Simpson and Fitzpatrick show that brains beat brawn at The Concession

Some pre-tournament theories may have to be revised after two shortish hitters topped the leaderboard after day one of the WGC-Workday Championship

There's a new course on display at this week's WGC-Workday Championship in Florida.

The Concession Golf Club has a great back story: its name comes from Jack Nicklaus' famous gesture in the Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale in 1969 when he conceded Tony Jacklin his putt to ensure the tournament ended in a tie.

Nicklaus and Jacklin came together to design The Concession. But going into the tournament and even after the practice rounds the messages were mixed as to how it would play.

Some said it would give big hitters a significant advantage as they could carry the ball over many of the hazards. Others insisted it was all about short game.

The first-round leaderboard certainly flew in the face of the first theory. Topping it were Webb Simpson and Matthew Fitzpatrick, a pair of short drivers ranked 133rd and 201st respectively on the PGA Tour's Driving Distance stats.

Two other players outside the top 125 in DD were in the four-way tie for third - Kevin Kisner (184th) and Billy Horschel (126th).

And as for those monster hitters? Well, Bryson DeChambeauDustin Johnson and Bubba Watson all fired miserable 5-over 77s to sit 11 back.

This is a no-cut event but it's asking an awful lot for that trio to have a big impact now.

Simpson certainly relied on short game on day one: he ranked sixth in SG: Around The Green and seventh in SG: Putting. Fitzpatrick was also solid in those two areas, ranking 13th (SG: ATG) and 17th (SGP).

However, Patrick Reed had made a smart observation after playing the course several times in the build-up.

The defending champion, who won last year's edition in Mexico, said: "It's definitely going to take some patience and creativity around the greens this week, but hopefully you're able to hit the ball well enough where you're not having to focus too much on having to chip around this place."

In other words, the best strategy was to hit the greens in the first replace.

That was certainly a key for both leaders. Simpson ranked fourth in SG: Approach while only one player hit more greens than Fitzpatrick.

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There's no Strokes Gained: Thinking stat but Simpson and Fitzpatrick are certainly two of the best strategists around. That could be another reason why both took to The Concession so well on day one.

As Billy Horschel said later (see below), this is not a place where you play "caveman golf". Brains beat brawn.

Here's what some of the leaders said after the first 18 holes:

Matthew Fitzpatrick -6

"The golf course is in unbelievable shape. The greens are running about 12 on the Stimp, That's great for me, I love it when it's like that. I think it makes you think, this golf course, you've got to think about where you're hitting your tee shots and your approach shots. Yeah, you've got to be on the ball.

Matthew Fitzpatrick lines up a putt in round one
Matthew Fitzpatrick lines up a putt in round one

"I think the big thing for me is you've really got to think about your approach, your approach shots. It's so complicated into some of them. Where the flags are, they're put in tight little areas and you've got to make sure you catch the right slopes to either get it close or just to the fat part of the green. That's what we did really well today and got to do more of it the next three."

Webb Simpson -6

"The course is fantastic. It's firm. I was hoping it would get firm and fast. It takes that lengthy scorecard down a little bit. Very pleased with the start. I worked on a couple things last week with putting alignment and with my driver and I saw good things from that today. You always want to see it first round back, but it doesn't always happen that way, so I was happy to see like tough tee shots with trouble, really stepping up and making good swings. And made a lot of putts today, so that was a good feeling."

Billy Horschel -5

"I think this is a course that really makes you think about how to play each hole, how to play sort of from the tee shot or from the green back or maybe from the tee shot forward, whichever way people like to look at it. It fits right in my game of really being diligent and thinking about the proper shot and just not I would say caveman golf. Sometimes we play too much caveman golf out here where you're not too worried about if you hit a bad shot and miss it in the wrong spot, it still get up and down, here you can't do that."

Sergio Garcia -5

"It's the kind of golf course that you probably need to play it a few times. Very tricky around the greens, for sure. On the tees it's quite, you know, you can see what you want to do. Obviously you have to just hit good tee shots, but it definitely on the greens, around the greens it gets very tricky."

Cameron Smith -4

"I actually come down here a couple years ago to escape a hurricane. Just come down for two or three days, did some practice with a couple other lads and went home. The course is great, I love the course, it really suits my eye. I feel like you've got to shape it a bit off the tee and be kind of creative around the greens, so it's nice."

Wade Ormsby -4

"The course has firmed up a little bit, so it's a little bit trickier out there. Just got to be careful of the pins. We know how treacherous the greens are and the roll-offs, so just got to try and play smart to the pins. We have a bit of that back home (Australia), so try to use a bit of that knowledge."

Betting after 18 holes

Paddy Power: 6/1 Jon Rahm (-4), 13/2 Brooks Koepka (-5), 7/1 Webb Simpson (-6), 10/1 Matthew Fitzpatrick (-6), 12/1 Rory McIlroy (-3), Tony Finau (-4), Patrick Reed (-4).