The PGA Tour begins the Florida Swing this week with another stellar field for the World Golf Championships-Workday Championship at the Concession which will feature the entire top 10 in the World Golf Rankings at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla.
An opposite-field event, the Puerto Rico Open, will be contested at Grand Reserve Country Club in Rio Grande, P.R., among players who did not qualify for the WGC tournament.
And even though he’s not in either event, Tiger Woods overshadows all.
The World Golf Championships event has been played as the WGC-Mexico Championship since 2017, but was moved to Florida this year because of Covid-19 restrictions.
Patrick Reed, No. 11 in the world, won this tournament last year and in 2014, while top-ranked Dustin Johnson has won it three times since 2015 and has six WGC titles in his career, second only to Woods’ 18.
Woods was not going to play this week as he continues to recover from his latest back surgery in December, and that was even before he sustained serious leg injuries in a car accident on Tuesday in Southern California.
Johnson is the only player to win all four of the World Golf Championships, and his recent hot streak with four victories in nine events has given him 28 professional titles, including 24 on the PGA Tour, and he claimed his second major title at the Masters in November.
“I think obviously there’s a lot of great players and I’m the first one to do it,” Johnson said when he completed the WGC Slam by winning the 2017 WGC Mexico Championship. “I feel like there will be some more to do it. But I’m very, very pleased with it.”
Johnson has been ranked No. 1 in the world for the last 27 weeks and a total of 118 weeks in his career, third behind Woods with 683 weeks and Greg Norman of Australia at 331.
DJ is on a clear path to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
“I’ve still got a long way to go hopefully, and hopefully I’ve got a bunch more wins to put on my resume before I start thinking about (the Hall of fame),” Johnson a few years ago. “Obviously, it would be a great achievement and a great honor to be a part of that. For me it’s more, you know, trying to win as many tournaments as I can.”
Second-ranked Jon Rahm (pictured) is among the favorites, even though he is seeking his first WGC victory, although he has been close three times.
Eighth-ranked Rory McIlroy claimed his third World Golf Championships title by winning the 2019 WGC-HSBC Champions in China and can join Johnson as the only players to capture the WGC Slam by winning this week.
McIlroy, who was 28 pro victories around the world including four majors and is a Masters title short of the Career Grand Slam, has finished in the top five in his last five starts in this WGC tournament, and eight times in the last nine.
“Yeah, that would be pretty cool,” said McIlroy, who is coming off his first missed cut in 26 events last week at the Genesis Invitational, the Los Angeles-area event at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.
“WGCs are big events, top players in the world, and I’ve always played pretty well in them. Yeah, to complete the set would be nice. Those wedge wood trophies look pretty good in the trophy case, so I’d like to add one more.”
Not to mention a Masters title in April.
- Jon Rahm, Spain – Closed with a 66 in Sunday to tie for fifth in the Genesis Invitational. Rahm hasn’t won since the 2020 Memorial Tournament, so he is due after finishing in the top-10 in four of his last five events and in the top-25 in all eight of his starts this season. He has four top-10s in the WGCs, including a second and two thirds.
- Dustin Johnson, United States – After winning four of his previous eight starts, DJ was in the hunt on Sunday at Riviera before closing with a 72 to wind up in a tie for eighth. His worst finish in his last 10 starts was a tie for 11th in the Sentry TOC. Johnson has won six times and recorded 14 top-10 finishes in the World Golf Championships.
- Patrick Cantlay, United States – The FedEx Cup points leader won the Zozo Championship, was second in the AmEx and third at Pebble Beach among four top-10s and seven top-25 finishes in eight tournaments this season. Cantlay has placed in the top- 10 three times and in the top-25 on seven occasions in the World Golf Championships.
- Tyrrell Hatton, England – The fifth-ranked Hatton claimed three of his 10 pro victories around the world in the last year, including the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January and the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational, his first PGA Tour title. He tied for third in the CJ Cup and tied for seventh in the Houston Open in the U.S. this season. His best result in four top-10s in the WGCs was a tie for third in 2018 Mexico Championship.
- Justin Thomas, United States – Coming off a missed cut in the Genesis Invitational last week, Thomas was fourth in the Masters and tied for eighth in the U.S. Open among four top-10 finishes and seven top-25s this season. Won the WGC-St. Jude Invitational in 2018 and last year, among his seven top-10 results in the World Golf Championships.
- Xander Schauffele, United States – Although he hasn’t won since the 2019 Sentry TOC, Schauffele has finished second three times and fifth twice this season while placing in the top 20 in all eight of his starts to ranked third in the FedEx Cup standings. He won the 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions, was second in his title defense among three top-10s.
- Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland – Trying to bounce back from a missed cut at Riviera, McIlroy tied for fifth in the Masters and tied for eighth in the U.S. Open among six top-10 finishes this year. The last of his 28 pro victories came in the 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions, one of his three titles and 26 top-10s in the World Golf Championships.
- Tony Finau, United States – Still hasn’t won since his only PGA Tour victory in the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, but Finau has place second in his last three tournaments and nine times since that lone title. Has six top-10s and eight top-25s in his last 10 events. His best finish in the World Golf Championships was second in 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions.
- Bryson DeChambeau, United States – The reigning U.S. Open champion, who won that title by six strokes, missed the cut last week in the Genesis Invitational, but the also tied for seventh in the Sentry TOC and tied for eighth in the Shriners this season. DeChambeau’s best finish in the WGCs was second in 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions.
- Daniel Berger, United States – Skipped the Genesis last week after claiming his third PGA Tour title in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and tied for seventh in the Sony Open and was 10th in Sentry TOC in recent starts. Berger finished second in the 2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and was second in the 2016 WGC-HSBC Champions.
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Webb Simpson, United States; Viktor Hovland, Norway; Patrick Reed, United States; Brooks Koepka, United States; Sungjae Im, South Korea; Collin Morikawa, United States; Hideki Matsuyama, Japan; Tommy Fleetwood, England; Joaquin Niemann, Chile; Cameron Smith, Australia.
- Will Zalatoris, United States – Tied for 15th at Riviera, his seventh top-25 this season, which includes a T-6 in the U.S. Open and three other top-10s. Making his WGC debut.
- Abraham Ancer, Mexico – The 2018 Australian Open champion was T-5 in AmEx and fourth in Shriners among five top-25s. T-4 in the 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions.
- Scottie Scheffler, United States – 2020 PGA Tour Rookie of Year was T-7 in Phoenix, T-20 at Riviera in last two starts, has five top-25s. T-15, T-26 in WGC events last year.
- Christiaan Bezuidenhout, South Africa – Won Alfred Dunhill in November, South African Open in December on Euro Tour. T-17, T-20 in WGC events the last two years.
- Lanto Griffin, United Sates – Five-time winner as a pro finished T-7 in Farmers, T-26 at Riviera in his last two starts and has five top-25s. T-29 in WGC-Mexico last season.
For first round tee times, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html