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East County Wednesday, Mar. 3, 2021 1 year ago

World's best golfers hoping for a return to The Concession

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Players on the PGA Tour enjoyed the course during the WGC event last weekend.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Editor

Now that the PGA Tour's World Golf Championships at The Concession is over, with Collin Morikawa winning at 18 under par, the question turns to what is next for The Concession Golf Club's future with the Tour?

Prior to the event, PGA Tour Executive Vice President-International Ty Votaw said one of the biggest keys to Concession landing another high-profile tournament — perhaps even a major championship — would be the reaction of the players. If they continue to sing the course's praises after the tournament ends, he said, that's a positive sign. 

The true staying power of the course in players' minds won't be known for a while. According to PGA Tour officials, that and a variety of other factors, like previously-scheduled events and the flow of the Tour, makes forecasting the next tournament to come to the club difficult. However, a look at comments made during the tournament can reveal their general feelings on Concession, and the comments were overwhelmingly positive. 

After the second round, Billy Horschel favorably compared the course to Augusta National Golf Club, the site of the Master's Tournament. 

Billy Horschel, who finished 15 under par (T2), said he would love to return to The Concession and compared the greens to the greens at Augusta National Golf Club.

"These greens are almost like Augusta," Horschel said during his press conference. "In the sense that you've got to be smart of where you're trying to put the ball on the green, or on the proper side of the hole, to have a chance to at least make birdie, [and] hopefully make an easy par if you don't make birdie."

Horschel, who finished tied for second at 15 under par, said he liked that the course forced him to think about where he might miss as much as it forces him to think about where he wants to go. On Sunday, Horschel again professed his reverence for the course when asked if he'd like to see another event at Concession.

"I've always been a big fan of a course that, as I say, you can't fake it," Horschel said. "Maybe you can fake it one or two days, but you can't fake it for four days. And this is one of those courses."

Patrick Reed, the controversial golfer who entered the Workday Championship as the defending champion, was an instant fan.

"This place is awesome," Reed said Feb. 23. "The golf course is in perfect shape and this golf course — from the tee — looks really wide, but you have to have command on the golf ball. The wind will blow, you'll get some of those crosswinds. Whether it's water edges or bunkers, [it] seems to tighten it up. It's one of those that you have to stay aggressive, but at the same time have to have full control of your golf ball."

Rory McIlroy also said he would love to come back for another event. 

"I think this course has been well received this week," McIlroy said. "Maybe there were a couple of greens that are a little severe, a couple of pin placements over the weekend that were maybe a touch severe, but I think when we come back again that the guys who set the golf course up will know that."

Others who said they would like to see a return to the course include Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen and Viktor Hovland. 

Positive feels were not exclusive to the players. Meghan Costello, the Workday Championship's tournament director, said she had a great experience working with Concession and local organizations despite the shortened time to plan the event. Costello said the tournament made a few tweaks during the week, like parking lot shuttle locations and how players crossed from the driving range to the putting green, but otherwise went exactly how she planned. 

"It's always challenging coming to a new site and starting fresh," Costello said. "Getting volunteers, trying to do operational layouts, that sort of thing. But the team here has been awesome to work with. We've had a lot of phone calls. They're probably sick of me."

Costello said she would be thrilled to plan another tournament at the club. Now that she has an idea of where everything should go, she said, it should be an easier process. 

Concession General Manager Brian Weimann joked that the only thing that would have made the weekend better was a bit more wind on the back nine on Sunday. 

"The event is going great," Weimann said. "We are extremely happy."

Weimann said as much fun as he had in person, he had equal amounts of fun watching the tournament on television. It didn't matter if the coverage was showcasing an eagle or a double bogey, he said — it all looked fantastic. 

Morikawa, who became just the second player to win a major championship and a WGC event before turning 25 (Tiger Woods), said he worked with honorary Concession member Paul Azinger before the tournament on his chipping, and that helped him have shorter putts than a lot of his competitors. Morikawa said he's only played in Florida a few times, but he recognized how the slopes come off the greens and felt confident in handling that. He tied the course record with an eight-under-par 64 in round two. 

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I’m the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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