The Workday Charity Open already is the fifth PGA TOUR event since play resumed a month ago. Sports fans everywhere are just happy that there's live action again, but avid fans of the PGA TOUR are in for a rare treat over the next two weeks.
Since Muirfield Village Golf Club is hosting consecutive tournaments with the annual staple of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide anchoring the pair, curiosity (and skepticism) over just how differently it can test the best golfers in the world in such a short turnaround time is piqued. Unless you pay particular attention to course setups, you're not going to possess a full understanding of the simple fact that it's possible. Of course, the existence of such a trait is a standard tool among gamers.
Monday's Power Rankings explained that the course likely will play shorter than the 7,456 yards on the scorecard, primary rough will start at three-and-a-half inches for the Workday, and this week's Stimpmeter reading is going to be 11 feet as opposed to next week's measurement of 13 feet or longer. The last variable is the most relevant as it concerns the field of 157 for the Workday.
In the context of the green speeds, this is an inaugural event for the current generation. Yet, only 34 golfers in the field never have given it a go in competition at Muirfield Village. While all touring professionals have the capacity to adapt quickly to all conditions, those with course experience will have moments of fighting what they think they know about how putts should roll on the undulating surfaces in central Ohio. For the first-timers in the field, this sets up as a moment to shine because of their inexperience.
Many times when we face new challenges, pushing it through the car wash of extremes can clarify understanding of the preparation.
For example, imagine your favorite sports team hosting a game in its stadium with all seats filled by only opposing fans, or if the Indianapolis 500 was routed in the opposite direction. With this exercise of considering what could be uncomfortable for many, would the favorites to win and contend be the same? Talent is talent, class is permanent and true pros embrace the opportunity to excel amid awkward circumstance, but with nothing against which to compare, the absence of prior experience in those situations has greater value than ever.
Notables among course debutants include, in alphabetical order, Lanto Griffin, Viktor Hovland, Graeme McDowell, Maverick McNealy, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler and Matthew Wolff. While you likely would have sprinkled in a couple of those guys into your lineups, you should be more motivated given how the stars align for the Workday.
Naturally, next week's narrative will include how those playing week will adapt to what hopes to be a traditional setup with or without prior course experience.
This intriguing doubleheader not only pays off elevated interest in the TOUR but it should validate your decision-making as well.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the Workday Charity Open (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Mark Hubbard; Sungjae Im; Matt Kuchar; Maverick McNealy; Patrick Reed; Justin Rose; Scottie Scheffler; Jordan Spieth; Gary Woodland
Driving: Joel Dahmen; Adam Hadwin; Viktor Hovland; Sungjae Im; Jon Rahm; Scottie Scheffler; Brendan Steele; Kevin Streelman; Jhonattan Vegas; Gary Woodland
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Patrick Reed … Sometimes even I can get too results-oriented, and I never hit any of the shots! He's not my Kryptonite, but I'm not ruling him out of the role for the time being. Call it a trial basis. Muirfield Village allows him to spray it off the tee and still score. He's 4-for-4 at the Memorial with a T8 in 2016, so those results match the analysis. At the same time, expectations were high at Detroit GC, where he missed the cut, because it comps strongly to Colonial, where he placed T7. You can assign all of the usual reasons why he played well at one spot and not the other, but it doesn't change what the sheet says. Tripling down at the Workday.
Jordan Spieth … He's analyzed and compared to his former self so often that all you need is the eye test. The analytics bear it out. Muirfield Village gives him room off the tee, so he'll be able to work on that deficiency without additional pressure of losing strokes. He's still a scorer, so with slow greens and a boatload of success on the course, it'd have been a shame if he didn't commit.
Matthew Fitzpatrick … Hiring Jim Mackay for a couple of weeks can't hurt and it should help. The Englishman already has been a regular on leaderboards abroad, but with Bones on the bag, the two could be a potent combo in the short-term. Fitzpatrick still is chasing his first PGA TOUR title.
Collin Morikawa … The theory that unfamiliar greens benefit ball-strikers plays into his surgical precision, as does the fact that he's seeing Muirfield Village for the first time. What's more, he's proven that he can perform sight unseen no matter the situation. Still, in going T64-MC at Harbour Town and TPC River Highlands, ultimately ending the consecutive cuts-made streak with which he opened his professional career, he may be entering a phase of the learning curve that warrants pause.
Mark Hubbard … With another three sub-70s at Detroit GC on the board, he has a TOUR-leading 40 on the season. Sungjae Im slots second with 36. Three are tied for third another four rounds back. Hubbard also is 4-for-4 out of the break.
Byeong Hun An … He loves mashing it around Muirfield Village. A playoff loss in 2018 highlights top 25s in each of the last four editions. Form of late is off, but he's perfect for course-history buffs.
Jhonattan Vegas … A T40 in 2018 is the better of only two paydays in five trips to Muirfield Village, but he's gone for five top 25s in his last seven starts worldwide, including in his last two. Ideal in DFS.
J.B. Holmes … First appearance of the restart. He connected three top 20s earlier in 2020. And true to form, he's also mixed in a handful of leaderboard showings at Muirfield Village, the latest of which a T13 in 2018. Toss him a share or two.
Scottie Scheffler … Whether it's a loss of focus after a blistering start to the season or simply the week-to-week challenges that every rookie experiences, his inconsistency has triggered numerous complaints. Perfect timing then to continue to remain faithful, at least fractionally. What's more, the nearest object in his side mirror is bogey-free 65 at Detroit Golf Club where he went 6-for-14 in scoring opportunities and holed out for another.
