The tournament this week is a limited field, no-cut World Golf Championship event with a field that should round out at 72 players (there are alternates in case someone withdraws). This event used to be named the WGC-Cadillac, then was moved to WGC-Mexico but has been moved back to Florida for this season and will be played at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida—which is just South of Tampa.
Since this is a WGC event, the prize purse is also larger than normal and the field is mainly limited to only elite PGA TOUR/Euro players, and a few special international qualifiers. A few top names have skipped this event in 2021 with Tiger Woods, Paul Casey and Brandon Stone all sitting this week despite qualifying. There are still plenty of big names attached here though as all of the top 10 players in the world will be in attendance. In fact, out of the top 25 players, Paul Casey is the only one not playing. Last year’s winner here, Patrick Reed, has already collected a win in 2020 but he’s now won this event twice (once as WGC-Cadillac at Doral) and once as WGC-Mexico last year.
The Concession Golf Club
Par 72, 7,474 yards; Greens: Bermuda, Designer: Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin
Concession is a Jack Nicklaus designed course that fits in snuggly in South West Florida among some trees and other natural settings. The venue is listed as a par 72 and should play that way this week. Its length suggests that even though it features four par 5s, it may not be an instant pushover for the pros, and the layout and scorecard seems to support that fact. Concession’s four par 5s all play well over 550 yards and the hardest handicap hole on the course also happens to be its par 5 seventh hole which is listed at 606 yards.
On first glance the venue reminds me of an evil hybrid between two other Florida stops in Copperhead (home of the Valspar) and PGA National (home of the Honda Classic). Water comes into play on 12 of the holes at Concession, forcing several tough approaches/drives which could mimic some of the approaches we see at PGA National every season. But there’s also long-winding par 4s and 5s that have fairways guarded by both trees and water and they definitely mimic Copperhead’s (Valspar) layout in many ways. In any case this venue looks like a classic PGA TOUR Florida layout where solid tee to green play will be needed and where a great driving week could be the difference maker due to the overall length of the course—and the four par 5s where the bigger hitters will be sure to have an advantage.
While Concession does carry five par 4s that measure between 400-450 yards (the most popular range), the par 5s are longer than normal and three of the par 3s also measure in at over 210 yards as well. When you add in the fact that the venue has smaller than average Bermuda greens, lots of challenging drives and some expansive bunkering around many of the holes, any kind of wind could cause this one to turn into a huge test of attrition. I’d target players with good ability off the tee and who are trending well tee to green, but also solid scramblers as it feels like GIR%’s won’t be very high this week.
2021 Weather Outlook: We move across the country this week so a big shift in weather can be expected here. Florida can give us rain and some tough conditions around this time of year too but Concession’s Southern location has us in good shape for the week. Highs will be in the low 80s for all four days with nothing but sunshine in sight. The wind here will play at least somewhat of a factor though as it’s set to remain steady around 10-12 mph for most of the week, with mornings remaining slightly calmer than afternoons. While it doesn’t look like anything too crazy is on the menu here steady winds should give the venue at least a little more teeth and put even more of an emphasis on good tee to green play.
LAST 5 WINNERS
2020—Patrick Reed -18 (over Bryson DeChambeau -17)
2019—Dustin Johnson -21 (over Rory McIlroy -16)
2018—Phil Mickelson -16 (over Justin Thomas playoff)
2017—Dustin Johnson -14 (over Tommy Fleetwood -13)
2016 – Adam Scott -12 (over Bubba Watson -11)
Recent form of past winners has been terrific:
· Each of the past four winners at WGC-Mexico had already recorded a top five or better on the PGA TOUR—in the year of their win—before securing their win at this event.
2020 Winner: Patrick Reed at 18-under par
2020 lead-in form (T51-T6-MC-T2-T3)
· We have a new course in play this year so analyzing last year’s stats won’t help us much (or at all) but I included them here just to be consistent.
· Reed’s lead in form was similar to past winners in that he’d been in contention a couple of times already on the year and had landed himself a top-5 on the PGA TOUR already (at the TOC in Maui).
· Reed also had won before on the PGA TOUR (several times) and this event has never seen a first-time winner here in it’s 20+-year history.
· The majority of the winners of this WGC Championship had also won a WGC before as well (so this was not their first WGC win).
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
1. Dustin Johnson ($11,600, T8-win): Johnson is coming off another solid performance at The Genesis Invitational. While jet-lag or rust after a week-off affected some, Johnson got himself right back into contention and only a few wayward shots in the final round kept him from challenging last week. He’s won this week’s event three times previously and should set up well for the big open test that awaits at Concession.
2. Jon Rahm ($11,100, T5-T13-T7): Rahm has started to heat up again and gained +4.8 strokes on his approaches alone last week at The Genesis Invitational after gaining +5.4 in his prior start in Phoenix. Despite all his accolades, he still hasn’t won a WGC event so perhaps this event will have some extra meaning for him.
