Collin Morikawa tees off on the 13th hole during the second round of the Genesis Invitational golf tournament at Riviera Country Club, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
- The first World Golf Championship event of the season takes place Thursday (Feb. 25th) at The Concession Golf Club, in Bradenton, FL
- Collin Morikawa gained 8.6 strokes ball striking last week, but lost 7.6 strokes on the greens
- Read below for analysis of the event and our favorite sleepers and longshot plays
The first World Golf Championship event of the season is here, as the best players from around the globe tee it up at the Concession Golf Club on Thursday (Feb. 25th).
Like any WGC tournament, the prize pool is gigantic, and the quality of field is a reflection of that. Paul Casey is the only top-20 player in the world missing from this event, which is significant given the following stat:
Over the last three years, only one player ranked outside the top-19 in the world rankings has won a WGC stroke play event, that being Phil Mickelson in Mexico in 2018.
2021 WGC Workday Championship Odds
|Golfer||Odds to Win||Top-10 Odds||Top-20 Odds|
Odds taken Feb. 22nd at DraftKings.
This course is a Jack Nicklaus design, but aside from that not much is known about the track from a professional competition standpoint. Bryson DeChambeau did win the 2015 NCAA Championship here, but with an outright price of +1850, the reigning US Open champ doesn’t qualify as a sleeper or longshot.
Morikawa’s Irons are Money
Speaking of reigning Major champions, there is a serious amount of shade being thrown by the books at Collin Morikawa this week. The PGA champ opened at +4650 to win the event, despite being one of the best ball strikers in the field.
12th hole: 3 feet.
13th hole: 2 feet.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 18, 2021
Morikawa gained 8.6 strokes with his ball striking last week at the Genesis, ranking second in strokes gained approach and fifth in tee-to-green in an incredibly strong field. With numbers like that, you’d expect him to be near the top of the leaderboard, but sadly his putting was atrocious.
The three-time winner on Tour lost 7.6 strokes putting, which is tough to do, and wound up finishing 43rd. The good news is that putting is a fickle beast, as he gained over 3 strokes on the greens in his previous start.
Collin Morikawa Strokes Gained Stats – Last 3 Events
What’s even more encouraging is that the ball striking has been elite all year. He’s gained at least 4.2 strokes on the field in all three of his 2021 starts, and won last year’s Workday Championship at Muirfield Village, another Nicklaus designed course.
Pick: Collin Morikawa to Win (+4650)
Fleetwood is Fire in Florida
Our next target is Tommy Fleetwood, who will be making his 2021 North American debut. He’s finished 26th or better in all three starts this year on the European Tour, highlighted by a 7th place finish in Abu Dhabi last month.
Most top-10 finishes in PGA Tour events without a win since 2017:
Tony Finau, 37
Beyong Hun An, 16
Kevin Streelman, 16
Tommy Fleetwood, 16
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) February 22, 2021
He’s shot 68 or better in seven of his 12 rounds in 2021 in Europe, and like Morikawa is an elite ball striker. He played only sparingly in America last year due to COVID, but in 2019 he gained strokes ball striking in 15 of the 17 measured tournaments he entered.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) December 9, 2020
Also working in his favor is his stellar track record in Florida. Over the course of his career, he’s placed inside the top-10 in six of nine career Florida starts, finishing 5th or better in three of his past four events in the state.
Pick: Tommy Fleetwood T-10 Finish (+350)
Last but not least is Justin Rose. The 10-time winner on Tour tied for second in his last start at the Saudi International, shooting 68 or better in each round, including a 65 on Sunday.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) October 12, 2018
Over the past 24 rounds he ranks 16th in this field in approach shots within 15 feet, and ninth in sand saves, two stats that could prove to be key this week.
He’s got as much experience as anyone at this tournament playing on Jack Nicklaus courses, and arguable the most success. Over his last eight appearances at the Memorial, Jack’s signature event at Muirfield Village, he’s posted five top-eight finishes, including a victory and a runner-up.
Pick: Justin Rose Top-20 Finish (+150)
Chris began his career at Hockey Night in Canada over 15 years ago. He has since worked at TSN for over 12 years as a writer, line-up producer, field producer, newsroom supervisor for Sportscentre, and presently as a promotions producer.