The Florida Swing begins this week with the WGC-Workday Championship at the Concession Golf Club. This is the Concession’s first time as a PGA Tour venue (or as a European Tour venue, for that matter), but in 2015 the club hosted the NCAA Championship, won by Bryson DeChambeau.
The Concession is renowned for its toughness, and it should be an excellent test for the best players in the world. That said, setup and weather will determine scoring. Depending on tees, pins, green speeds, or wind, anywhere from -20 to -4 could win.
A par 72 that can play between 7,400 and 7,600 yards from the tips, the Concession has four par 5s, which will give an edge to longer hitters who can get home in two, and four long par 3s, which will offer an advantage to strong long-iron players. Off the tee, players will be faced with plenty of water and bunkers. Big hitters will be able to take some of this trouble out of play. The greens are fast, relatively small, and extremely undulating. Like smaller versions of the greens at Augusta National, many of them have multiple quadrants. If your iron shot finds the correct quadrant, you’ll have a good look at birdie. If you miss, you’ll have either a difficult two-putt or a testy up-and-down from a shaved runoff or a green-side bunker.
So the important skills this week will be above-average length off the tee, precise long-iron play, and a deft touch around the greens. Here are some players who fit that profile:
Harris English $7,500
English has missed his last two cuts—hence the reduced price—but let’s look at the bigger picture. He won the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the beginning of the year. Overall, he has been incredibly consistent over the past nine months, finishing inside the top 20 in 14 of 22 events. In the Concession, he will find a course that is all Bermuda, the grass type he is most comfortable with. English ranks fifth in long irons, seventh in putting, eighth around the greens, and ninth in birdies. At $7,500, he makes for a very solid play at the WGC-Workday Championship.
Abraham Ancer $6,800
For the 28th-ranked player in the world, $6,800 is $1,000 too cheap. Part of the reason for the reduced price is that Abe Ancer, like Harris English, missed his most recent cut. But again, let’s dig a bit deeper. Last week, Ancer had travel issues, arriving late to Riviera because of the weather and power issues at his home in Texas. He should be much better prepared this week. The missed cut at Riviera was only his third MC in the past 17 months. Over the course of a guaranteed four rounds at the Concession, I expect Ancer to finish in the top half of the field, which would more than pay off his $6,800 salary.
If you have him available, Rahm should be your top pick this week. He has eight top-seven finishes in his past 11 starts, and he is the No. 1 player in my model, ranking first in long-iron proximity, fifth off the tee, sixth around the green, ninth in approach, and ninth in driving distance. Rahm is also probably more familiar with the Concession than anyone else in the field, having played the course over 25 times. This experience may be worth a few shots this week.
Even though he won in his most recent start at Pebble Beach, Berger comes into the WGC-Workday Championship oddly under the radar. He has finished inside the top 30 in 17 of his past 20 events, most of which were full-field events. Plus, the Concession should suit his game well, as he ranks ninth in putting, 13th in approach, and 15th off the tee.