3. Tony Finau ($9,800, 2nd-T2): Finau was again the hard-luck loser at Riviera, losing out in a playoff to Max Homa after shooting a final round 64. It’s Finau’s second playoff loss in two years and this one hurts as he had a six-to-eight foot putt on the first playoff hole to win the event and put it inches short. He’s playing great but the potential for a one week setback looms after a heartbreaking loss.
4. Patrick Cantlay ($10,000, T15-T3-2nd): Cantlay continues to showcase some of the best form of his career as he posted a T15 finish on a week where many of the top players suffered poor weeks and MC’s. He ranks second in this field in SG: Total stats over the last six events and gained strokes everywhere but on the greens last week.
5. Will Zalatoris ($8,000, T15-T55-T17): Zalatoris deserves some kudos for bringing the same kind of consistency we saw from him at the end of 2020 into the new year. The 25-year-old ranks sixth in SG: Approaches now over the last 50 rounds and has only finished outside the top-20 twice in his last seven events. He competed well against a strong field last year at the US Open (T6) and looks like great value again here given the flat $8K price.
Cash Games: Just pay up for DJ
Dustin Johnson ($11,600) is simply the best player in the world right now and with a course like Concession that should emphasize driver and superior tee to green play, paying up for Dustin in cash games gives you great peace of mind. There’s also terrific value in the $8K range this week in this no-cut affair as the likes of Sungjae Im ($8,800) and Scottie Scheffler ($8,300) make for good value targets that you can pair with him. Im especially has a great FLA record and has looked strong to start 2021. Further down, the likes of Harris English ($7,500) and Ryan Palmer ($7,200) also look like great cash game plays based on recent form.
Tournaments: Bryson and Rory a nice “Bash Brother” GPP duo
I discuss the case for Rory McIlroy ($10,400) below and much of that argument can also flow over to Bryson DeChambeau ($9,900). Concession has some long par 5s and expansive fairways which should let the world’s two premier drivers of the golf ball grip and rip at will. Bryson looked much better in round two at Riviera so getting back on him here quickly seems smart. Further down, I also think there’s a solid case to target Jason Day ($7,800) again as he showed improvement with his approaches at Pebble and has played well in FLA during his career (wins at Bay Hill and Sawgrass). Day’s short game will surely come in handy too around this sand-filled course. Other potential GPP targets here include Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,100-see below), Louis Oosthuizen ($7,900) and Rafa Cabrera Bello ($6,600).
MY PICK: Rory McIlroy ($10,400)
There’s no doubt that some people are starting to get “Rory fatigue” as the Northern Irishman saw his ownership levels plummet in many DraftKings GPPs last week. Buying the dip on talented players has been fruitful of late though (see Brooks Koepka at the WMPO) and it’s easy to forget that it was just four starts ago that the four-time major winner was in the final group in a big event on the Euro Tour going into Sunday (he finished T3). Over his career, McIlroy has often saved his best stuff for Florida as he’s picked up three wins at three different venues (Sawgrass, Bay Hill and PGA National) with his last big PGA TOUR win coming at the PLAYERS in 2019.
Concession looks like a big expansive golf course with lots of water and longer par 5s where good power and accuracy off the tee will certainly be rewarded. Despite the missed cut last week, Rory ranks second in this field in SG: OTT stats over the last 50 rounds and has positive putting splits on Bermuda greens (the type used this week) for his career, gaining +11.9 strokes putting on Bermuda (total) vs. just +2.7 on Poa/Bentgrass. While he’s suffered from a bit of a mental block of late, don’t be shocked if the extra days off from his MC at Riviera lead to something great this week at Concession, where the locale and setup favor a quick bounce-back.
MY SLEEPER: Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,100)
This week will be the first time we get a look at Bezuidenhout (be-zay-den-hote) on the PGA TOUR in 2021 but the South African has kept busy over on the Euro Tour, making four starts there in 2021 already. He won twice in a row over in South Africa last December and posted top-20 finishes in two of his four starts so far in 2021. A great around the green player and putter, he’s now made 10+ starts against PGA TOUR or major championship level competition, and while the results haven’t jumped off the page, they are promising. He finished T18 last year at Bay Hill—another big, tough Florida based course—and also notched a T20 at last year’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude, his last WGC start.
While he’s not big off the tee, Bezuidenhout has improved his GIR and Driving Accuracy stats on the Euro Tour over the last season and has now shot under par in 12 of his 14 rounds. Given the experience he brings and his ability to dominate with the putter if it gets hot, he looks like a solid value here and a good GPP pivot for what could be a lower scoring fantasy week.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.
21+ (18+ NH). CO/IL/IN/IA/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/MI only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.