Given the alarming news of Tiger Woods’ car accident on Tuesday, it feels wrong to discuss anything else golf-related. But there will be golf this week, a WGC in fact, and our experts will be breaking it down just like we do every week.
This week will be tougher to handicap than others, as the event will be held at an entirely new tour venue—The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla. Course-history loyalists, who have had a nice run with Pebble and Riviera, won’t be able to lean on any past data.
So, what can we expect? Well, it is a WGC, so the field is stacked, and the best of the best usually win these events. Dustin Johnson is once again a heavy favorite, with Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas checking in right behind. The most fascinating play on the board might be Tony Finau, who is 20-1 at the William Hill Sportsbook fresh off another near-miss at Riviera. That’s some solid value for a guy who seems to be very close, but can you trust him to finally get it done?
Others to watch include Daniel Berger, who took a week off after his Pebble win, as well as Patrick Reed, who we haven’t seen on the PGA Tour since his Farmers Insurance Open victory. Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose will also be making their 2021 PGA Tour debut.
Our expert panel—including an anonymous tour caddie, data scientists Rick Gehman (RickRunGood.com); Pat Mayo (Fantasy National, DraftKings and Mayo Media Network); Brandon Gdula (numberFire and FanDuel); and Lee Alldrick (FanShareSports.com)—has correctly predicted two of the past three winners. We look to make it another profitable week at Concession—read on for our picks.
WGC-Workday at Concession 2021 experts picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions (Odds from William Hill)
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Dustin Johnson (+650) — He’s playing insanely good golf, and frankly this price isn’t too intimidating. His short game’s been so good recently, and I think that’s going to be a huge key at Concession.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Justin Thomas (18-1) — Always buy the dip on JT. The last three times he dropped strokes to the field in an event, he followed it up with a top-six finish in his next start. Now at a course which could potentially over emphasize wedge play, it seems like a perfect place to challenge for a win. And no-cut events are a speciality for JT—of his 13 career wins, eight have come in tournaments with no cut with another two of those victories coming in playoff events with a limited field, like this week's 72-man field.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Bryson DeChambeau (20-1) — I’m going back to Bryson after the missed cut for a few key reasons: A) Two rounds shouldn’t change our opinion of a golfer substantially. B) Bryson has— as you've probably heard—experience at Concession, winning the NCAA championship here. And C) He putts really well on Bermuda. Bryson’s length might be mitigated a little here with the par 5s being so long, but it’s a good number based on his long-term form.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Viktor Hovland (20-1) — Hovland very quietly finished T-5 last week and was dynamite with his ball-striking (again!). Hovland led the field in strokes gained/off the tee last week and was 13th on approach. It was only six starts ago that Hovland won in Mayakoba, and he’s racked up an additional four top-six finishes since. He’s contending all over the globe and will now head to a course where few golfers are familiar and will demand precision ball-striking.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Jon Rahm (10-1) — Just like last week, I think there’s a little value with Rahm being in double-digit odds. Especially so in a much shorter field. Rahm fought hard on the weekend at Riviera to finish T-5, including an impressive final-round 66. Remember his win at Memorial last year? That came after a stellar final round (a 64) the previous week. And that was also at a Nicklaus course. Rahm’s short game, his driving prowess and overall game make me believe he’s a good bet even at this short price.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Bryson DeChambeau (20-1) — Yes, he hosed me last week with a MC, but that’s always in play with the way Bryson attacks golf courses. When his misses are as big as they were at Riviera, he’s going to make some big numbers. That won’t deter me this week at Concession, where his vibes will be good after his NCAA title. I fully expect a bounce-back week. At Riv, he lost strokes off the tee for the first time in 22 starts. I don’t envision that happening again.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jon Rahm (10-1) — According to Fantasy National, Rahm comes into this event ranked third for Opportunities Gained over the past two months and first for strokes-gained/tee to green over the same period. His strong all-around game ranks him 11th in FanShare's course-suitability ranking.
Recent results: Golf Digest's betting panel is HOT once again. After going up 225.30 units last season, we have now correctly predicted two of the past three winners—from two of our experts each week. Rick Gehman and Brandon Gdula each called Daniel Berger’s win at Pebble Beach, and Pat Mayo and Christopher Powers each nailed Brooks Koepka’s win in Phoenix. Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!
We break down the WGC-Workday Championship, the Puerto Rico Open and react to the Tiger Woods news on this week's episode of "Be Right." Make sure to download this week's episode (above) wherever you get your podcasts.
