2020 Workday Charity Open Betting Picks: Why You Should Buy Low on Scottie Scheffler
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Cameron Champ
- Jason Sobel previews the 2020 Workday Charity Open featuring betting odds, picks, DFS and more.
- Sobel explains why you should buy low on Scottie Scheffler at Muirfield Village, along with more sleepers.
Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of this week’s Workday Charity Open before. Nobody has.
When the John Deere Classic was canceled two months ago, this one-off event was created to fill that gap and will be contested at Muirfield Village with shorter distance, diminished rough and slower green speeds than next week’s Memorial Tournament on the very same course.
So, let’s just call this one the mini-Memorial.
I suppose we can employ some of the usual Muirfield metrics to prognosticate this tournament, though there’s such an obvious disconnect between what we’ll witness this week and next week that we need to treat them as separate entities as much as possible.
All of which begs the question: How do we handicap a brand-new event on a familiar course which will look somewhat unfamiliar this week? Well, I’m not sure that’s a question which has ever been asked before.
While I’ll take past Memorial performance into account, I’d rather focus on the three absolutes we know about this course entering the opening round.
Competitors have been told to expect the use of all teeing grounds, which could essentially mean moving professional golfers up to the proverbial white tees at times during the week.
Many people unjustifiably believe that playing a shorter golf course offers a greater advantage to the shorter hitters. If anything, it simply levels the playing field, but it can be argued that longer hitters actually own a distinct edge with less distance, because they can hit shorter clubs from the tee and into the greens.
Think of it this way: A 700-yard par-5 wouldn’t necessarily offer an advantage to big hitters, because it would (theoretically) be a three-shot hole for everyone. But a 575-yard par-5 – a full 125 yards shorter – would give that advantage to the bigger hitters, because they’d be able to reach in two, while others couldn’t.
Essentially, the latter scenario is what could happen this week, only on a bigger scale. Among those big hitters who have enjoyed success on shorter courses are Gary Woodland, Bubba Watson and Cameron Champ.
There’s not nearly as much to explain here.
According to local reports, tournament officials are expecting the rough to measure 3-3½ inches for this week’s event, then they’ll let it grow to 3½-4 inches (and higher) next week.
This doesn’t necessarily favor the longer hitters, but it does offer an advantage to those who tend to spray the ball – and yes, most of the less accurate players are the guys who hit it long. (Short and crooked is no way to live the PGA TOUR life.)
Among the big-name players in this week’s field who struggle keeping it in the short stuff are Phil Mickelson (187th in driving accuracy), Brooks Koepka (194th) and Jordan Spieth (210th).
Slower green speeds
This one is less scientific and more anecdotal than the other two, though we do have the benefit of knowing the greens should be running at about 11 on the Stimpmeter this week and a few feet quicker for the Memorial.
Without long-term data on which players have performed best on slower greens, we must make some assumptions. Much as with shorter distances, this characteristic should help to level the playing field. For example: If Player A is traditionally a very strong putter on the regular quick green speeds, then his performance this week should theoretically regress to the mean, while Player B, a notoriously weaker putter, shouldn’t have as much disparity as usual between himself and the better putters.
It shouldn’t mean that great putters will suddenly putt poorly this week and poor putters will putt great; it just means that the differential should be more negligible than usual. Potential plays from the bottom 10 percent in the strokes gained putting category include Keegan Bradley, Hideki Matsuyama and, yes, Byeong-Hun An.
Keeping all three of these course characteristics in mind, while also factoring history at Muirfield Village and a propensity for going low (this could/should be another event won with a score of 20-under or better), let’s take a look at my favorite plays for the Workday.
One player to win the tournament.
Cameron Champ (+7500)
Once upon a time – like, all the way back to two whole years ago – Champ was the Next Big Thing in golf, before Collin Morikawa and Sungjae Im and Viktor Hovland and Joaquin Niemann and Matthew Wolff and any other Next Big Thing that I’m leaving off this list.
