By News Team
23rd February 2021
With Augusta only six weeks away, the Players Championship at Sawgrass in a fortnight and one of the finishes of the year so far at Riviera last weekend, the PGA Tour season is very much in full swing. If we hadn’t had enough entertainment so far, the first World Golf Championship is upon us as a new venue – The Concession – hosts the WGC-Workday Championship.
As is expected at these World Golf Championship events, an elite field of 72 players is teeing it up in Florida, with Tiger Woods and Paul Casey the notable absentees. A new course always throws up an added level of intrigue, but as has become customary over the past few months, it’s the head of the market where the champion is predicted to come from.
Favourites worth taking on
No-one can argue with how the market for this week’s event has shaped up with world number one, Dustin Johnson, the favourite at 13/2. The world’s best player cruised into contention at Riviera and looked a real danger ahead of the final round, but he played the final 23 holes in one-over and that, along with a new course, are big enough reasons to leave him off here.
Jon Rahm (10/1) is bubbling under the surface and is yet to finish worse than a tie for 13th in his four starts on the PGA Tour in 2021. However, he admitted that he’s still getting to grips with his new Callaway equipment and you just feel he might need a month or so more before he feels truly comfortable with his new clubs.
Time is right for Hatton
Rory McIlroy (16/1) and Justin Thomas (18/1) will tempt a few, but they were both woefully out of sorts at Riviera and although both have bounced back to form dramatically previously, other players are playing much better at the moment – namely TYRRELL HATTON, and the world number five gets the headline vote here at 20/1.
It’s pretty fair to say that had you asked the majority of golf fans a year or so ago would Hatton be a top-five player in the world, few of them would have agreed with you. However, having been ranked 31st ahead of this event last year, when played in Mexico, the Englishman has shot up the rankings in very impressive fashion. He’s won three times since and it’s not like he’s been clearing up at lower key tournaments either. He’s beat stellar fields at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, while he won the BMW PGA Championship by four shots at Wentworth too.
Add the Turkish Airlines Open he won at the backend of 2019 and Hatton has won four of his last 22 worldwide starts, so in actual fact it’s no real surprise to see him ranked where he is now. His win in Abu Dhabi earlier this year has all but guaranteed him a spot in the European Ryder Cup team and with that now sorted, he can concentrate on the next step in his career – a WGC or Major win.
It’s of course a bit of an unknown that he’s never played The Concession, but neither have the bulk of the field this week and given Hatton’s still relatively new to the PGA Tour, playing a course for the first time certainly won’t be a new thing. To further his case, it’s not like he hasn’t played well at courses he’s never played before either. He finished in a tie for fourth at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last season, while he’s already come seventh at the Houston Open and tied for third at the CJ Cup this campaign, all of which came on his first appearance.
He finished in the top 10 three times when this tournament was played in Mexico and everything points to him doing so once again, albeit in a different country.
Oosthuizen and Korak could go well
Although Hatton looks the best bet this week, both LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN and JASON KOKRAK could also go well at big prices.
Oosthuizen (60/1), who is still yet to win on the PGA Tour, bar his Open win in 2010, appears to be slowly coming into form again. He didn’t play too badly to finish in a tie for 29th at Torrey Pines and was bang in contention mid-way through the final round in Phoenix before he faded away. All reports suggest putting will be key this week and the South African ranks 11th in that category so far this season. The course appears to be quite similar to Innisbrook and given his solid record there, this course might suit his eye.
Kokrak, meanwhile, seems close to putting it all together, but at the moment he can’t quite put four rounds together. He played well for the first two days at Riviera but back-to-back rounds of 74 dropped him down the leaderboard and that was a similar theme at Torrey Pines. Like Oosthuizen, he’s highly ranked for putting (10th) and that could serve him well here at 90/1.