WGC-Workday at Concession 2021 experts picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win (odds from William Hill)
Caddie: Scottie Scheffler (40-1) — The youngin’ struggled in his first couple of events of 2021 after an equipment change, but he’s been very good since. He’s popped on the leader board at TPC Scottsdale and Riviera, both very different courses, which tells me his game is in a great spot. Over the past eight rounds, Scheffler has gained strokes in every major category, and he is top 25 in this field across every major stat. Maybe a smaller field will be his time to earn that first win.
Mayo: Collin Morikawa (35-1) — There are no real dark horses in this field. WGCs have been dominated by the top-20 players in the world, so finding the one with the deepest odds is the move. And that’s Morikawa. No player in the world is hotter than Morikawa with his irons at the moment. The results last week cover it up, but Morikawa was second in the field on approach, following up leading the field in his start previous at the Sony Open. The putting is worrisome, but losing over six strokes in the final round at Riviera makes it look worse than it is.
Gdula: Matthew Fitzpatrick (50-1) — Fitzpatrick tends to play best at tougher courses, and we could get that this week with the unknowns raising some uncertainty. Fitzpatrick’s elite short game could be the differentiator if the course plays that way, and the menacing greens could lead to that being the key after all. He’s the best Bermuda putter in the field over the past 100 rounds, via FantasyNational.
Gehman: Carlos Ortiz (90-1) — Ortiz missed the cut at Riviera last week, but it was a cold putter that led to that result. He lost 3.23 strokes putting in two rounds, which is one of his worst putting weeks of his career. He’s been a positive putter this season, so there’s reason to believe his flatstick will bounce back. Since his victory at the Houston Open, he’s earned three more top-15 finishes, including a T-4 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sungjae Im (33-1) — I’ve made one of my biggest golf bets on Sungjae winning this week. I found him at 45-1 at another book and put some serious weight (for me) on it. We’re on a Bermuda course, where he thrives. His win at PGA National came on a Nicklaus course. We’ve seen his game pop in spurts this year—he led in AMEX before fading. And he made a charge on Sunday at Torrey before fading. I think a well-rested Sungjae is just a steal at 45-1, and I’d bet it at 33-1, too. It’s a matter of time before he earns victory No. 2.
Powers, Golf Digest: Sungjae Im (33-1) — If you can believe it, Sungjae has actually had two weeks off, rare for a guy who seemingly doesn’t miss a PGA Tour event. He should be well rested, and he’s coming off a T-17 at the WMPO, where he lost almost three strokes on approach and still picked up his fourth top 20 in his past seven starts. As we know, he loves Bermuda greens and he loves Florida, particularly big boy Florida courses like Bay Hill and PGA National, the latter of which, like Concession, is a Jack Nicklaus design.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Justin Rose (55-1) — Rose’s solid approach game from long distance means he should be very well suited to this course. We have him ranked 16th in FanShare's course-suitability ranking this week. It’s also a good sign when ‘poor form’ is actually seven made cuts in his past eight events, and his last finish was a second-place finish at a hotly contested Saudi International.
WGC-Workday at Concession 2021 experts picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Rory McIlroy (16-1) — Rory’s short game and putting have been abysmal over the past couple of events—he’s 56th in SG/short game and 60th in SG/putting in his past eight rounds (across three tourneys). Those categories will be big this week, so he’s the guy I’d rule out at the top.
Mayo: Dustin Johnson (+650) — Another week where DJ is the rightful favorite, but at relatively unbettable odds. Does DJ win this event once every five or six times? No. He doesn’t. Not against this competition.
Gdula: Dustin Johnson (+650) — Johnson just isn’t a good value according to my win simulation model at this number. We have countless other options at the top in such a deep field, and in order to load up a card with multiple realistic win options (just look at the past WGC winners; they’re all studs), I’ll have to start it in the Xander Schauffele (+1600) or DeChambeau range, realistically. I’m fine missing out on 6-1 for DJ.
Gehman: Matthew Wolff (90-1) — It’s really concerning when a golfer “loses” his best weapon, and that is what we are seeing from Wolff right now. Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, he’s lost 12.89 strokes with his driver over his past six measured events. To put that into perspective, he gained a total of 16.68 strokes in the six measured events prior to that stretch.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Rory McIlroy (16-1) — Rory can overcome short-game woes at other courses, but perhaps not here, which seems like it should favor players whose short games are in a better place right now. It'll come for Rory, but I don't think this is the week, so I’ll fade him in matchups against guys like Xander or Cantlay.
Powers, Golf Digest: Rory McIlroy (16-1) — I bet we get a much better effort from Rory this week after that ugly outing at Riviera, but I’m still not ready to put my money on him, even at 16-1, a very juicy number for him.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Justin Thomas (18-1) — It seems the reaction to Thomas’ recent discretion has affected him more than he would like. He has missed two cuts in his last four so his form is questionable. He is also not a very good putter on Bermuda greens, ranking just 40th of the 71 players in the field this week.