He won in his second start after getting a PGA TOUR card and backed it up with finishes of 11th-or-better in three of his next four events. And then… it all just stopped. Champ put up an amalgam of mediocre results and MCs until this past fall when, out of nowhere, he won again. Since then, he’s yet to post another top-10 on his home circuit, though he came close with a T-12 in Detroit this weekend after earning late entry into the field on Wednesday.
With such an influx of potentially great young players, it’s easy to overlook Champ, but that would be a mistake. In a field flush with elite-level talent, he’s on the verge of reminding us that we shouldn’t forget about him on this list, too.
Potential selections for one-and-done options.
Justin Rose (+2600) and Matt Kuchar (+4500)
I’m grouping these guys together not only because they’re similar players in some respects – solid, consistent, durable, capable of winning any week – but because they also own similar records at Muirfield Village.
In 13 career starts, Rose has made 10 cuts, owns one win and two-runner-up finishes’ in 14 starts, Kuchar has made 12 cuts and also owns a win and a runner-up.
While I might not go overboard on either one for outright bets this week, I think they’re each capable of contending and should make for strong OAD options, not to mention other prop bets and as DFS plays.
Gary Woodland (+3500)
I mentioned his name above for good reason – Woodland is one of those big hitters who sees shorter courses as an advantage, not a disadvantage. He finished in ninth place just a month ago at Colonial, which should speak volumes about his ability to flourish when he doesn’t need to bomb it off the tee.
With two career finishes of sixth-or-better at this venue, he’s one of a handful of players that I very well may have on this list for next week’s event, as well.
Keegan Bradley (+11000)
This is called putting your money where your mouth is. This is an opportunity to test-drive what I wrote above about the slower greens narrowing the differential between good putters and poor ones.
If that’s the case – and if ball-striking means a lot more this week than putting numbers – then Bradley could be a valuable play in all formats.
One player to finish top-five.
Scottie Scheffler (+1400)
Will the real Scottie Scheffler please stand up?
Last week in Detroit, he posted back-to-back rounds of 79-65 to miss the cut, but at least get us excited about him moving forward. Maybe it shouldn’t matter much, but he also won the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship at the nearby Ohio State Scarlet Course last summer.
Perhaps a bit undervalued after a slow restart following the COVID-19 break, I like the idea of jumping on Scheffler for a title contention this week.
One player to finish top-10.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (+500)
There won’t be many players making headlines this week more for the person standing next to them than any other reason, but those other guys won’t have Jim “Bones” Mackay on the bag. With Fitzpatrick’s usual looper, Billy Foster, unable to be at the event, Bones offered his services, which is akin to Mike Trout pinch-hitting for Bryce Harper.
Already trending in the right direction before an MC in his last start at the Travelers Championship, it’s easy to see Fitz sneaking on to the leaderboard early and sticking around for the whole week.
One player to finish top-20.
Maverick McNealy (+500)
If there’s a prevailing theme amongst my picks – besides those listed in the intro – it’s that there are a lot of young players named here who might be a little hungrier to compete than many of the veteran players who might essentially use this week as a warmup for the next one.
Coming off a final-round 66 to finish T-8 at the RMC, McNealy is riding a nice little wave of momentum into this one.
One player to finish top-30.
Jhonattan Vegas (+225)
If we’re putting together a list of the game’s most underrated players, I’d have to put Vegas somewhere not too far down. Not only has he won three PGA TOUR titles and contended in some big ones, he’s got the combination of length off the tee and nice hands around the greens that should equate to success on the bigger stages. In his last five starts, Vegas has finished 24-17-60-27-9, cashing top-30 bets in four of those.
I like him this week, but really, as long as his price remains this low, I kinda like him every week he tees it up until he finds more success and that number moves too high.
One player to finish top-40.
