The Concession Golf Club provided a wide variety of scores in Round 1 of the WGC-Workday Championship on Thursday afternoon to kick off the PGA Tour's Florida swing. Matthew Fitzpatrick and Webb Simpson shot 66. Matthew Wolff shot 83. Dustin Johnson made two doubles. Brooks Koepka took it deep into the 60s. Bryson DeChambeau flirted with 80 for a while.
It was a wild day at a golf course that proved it can separate golfers who are striking it well from those who are, uh, not. Fitzpatrick and Simpson are perhaps a pair of unlikely co-leaders with par 5s so important this week and a track that can play around 7,500 yards. However, they made just one combined bogey on a course that was handing out doubles and triples like they made Oprah's Christmas list (there were 43 double bogeys or worse from a field of just 72).
Following a tough week at Riviera Country Club, it was fun to watch a different kind of struggle at The Concession (much of the time with the water). It was also enlightening that if the wind blows this weekend, things could get a little wild for the best players in the world. Let's take a look at who was the best in this tournament in Round 1 and what to expect going into the next three days.
T1. Matthew Fitzpatrick, Webb Simpson (-6): I ... did not see this coming. Two of the shorter hitters among top-50 players, and they were both awesome on Thursday in Round 1. Neither was great off the tee, which is to be expected, but both were lights out from the fairway in. Simpson was the only player in the top 18 on the leaderboard who lost strokes off the tee, and he's winning the golf tournament, which is incredible. I would say I'm not huge on the staying power here, but it might be time to re-evaluate the type of player who's going to thrive at The Concession this weekend.
T3. Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Billy Horschel (-5): Koepka, I did expect to play well. This is a big-boy, Koepka-like track. A large ballpark that requires some good touch with your wedges around the greens. Koepka took advantage of the par 5s (he played them in 3 under) and got a 35-footer to go late to sneak into that top three. The putter was hot for the most part on Thursday, but he's going to be a problem all weekend.
T6. Wade Ormsby, Sungjae Im, Cameron Smith, Patrick Reed, Jon Rahm, Tony Finau, Kevin Kisner (-4): Big boys all over the place! And also Wade Ormsby playing the fifth PGA Tour event of his career! Rahm and Finau both came on strong late and were among the best players from tee to green all day.
Here's a look at that list.
- Sergio Garcia
- Jon Rahm
- Matthew Fitzpatrick
- Rory McIlroy
- Webb Simpson
- Tony Finau
Rahm is following up a 66 on Sunday at Riviera with this ho-hum 68 in which he putted average, and will likely be the favorite going into Round 2.
T13. Scottie Scheffler, Sebastian Munoz, Joaquin Niemann, Rory McIlroy, Victor Perez, Louis Oosthuizen (-4): I think you can safely presume that the winner will come from this group or ahead of them on Sunday evening. McIlroy is maybe the most intriguing here (even though Scheffler was my pick). Rory hit it well on Thursday and regained a little of what he'd been lacking with his iron play. He and Garcia ahead of him were among the worst putters of anyone in that top 18.
T63. Dustin Johnson (+5): I'm not sure what I watched on Thursday, but on multiple occasions I saw D.J. miss the hole by two or three golf balls either way on putts that were within 15 feet. He was just as lousy with the driver (if not worse) and now trails the lead by a cool 11 going into Friday.
72. Matthew Wolff (+11): His card was astonishing! Wolff somehow gained a stroke with his approach play and lost 12 everywhere else en route to an 83. That's four birdies, four bogeys, six pars, two doubles, a triple and a quad. Insanity!
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