WGC-Workday at Concession 2021 experts picks: Matchups
Caddie: Patrick Reed (+120) over Rory McIlroy (DraftKings) — Reed won in his last start on the PGA Tour, and short game is his strength. This is a no-brainer at plus-money.
Mayo: Kevin Na (-106) over Bubba Watson (DraftKings) — Since three of the par 5s may not be reachable in two, even for Bubba, give me the superior wedge player and putter.
Gdula: Joaquin Niemann (-118) over Collin Morikawa (FanDuel) — Matchups are super tight this week, and I don’t mind going back to Morikawa overall—he finished fifth in strokes gained/tee to green last week—but his putter failed him miserably after he swapped to a new grip. With that amount of uncertainty and with Niemann’s ball-striking on point, I’ll just look here for a head-to-head.
Gehman: Lanto Griffin (-114) over Brendon Todd (DraftKings) — Griffin has been solid for the past year but is really starting to pump out results more recently. He enters this week coming off a T-26 at Riviera and a T-7 at Torrey. We have a handful of small-field no-cut events on the PGA Tour, with the CJ Cup and the ZOZO falling into that category. Griffin finished T-7 and T-11 in those events at the end of 2020. He doesn’t back down from strong fields and difficult golf courses.
Hennessey: Xander Schauffele (-125) over Rory McIlroy (William Hill) — I’ll put my money where my mouth is after my fade write-up. I think Xander contends this week, and Rory’s short game will hold him back at a course that will really emphasize that.
Powers: Bryson DeChambeau (-120) over Webb Simpson (DraftKings) — Feels like there is a little bit of value in Bryson here coming off the missed cut. Webb’s coming off a poor performance at the WMPO himself. If Bryson had a good week at Riviera, this might be closer to -140/-150.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Sungjae Im (-118) over Joaquin Niemann (Unibet) — I am high on Im this week. Niemann on the other hand really struggles to putt on Bermuda greens. Im statistically gains 0.6 shots on Niemann, per round, when putting on Bermuda greens. That’s a 2.4 shot head start over the four rounds they’ll play this week.
Matchup results from the Genesis: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Cameron Davis (+110) over Bubba Watson); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Collin Morikawa (+106) over Hideki Matsuyama; Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Joaquin Niemann (+100) over Bubba Watson); Caddie, Gdula, Powers, Alldrick: 0 for 1.
Matchup Results this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Alldrick: 14-5-0 (up 7.67 units); Hennessey: 11-6-1 (up 4.11 units); Gdula: 10-9-0 (up 0.14 units); Powers: 7-8-4 (down 1.43 units); Mayo: 8-10-1 (down 2.46 units); Caddie: 5-12-2 (down 6.08 units); Gehman: 6-11-2 (down 4.18 units).
WGC-Workday at Concession 2021 experts picks: Top 10 (odds from William Hill)
Caddie: Matthew Fitzpatrick (+400) — I really liked what I saw last week at Riviera. Fitz plays his best at tough courses, and if the wind picks up at Concession, pars can be very good scores. This feels like a discounted price after his success at Riviera—I don’t care that he struggled on Sunday. I cashed this bet last week; let's go back to the well.
Mayo: Gary Woodland (+1000) — Woodland missed the cut at Riviera, but there was one very specific reason for that: putting. Losing eight strokes in two rounds is challenging, even for the world’s worst putters. Good news for us: That overshadowed how good his ball-striking actually was. He missed the cut and still finished fourth among all players off the tee. Keep that up, and I’ll take my chances on the greens.
Gdula: Harris English (+400) — English ranks above the field average in adjusted strokes gained across all four areas in my database over the past calendar year, as he's in the 87th-percentile-or-better in putting and around-the-green play. He’s great on Bermuda and finished 13th at Memorial if we are into the Nicklaus-design corollary.
Gehman: Tommy Fleetwood (+333) — Fleetwood certainly enters the week under the radar considering we haven’t seen him play in the United States since November. He has been active on the European Tour, however, playing four times since his last American start. His worst finish was a T-26 in Saudi Arabia at the event won by Dustin Johnson. He’s earned a top 10 in half of those events with his best result coming in Abu Dhabi (T-7).
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Webb Simpson (+250) — Webb continues to not get the respect like his peers do, but he’s been one of the most consistent players in the world over the past two years. And he wins. I’m betting Webb to win this week, and I’ll back that up with a top-10 bet. He loves Bermuda and he’ll keep himself out of trouble at this tricky layout. And his short game is one of the best. Like Sungjae, Webb is also well-rested … so I think this bet has value.