Jason Day … Among the notables who hasn't taken a break since the restart; well, unless you count three of the four weekends after he missed cuts. This is a home game, but he has only one top 25 in 11 starts in the Memorial.
Phil Mickelson … He checks the box for course-history buffs, but do you trust him? That's been the issue for far too long now. As 50-year-olds are concerned, he's inspiring, but age is more than just a number on the PGA TOUR.
Mackenzie Hughes … After finishing T3 at TPC River Highlands, he opted out of his commitment to the Rocket Mortgage Classic. It's been one of the most all-or-nothing seasons in memory in that he has a pair of podium finishes among five cuts made in 15 starts, while none of the other three are top 50s. Stick with him as a flier on shorter tracks in general, too.
Shane Lowry … Just 1-for-3 in the restart with a T60 at the Travelers. He's faring well on approach, but he can't find the hole with his flat stick.
Brandt Snedeker … Very slow restart is compounded by an 0-for-6 record at Muirfield Village. It's probably a good thing that he hasn't appeared since 2013, but he's not showing any glimmers of a turnaround now.
Billy Horschel … He's an ideal litmus test for how Muirfield Village will play this week versus next. In six appearances of the Memorial, he's risen for a trio of top 15s. That makes sense given his penchant for tough tracks, but the course will play easier for the Workday and he's been scuffling. Consider this a tune-up and reconsider should he stick around for the nightcap.
Seung-Yul Noh … With 24 starts remaining on his medical extension, he's rapidly generating interest in long-term formats with a pair of paydays post-hiatus, but Muirfield Village always has had his number, so sit on your hands and observe only. In six prior trips for the Memorial, he's made one cut (T52, 2012).
Charles Howell III
Si Woo Kim
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Nick Watney … The first PGA TOUR member to test positive for COVID-19 is making his first start since the diagnosis on June 19. While the virus doesn't impact the swing, the variable relevant to gamers will be his stamina in the heat and humidity of central Ohio. No doubt that he'll draw additional attention at least early in the tournament.
Denny McCarthy … Had to withdraw from the Travelers Championship before his second round due to a positive test for COVID-19. Continues to lead the PGA TOUR in Strokes Gained: Putting and he's a lock for the Playoffs.
Bud Cauley … He's now more than two years removed from the automobile crash after missing the cut at the 2018 Memorial. He returned last year and finished T9 to contribute to a 5-for-6 record with two top 25s. He's not known to be injured right now, but he withdrew as a precaution when his playing partner, Denny McCarthy, tested positive for COVID-19 at TPC River Highlands. Cauley is more than a flier at Muirfield Village. Give him strong consideration.
Dylan Frittelli … Tested positive for COVID-19, so he wasn't allowed to travel on the charter to Detroit or compete in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He's been wildly inconsistent since play resumed, but the closing 62 at Harbour Town was evidence of the whiffs of great form that has been on display at times. With a forced week off for rest, he presents nicely in DFS at the Workday.
Talor Gooch … Called it quits after an opening 76 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic due to a back injury. He's just 1-for-4 in the restart with a T43 at Colonial.
Brandon Wu … The 23-year-old is making his fifth start of the season, all via a sponsor exemption. He last appeared at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for which he appeared in Sleepers and placed T38. Had planned on competing in last week's Korn Ferry Tour event in Colorado, but he had to withdraw due to a positive test for COVID-19.
Kevin Na … Not a surprise given he walked off Detroit GC during his second round with a sore back.
Branden Grace … The pandemic has affected everybody in all walks of life and the competitive hiatus impacted golfers around the world. The PGA TOUR's decision to extend status through the 2020-21 season arguably benefits card-carrying South Africans the most. Because of the location of their home base, it's not just geographically inconvenient to travel, but the peak of their home circuit aligns with the PGA TOUR's holiday break, and that can put pressure on performing well without proper rest and a routine. The TOUR makes some concessions for all dual-tour internationals, but it doesn't mean that it's easy to navigate a calendar year fulfilling membership requirements and retaining form inside the ropes. At 152nd in the FedExCup (in 12 starts), he knows he's fortunate not to have to worry about how he'd try to commit to as much competition as possible in the U.S. over the next year or so. In our world, full-season salary gamers hope that he continues to take it easy so that they can swoop in for a bargain ahead of a full season with six majors contributing.
K.J. Choi … The 50-year-old remains fully exempt on the merit of his second career earnings exemption, but his value has transitioned to the PGA TOUR Champions, which is scheduled to resume with The Ally Challenge on July 31-Aug. 2.
POWER RANKINGS RECAP – ROCKET MORTGAGE CLASSIC
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Tyrrell Hatton T4
2 Webb Simpson T8
3 Bryson DeChambeau Win
4 Viktor Hovland T12
5 Patrick Reed MC
6 J.T. Poston MC
7 Hideki Matsuyama T21
8 Rory Sabbatini MC
9 Tony Finau T53
10 Will Gordon MC
11 Doc Redman T21
12 Sungjae Im T53
13 Brendon Todd T57
14 Kevin Na WD
15 Brandt Snedeker MC
Wild Card Chris Kirk T21
SLEEPERS RECAP – ROCKET MORTGAGE CLASSIC
Dominic Bozzelli MC
Chesson Hadley MC
Mark Hubbard T12
Maverick McNealy T8
Peter Uihlein MC
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE GOLFERS ON THE PGA TOUR
July 7 … none
July 8 … Kevin Chappell (34)
July 9 … none
July 10 … none
July 11 … Sean O'Hair (38)
July 12 … Robert Allenby (49); Alex Noren (38)
July 13 … Tyler Duncan (31)