2021 WGC Workday Championship Buys & Fades Using Strokes Gained Data
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Tony Finau.
Wow, what an incredible Sunday at the Genesis Invitational as we received extra golf both in the morning and after 72 holes. It was Max Homa and Tony Finau who took it to two playoff holes, before Homa, the Los Angeles native, took the victory.
Finau posted the round of the day on Sunday with a 7-under 64 at Riviera Country Club, which appeared to be one-shot short when Homa hit it inside of four feet on his 72nd hole. Homa would lip out the putt to take it to playoff holes.
It seemed like Finau was destined for his second TOUR win when Homa was seemingly stymied by a tree on the first playoff hole, but would hit a miraculous approach to leave a birdie putt. Both players would par, and Homa would win on the second playoff hole as Finau hit his tee shot in the bunker on the Par-3 14th.
It was a truly incredible event, on a classic course with little rough, no water hazards and just firm and fast conditions creating tough scoring. Hopefully the TOUR and USGA can take some notes on how to set up a tournament that can be entertaining without being 20+ under par.
As we roll into the first WGC event of the year, we will also go to a new venue, as it was deemed important to keep this tournament stateside rather than in its traditional spot in Mexico. The top-50 players in the world plus 22 other invitees will gather this week at The Concession in Florida for the first WGC of 2021.
Let’s look back at the strokes gained data from Riviera to see who is in good form heading into next week’s event.
3 Buys for the Workday Championship at The Concession
We don’t have any reference points or course history to look at coming into the event this week at the WGC, so it will be all about strokes gained. The players who stick out the most are clearly some of the top finishers from the Genesis Invitational. Runner-up Tony Finau is the first of that group as the leader in strokes gained tee to green on the week.
Finau gained 2.59 shots per round tee to green, aided mostly by his approach play, which ranked fourth in the field of cut makers. It’s no secret that Nicklaus tracks like Concession are second-shot golf courses, and despite the playoff loss this week it appears Finau is dialed-in from that aspect.
I know he will be disappointed in the result this week in California, but he has to know he is close to that allusive second TOUR win. I won’t hesitate to go back to Finau this week in Florida.
Jon Rahm was one of my favorite picks this week in LA, but it was too little, too late as he charged up the leaderboard on Sunday. He wound up posting the second-best round of the day with a 5-under 66 to climb into the top 5, but he was never really a factor in the outcome.
The Spaniard ended up gaining more than two shots tee to green on the field during the week at Riviera, with the majority of that coming from 1.29 shots gained per round on approach. Rahm will be ready to make a better run at the win this week for a WGC, and his game is in form to be able to get it done.
I decided early in the week that I would not play anyone in their debut at the Genesis Invitational, but Viktor Hovland would nearly have me eating those words. He gained nearly two shots on average versus the field ball striking this week at Riviera Country Club, including more than three strokes in the category in Sunday’s final round.
Hovland wound up in a tie for fifth on the week despite losing strokes to the field both on and around the greens. I’ll be happy to take a shot on the young player this week in Florida as he tees it up for his second WGC.