For the first time this season the PGA Tour leaves the West Coast and heads to Florida, and it is making the coast-to-coast trek earlier than usual. This tournament typically takes place in Mexico. But because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Tour was forced to make a schedule adjustment. The event will be played at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida, marking the first time the course will host a PGA event. Each of the top 15 golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings will be in the field this week, which sets up for another exciting week of golf. Being a WGC event, the field only consists of 72 golfers and the event will not feature a cut before the weekend.
It has a similar layout to other Nicklaus courses, featuring small greens and tricky hole locations. With limited course knowledge it is worth looking at past World Golf Classic winners, and they have been primarily guys at the top of the odds board. Since 2016, no one has won a WGC event at longer than 60-1 odds, and half of the winners were at 15-1 odds or lower.
Once again at the top of the odds board is world No.1 Dustin Johnson (+650) who is fresh off a disappointing Sunday at the Genesis Invitational that opened the door for hometown kid Max Homa to collect his second Tour victory. Following Dustin Johnson is Jon Rahm (+1000), Rory Mcllroy (+1600), Xander Schauffele (+1600), Justin Thomas (+1800), and Patrick Cantlay (+1800).
The first World Golf Championship of the season brings out the best. 💪
Power Rankings for the @WGCWorkday.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 23, 2021
Cantlay does not usually play the Florida swing of the schedule, excluding the Players Championship. The last Florida event he played in other than the Players was the 2017 Valspar Championship, where he finished second. Cantlay was in the thick of things last weekend before a rough final 24 holes that saw him fall out of the top 10 altogether. He ultimately placed 15th place, marking his worst finish of the season. The fact that a top-15 finish is his worst of the season actually is further evidence that he is playing some of the best golf of his career at the moment.
Following Cantlay is Bryson Dechambeau (+2000), Tyrell Hatton (+2000), and last week’s playoff loser, Tony Finau (+2000). The next man on the odds board is worth a bet is Viktor Hovland (+2200). Hovland rode a strong weekend at the Genesis to collect a fifth-place finish, marking his fifth top-6 finish in his last six events on the PGA and European Tour combined. Hovland will not be fazed by the big names he shares the leaderboard with, making him worth a bet at this price.
Best Value Plays
The middle tier is loaded with great golfers that include Brooks Koepka (+2500), Patrick Reed (+2800), Webb Simpson (+2800), Daniel Berger (+2800) and Collin Morikawa (+3300). The first bet to make in this odds range, however, is Sungjae Im (+3300). Im has had an immense amount of success in Florida over the past two years, collecting four top-five finishes in the state.
Im picked up a win in the 2020 Honda Classic, further illustrating his dominance in Florida and making him worth a play at these odds. Another name to look at in this area of the odds board is Scottie Scheffler (+4000), who has collected three top-20s in his five starts this season.
While the other two his outings ended in missed cuts, his last two events were a seventh-place finish at the Waste Management Open and a 20th at the Genesis Invitational. Scheffler closed out with a 66 last Sunday, showing great form with his irons. Strong iron play will prove helpful at the Concession Golf Club as golfers must adjust to hitting the small greens with pinpoint accuracy. Scheffler sits at +300 to finish inside the top 10. With the reduced field, this number is too high not to take Scheffler for a top-10 finish.
The field is loaded with talented golfers, as is any WGC event. However, with it being the first time many of these golfers have seen this course, it could actually set up for a longshot to finally steal a WGC crown. The more prudent gambling play, on other hand, is to look at this section of the odds board for longshots to finish inside the top 10.
The first name that jumps out to have a strong chance of doing that is Thomas Detry (+20000). Detry plays primarily on the European Tour and collected a top-10 finish in Dubai at the Saudi Invitational.
Detry participated in those aforementioned 2015 NCAA Championships at the Concession Golf Club, where he collected a third-place finish, two shots behind eventual winner DeChambeau. At 10-1 to earn a top ten finish this, Detry is worth a bet due to having seen this course previously and because of his ability to get hot with his irons.
Matchup Play of the Week
The matchup play for this week is Joaquin Niemann over Homa (-150). Niemann was tied for second entering the weekend at the Genesis before carding a disappointing 78 in the third round that derailed his chances to compete for the win on Sunday. Homa is coming off the playoff win over Finau that enabled him to claim his second PGA Tour victory.
Feel free to lay the stroke and a half and take Niemann to beat Homa this week when sportsbooks release those lines.