Powers, Golf Digest: Andy Sullivan (+1100) — Went the easy route with Tony Finau last week, which affords me the opportunity to get a little ambitious again and roll with the Englishman here. Sullivan wrote a great player blog for the Euro Tour last month, and in it he mentioned a major attitude adjustment he’s made and talked about how hard he’s been working recently. It’s paid off in the form of a victory and three other top 10s in his past 14 worldwide starts. During that time he’s gone from 91st to 56th in the world, and his goal is to get back to his highest OWGR point (28th) and back on the Ryder Cup team. A strong week at a WGC would go a long way in helping him accomplish both those goals.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Sungjae Im (+300) — Im’s strong off-the-tee game means he ranks third in our course-suitability ranking this week. A par 71 longer than most par 72s means you are going to have to hit driver well this week. Im comes into this event ranked 15th for SG/tee to green over the past two months and eighth for putting on Bermuda greens over the past two years.
Top-10 results from the Genesis: Caddie: 1 for 1 (Matthew Fitzpatrick, +650); Powers: 1 for 1 (Tony Finau, +200); Everybody else: 0 for 1.
Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 6 for 19 (up 19.1 units); Powers: 2 for 19 (down 2 units); Mayo: 2 for 19 (down 4 units); Tour caddie: 3 for 19 (down 6.45 units); Hennessey: 1 for 19 (down 15 units); Alldrick: 0 for 18 (down 18 units); Gdula: 0 for 19 (down 19 units).
One and Done pick
Gehman: Tyrrell Hatton — I expect Hatton to fly under the radar in One and Dones, without a PGA Tour start since November. However, he’s been playing on the European Tour and stacking cash along the way. His win in Abu Dhabi was followed by a T-22 in Dubai and a T-6 in Saudi Arabia. Hatton doesn’t have a natural one-and-done fit, but his win at last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational proves that he can topple a deep field on a difficult course.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy. Sanderson: Sebastian Munoz. Shriners: Matthew Wolff. CJ Cup: Xander Schauffele. Zozo: Bubba Watson. Bermuda: Rasmus Hojgaard. Houston: Lanto Griffin. Masters: Rory McIlroy. RSM: Webb Simpson. Sentry TOC: Patrick Reed. Sony: Abraham Ancer. AMEX: Patrick Cantlay. Torrey: Jon Rahm. Waste Management: Webb Simpson. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis Invitational: Rory McIlroy
Hennessey: Xander Schauffele — It’s tough burning Xander in a non-major, but I know I’m saving Jon Rahm for the U.S. Open, so I’ll burn Xander here. He’d be my second bet I’d make. He’s so dang consistent and has won in these non-cut, big-time fields before. He’s on the precipice of winning—he should at least be a factor here on the weekend.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Harris English. CJ Cup: Kevin Na. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Doc Redman. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Tyrrell Hatton. RSM: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Justin Thomas. Sony: Ryan Palmer. AMEX: Scottie Scheffler. Torrey: Sungjae Im. Waste Management: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach: Francesco Molinari. Genesis Invitational: Tony Finau.
Powers: Tyrrell Hatton — Other than Dustin Johnson, I’m not sure anyone has had a better last 12 months than Hatton. He’s showed no signs of slowing down as of late either, with a T-6 at Saudi and a win in Abu Dhabi. Unless you’re saving him for the Open Championship later this summer, this is a great spot to utilize him.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Jason Kokrak. CJ Cup: Daniel Berger. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Bubba Watson. RSM: Brian Harman. Mayakoba: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Harris English. Sony: Zach Johnson. AMEX: Matthew Wolff. Torrey: Tony Finau. Waste Management: Sungjae Im. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis: Hideki Matsuyama.
By The Numbers:
Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:
12 — The number of holes that water is in play at The Concession. That’s one of the highest numbers on the PGA Tour schedule behind TPC Sawgrass and PGA National.
5.81 —The number of strokes lost by Justin Thomas on the putting greens at Riviera last week. It’s his worst two-round total at any event since the start of 2015.
0.86 — The average strokes gained/putting per round for Matthew Fitzpatrick on Bermudagrass greens. It’s the best number on tour since 2015, with at least 50 rounds.
7.55 — The number of strokes lost by Collin Morikawa on the putting greens at Riviera last week. That’s the third worst total of his career and comes as he debuted a new putting grip.
We break down the WGC-Workday Championship, the Puerto Rico Open and react to the Tiger Woods news on this week's episode of "Be Right." Make sure to download this week's episode (above) wherever you get your podcasts.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.