Which of the leading contenders at the WGC-Workday Championship will suit the new venue?

It’s a fresh test for the world’s finest golfers as the first WGC event of the year returns to Florida, but finds a new home in Tampa Bay.

For many years this week's World Golf Championship event was based at the Doral Resort in Florida, before it took an unexpected four year hiatus in Mexico City.

On return to the Sunshine State, the tournament has found a new base at The Concession Club, a venue that has hosted many college championships, but which is completely new to the PGA Tour.

Golf in Florida, on the other hand, is absolutely nothing unusual - indeed, the PGA Tour has an annual Swing there which this week marks the starts of.

Down the years we've learned that, although the courses might change, plenty of key golfing fundamentals remain the same.

The courses will be resort-like in design, wind will likely be a factor at some point, and the greens will feature grainy Bermuda grass.

We've taken a look at the Florida record of the leading contenders for this week's title and also highlighted form at PGA National, current home of the Honda Classic, because, like this week, it's a course designed by the great Jack Nicklaus.

Dustin Johnson

In his early days Johnson genuinely struggled in Florida. So much so, in fact, that he made just one top 30 finish in his first 16 starts. Admittedly the exception was a very fine second place in the 2011 version of this event, but it's still a rather staggeringly poor record.

Johnson has won all four WGC events.
Johnson has won all four WGC events.

He wouldn't be the World No. 1, however, if he couldn't turn that form around and in 13 visits since he's landed eight top 20s, claimed victory at Doral in 2015, and leads the field in Florida score average over the last three years. His most recent starts here, in 2019, earned back-to-back top six finishes.

Johnson is 6/1 with Paddy Power.

Jon Rahm

You could almost argue that the Spaniard's history in Florida shapes up very like Johnson's - albeit within a much smaller sample size. He missed the (third round) cut on debut at THE PLAYERS, was T63 on his second start, and then improvement came.

He led the same tournament by one shot with 18 holes to play two years ago (before a final round 76 left him T12th) and a week later he finished sixth at the Valspar Championship.

Rahm is 8/1 with Paddy Power.

Rory McIlroy

The Northern Irishman has a fondness for Florida because he holidayed there as a youngster and also has a house in the state. It took him eight starts to land his first top-10 there, but since then he has racked them up: no less than 15 of them in his last 27 starts.

McIlroy has tasted success before in Florida.
McIlroy has tasted success before in Florida.

More importantly, perhaps, he has recorded quality efforts on a wide range of course and has wins at PGA National (2012), Bay Hill (2018) and TPC Sawgrass (2019). That early win on the Nicklaus track was no fluke: he also lost a playoff there in 2014.

McIlroy is 16/1 with Paddy Power.

Xander Schauffele

Like Rahm, Schauffele has very little experience in Florida. He missed the cut in his only start at PGA National, has finished second and has a missed a cut at TPC Sawgrass, and was T24th in last year's visit to Bay Hill. That's it.

Schauffele is 14/1 with Paddy Power.

Patrick Cantlay

Cantlay's Florida log book looks solid on first glance, but is even better on second look. He finished fifth there in a Korn Ferry Tour event in 2012 and was also second in the 2017 Valspar Championship. Those are the highlights, but his two top 25 finishes at THE PLAYERS (T22-T23) were promising efforts marred by poor Sundays.

On both occasions he spent the entire week in the top ten before crashing backwards. To these efforts we can add two missed cuts, but we must also take another factor into account: Cantlay has won on Nicklaus designs Muirfield Village and Sherwood, and is 3-for-3 at finishing top seven at Harbour Town.

Cantlay is 18/1 with Paddy Power.

Justin Thomas

The Kentucky man lies second behind Johnson for Florida score average over the last three years and that effort is aided by his victory at PGA National in 2018 (he was also third there in 2016). He also has top 10 finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Innisbrook.

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Is it worth noting his 2020 record on Nicklaus tracks? He was very good on them: eighth at Harbour Town (having been T101st after 18 holes), playoff defeat and T18th at Muirfield Village, and second at Sherwood.

Thomas is 18/1 with Paddy Power.

Bryson DeChambeau

Golf's own Frankenstein has been solid in Florida. In his eight completed tournament in the state he has made seven cuts, but only twice has he finished better than T20th and the most recent of those, last year's venture to Bay Hill, was a fast finish in which he was never genuinely in contention.

Two years earlier, however, he led at halfway in the Arnold Palmer Invitational before finishing second. He also has an extra tick in the box: he won the 2015 NCAA Championship at The Concession.

DeChambeau is 20/1 with Paddy Power.

Tony Finau

For a man who racks up top 10s for fun (and that genuinely is a quality worth celebrating rather than mocking), he has a terrible record in Florida. Consider that he's landed a top-10 in 40% of his last 50 starts, in 37% of his last 100 appearances and in 25% of all his career starts.

But in Florida? Just one top-10 in 15 starts which is 7%. Even more incredibly, it's not even a quirk because he missed the cut nine times and has only one finish better than T22nd in 14 PGA Tour efforts.

Finau is 20/1 with Paddy Power.

Brooks Koepka

Florida born, Florida bred, Florida based. So … how come he's yet to get to grips with competing there? His record is downright Finau-like. True, he was second at the 2019 Honda Classic, but that's his only top-10 finish in 19 starts.

Place that again a career record of making the top-10 in 32% of his appearances (a ratio that is more or less constant over his last 100 and 50 starts as well) and it looks very peculiar.

Koepka is 25/1 with Paddy Power.

Tyrrell Hatton

The Englishman has a topped-and-tailed record in Florida that began with back-to-back fourth place finishes in his first two starts at the 2017 Honda Classic and Arnold Palmer Invitational, and ended with a very fine victory in windy conditions at last year's visit to Bay Hill.

In-between he made just one top 40 in seven starts (and that was just T29th), a record more than somewhat skewed by an apparent difficulty he has with TPC Sawgrass.

Hatton is 18/1 with Paddy Power.

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