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Stars come out to play on the Florida course built by Tony Jacklin

Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and Tyrrell Hatton in line-up as stars come out to play on the Florida course built by Tony Jacklin

  • The WGC-Workday Championship will feature 48 of the world’s top 50
  • Event will take place at The Concession in Bradenton, Florida this week
  • The world-class facility has been designed by Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus 
  • Odds stacked against Woods for an Augusta return after fifth back op

No wonder Tony Jacklin is feeling an immense sense of pride as he contemplates this week’s WGC-Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida, featuring 48 of the world’s top 50.

The event will take place at The Concession, a course the Englishman not only conceived but designed in tandem with his great friend, Jack Nicklaus. Now it will be tested for the first time by the best of the modern generation, with the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and Tyrrell Hatton all heading to town. 

‘It’s going to be fascinating to see how they get on,’ says the 76-year-old former Open and US Open champion, who lives just 40 minutes from the front entrance. ‘It’s a heck of a difficult golf course, and they can make it as long as they want. I know Jon Rahm played it recently and went round in 65 but if we get a bit of wind, you are going to see a lot of disappointed fellas come Sunday.’ 

Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson feature in the line up at the WGC-Workday Championship

Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson feature in the line up at the WGC-Workday Championship

Jacklin’s imprint is such that the road leading to the course is Lindrick Lane, after the golf club where Britain and Ireland won the Ryder Cup in 1957, the first he attended and where he fell in love with the game.

‘It was in 2001 when I had the idea of a club called The Concession,’ he tells Sportsmail. ‘The three-foot putt that Nicklaus conceded to me so the Ryder Cup was halved in 1969 at Birkdale was, to my mind, the greatest sporting gesture of all time and it left a huge mark on the game. Why not have a course to commemorate it?’

Golf geeks such as McIlroy will certainly get a kick walking through the impressive clubhouse, filled with sepia-tinted photographs recalling that historic occasion. ‘That’s all down to the owner, Bruce Cassidy, who has thrown everything at the club to make it a world-class facility,’ adds Jacklin. ‘The members joke the club should be renamed The Obsession. There’s a $2million budget to maintain it. I took Bruce to Augusta a few years ago, he came away less impressed than he is with his own venue.’

The par-5 13th hole at The Concession features water left and a huge bunker right

The par-5 13th hole at The Concession features water left and a huge bunker right

Tony Jacklin lives just 40 minutes from the front entrance at The Concession

Tony Jacklin lives just 40 minutes from the front entrance at The Concession

The daunting par-5 13th hole at The Concession features water and a huge bunker – Tony Jacklin (right) lives just 40 minutes from the front entrance of the club that he built

The chance to host the first event of what promises to be a glorious month-long Florida swing came about owing to the pandemic. The usual venue for this World Golf Championship event is in Mexico but asking players to travel overseas made no sense in the current climate.

Cassidy, who had been looking to bring the tour circus to town for a while, jumped at the chance to step in. ‘I’m thrilled for Bruce because he’s pulled out all the stops,’ says Jacklin. ‘There’s a great sense of pride for myself in seeing the course recognised to this extent. We’ve come a long way in 20 years. There’s a limited crowd of 1,000 people a day. It will be a fabulous way to kick-start all the wonderful golf leading up to the Masters.’

He is surely right about that. Right around the corner is the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Players Championship and the WGC-Match Play. It all kicks off on Thursday at the course that Jacko built. 

Odds stacked against Tiger for an Augusta return after fifth back op

It has become something of a Masters tradition in itself that, during February, we speculate on whether Tiger Woods will be fit enough to make it to Augusta in April.

Sadly, listening to his downbeat words when interviewed on American television during the Genesis Invitational on Sunday, you’d have to say the odds on this occasion are somewhat against.

After a fifth — yes, a fifth — back operation during the winter, the 45-year-old is due another MRI scan later this week to assess whether he can resume the lightest of practice.

Tiger Woods presents the trophy to Genesis Invitational winner Max Homa on Sunday

Tiger Woods presents the trophy to Genesis Invitational winner Max Homa on Sunday

Tiger Woods presents the trophy to Genesis Invitational winner Max Homa on Sunday

Asked if he thought he’d be at the Masters in six weeks, Tiger replied: ‘God, I hope so. A lot is based on my surgeons, my doctors and my therapist in making sure that I do it correctly. This is the only back I’ve got, and I don’t know how much wriggle room is left there. Right now, I don’t know what the plan is.’

Woods is about to fall out of the world’s top 50 following a limited schedule since his miracle triumph at the 2019 Masters. Frequent bouts of stiffness led to him going under the knife once more.

His close neighbours Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas both said recently they thought Tiger would be fit enough for Augusta but he clearly needs that MRI to reveal some good news.

Meanwhile, in the Hollywood Hills on Sunday, local boy Max Homa was a popular winner of the Genesis tournament that Tiger hosts, as the 30-year-old beat fellow American Tony Finau in a play-off. Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick finished tied fifth.


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bourbiza

Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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