that his performance that week should have been a complete shock of course, having finished 5th at Augusta in 2018 and coming off of a 4th place finish at the Zozo Championship on his previous start, and the 27 year-old is fast becoming a backable option in elite company. Last week was another case in point, where a solid final round of 67 pushed him into a tie for 4th place overall and with this week’s field taking another step forward in terms of strength, he’s remained at a backable price despite that notable effort.

You can add 4th at the 2015 US Open, 5th at the WGC Match Play in 2018 and 6th in this corresponding fixture in 2019 at the WGC Mexico Championship for more elite-level performances from Smith, however what I like most is that his best performances – and victories – have tended to come in short, sharp bursts of form which makes last week’s effort even more intriguing.

Cameron’s breakthrough win on the European Tour at the Australian PGA Championship in 2017 came after finishing 4th the week before at the Australian Open. Back-to-back 3rd place finishes in the FedEx Cup Playoffs is further high-quality evidence from the latter end of 2018, before he defended his aforementioned Australian PGA after finishing 10th the week before, again at the Australian Open.

His maiden PGA Tour victory came last year at the Sony Open in Hawaii, having finished 10th on his previous start, and I’ve already mentioned that his Augusta effort come off the back of a 4th place finish on his prior outing. When he’s hot, he’s hot.

The thing with Cam is that his touch on and around the greens is superb, so when he finds something in his long game he’s very dangerous. 13th for SG Off The Tee, 10th for SG Approach and 2nd for SG Tee to Green last week at Riviera tells us everything we need to know and I think he has a strong chance here this week, despite residing a little further down the betting. RESULT: T11

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Christiaan Bezuidenhout 1pt EW 125/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

With such a high-class field, if one of the longer-priced players is to make the frame and potentially reward each-way backers then they’re going to need to be pretty special. Of those in attendance this week, one who I think will continue to progress this year after an outstanding 2020 is Christiaan Bezuidenhout and he has the touch on and around the greens to outperform his odds.

One of the South African’s immediate goals is to make it onto the PGA Tour full time, and save for the pandemic causing last year’s Players Championship to be cancelled after just 18 holes he may have already achieved that milestone. Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise though as the hole left in the schedule last year allowed Christiaan and his coach the time to get back to basics and work on his long game, an area of his game that was sometimes the weak link in an otherwise outstanding game.

The results were clear to see – 2 late-season wins on the European Tour saw his ball-striking reach dizzy new heights, with his 5-shot win at the South African Open seeing him rank 1st for SG Approach and 2nd for SG Tee-To-Green. Coupled with his success the previous week at Leopard Creek, where he ranked 2nd for SG Putting on the new Bermuda greens, that made it a total of 4 global wins in 33 starts at the time.

12th, 22nd and 53rd in the Middle East to start his year showed some promise without seriously threatening another win, however with this week’s WGC is a bigger prize in the context of his career and the 26 year-old now knows that he’s capable of competing with the best players in the game.

29th in this corresponding WGC in Mexico 12 months ago was a fair effort seeing as he’d flown directly from South Africa following a win at the Dimension Data Pro Am, and in his 2 other WGC starts he’s sat in 10th place heading into the final day on both occasions, most recently at the WGC St Jude Invitational last summer. As with Hatton, this week’s venue presents Bezuidenhout with less of a disadvantage than more established tracks on the circuit and if he can keep his long game improvement going and produce some of his best stuff on and around the greens, he could be a serious dark horse here. RESULT: T32

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 15:00GMT 22.2.21 but naturally subject to fluctuation.