Seung-Yul Noh (+275)
He didn’t exactly follow up his T-11 from the Travelers, only finishing T-57 this past week in Detroit, but Noh’s ball-striking numbers were solid once again and it feels like he’s regaining some form after returning to the game earlier this year following a two-year military stint in South Korea.
I’m not sure I’d go much past a top-40 play on him this week – or a potentially low-cost, low-owned DFS play – but I do like him for this one.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
After a flawless third-round 65 in Detroit, Matsuyama was cruising toward a top-10 before his attempt was derailed with a bogey and double on 14 and 15, respectively, in the final round. That shouldn’t deter us from hopping on the Hideki train this week, though, as he won on this track in 2014 and has three other finishes of 13th-or-better here.
Consider the volatile nature of his recent results – and even his day-to-day scores – perhaps he isn’t the “safest” big-money play in DFS, but I’d be willing to roster him in any format. He should be solid for four rounds and if his putter gets hot, he can win this one.
A lower-priced option for DFS.
Much like Vegas, Munoz is another PGA TOUR winner who doesn’t seem to get his due. That’s too bad for him, but we can use his lack of popularity to our advantage. With finishes of 28th-or-better in three of his last six starts, but MCs in the other three, he’s a little bit more of a hit-or-miss type of guy than I’d usually like to list for this category, though I still feel like the upside is too much to ignore here.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Patrick Cantlay (+2800)
You can be excused for clicking this link, opening up the preview and immediately hitting control-F, only to find Cantlay’s name all the way down here at the bottom. First things first: I like last year’s Memorial champion in all formats this week – bets, props, DFS, whatever you’ve got.
The reason, though, I’m listing him here is because Cantlay is proving to be one of the game’s quickest starters. He currently leads the PGA TOUR in opening-round scoring average, with Thursday rounds of 69-66-69-66-68-66 this season.
Last year, he opened with a 68 en route to winning the Memorial, just three strokes off the early lead, all of which should portend good things for him this time around.
One player who should beat comparable players.
It feels like the young Norwegian is just now hitting his stride, his immense talents now turning into a weekly consistency. With finishes of 12-11-21-23 in four starts since the break, Hovland might not be knocking on the door of a second win lately, but he’s certainly building toward one, with each strong result an example perhaps more of his floor than his ceiling.
Regular readers of my previews know that I like guys in this category who should at least reach the weekend and based on what we’ve seen from Hovland recently, it’s tough to see him failing to do that.
The Big Fade
One top player to avoid at this tournament.
Jason Day (+7000)
I get it. This might feel like piling on, considering Day is a former world No. 1 who’s now ranked outside the top-50 and owns exactly one top-10 finish in the past year. But some might believe that returning to the Columbus area, which he now calls home, could be a recipe for turning things around. Well, here’s the thing: It’s never been that way before.
In 11 career starts at Muirfield Village, Day owns just a lone top-25 finish and has four MCs. He might love living in the area, but sleeping in his own bed has rarely been good to him here.
My favorite non-PGA Tour play of the week.
Adri Arnaus (+1800) to win the Austrian Open
Austria? Well, then. G’day, mate! Let’s put another shrimp on the barbie! This week is the Austrian Open, marking the return of the European Tour after an absence of one month longer than their American counterpart – sort of.
OK, so it’s not a fully sanctioned Euro Tour event, but instead a Challenge Tour event, the developmental circuit of the bigger tour, even though many Euro regulars will be in the field. It all begins on 7,458-yard Diamond CC near Vienna, which last hosted the Shot Clock Masters two years ago.
If regular Euro events are difficult to handicap, then consider this one especially tough, with no recent form of which to speak, a field divided between Euro and Challenge players and a course we haven’t seen in a little while.
I wouldn’t blow out the budget on this one, but Arnaus is a big-hitting Spaniard who keeps coming close on the Euro Tour. Maybe the combination of a longer course and lesser competition will equate to a victory this week.