The WGC Championship started life as a globe-trotting event. The first few editions were held in Spain, England, Ireland as well as America before. That international feel was fitting for a World Golf Championship event but it soon settled into a long term American host at Trump National Doral. 10 years of high-class fields competing at Doral were enjoyable but there was real excitement when the event moved to Mexico City in 2017 for the WGC Mexico Championship.
Club de Golf Chapultepec was a novel introduction to the top level of professional golf but its time as host was abruptly brought to an end in 2021 when travel restrictions and health concerns made a trip to Mexico unworkable. In stepped a new sponsor in Workday and a new host course in The Concession. The WGC Workday Championship was originally only supposed to take place for one year but it was announced that it will return in 2022 potentially marking the start of a new long term host for this prestigious event.
|2021||The Concession Golf Club||Collin Morikawa|
|2020||Club de Golf Chapultepec||Patrick Reed|
|2019||Club de Golf Chapultepec||Dustin Johnson|
|2018||Club de Golf Chapultepec||Phil Mickelson|
2021: Collin Morikawa
The plan was never for the WGC Workday Championship to leave Mexico City in 2021. Plans have been ripped up all over the world over the last year though and the job for sportspeople everywhere is to roll with the punches and make the best of things. Collin Morikawa has already proved that he can cope with the strangeness of golf currently. Belying his lack of experience, Morikawa won the PGA Championship played behind closed doors in 2020 and it was he who best coped with the changing picture at the WGC Workday Championship, winning by three strokes.
So much about professional golf is still new for Morikawa. He is learning all the time so it is perhaps not surprising that he was able to learn a new golf course so quickly. After a decent first round of 70, he shot a remarkable 64 on Friday. He maintained that forward momentum with a 67 on Saturday which made him the man the others were aiming at on Sunday.
Viktor Hovland, Brooks Koepka and Billy Horschel are all multiple PGA Tour winners and they were the players who provided the biggest threat to Morikawa on Sunday. Rather than worrying about what they were doing, Morikawa set about making sure the chasers were worried about him. A controlled round of 69 made life too tough for the chasing pack and saw Morikawa close out a win that looked almost comfortable.
2020: Patrick Reed
Part of the reason behind the decision to move the WGC Championship to Mexico was so the World Golf Championships would better live up to their name and become less USA-centric. It has worked in that the eyes of the golfing world are trained on Mexico during this week but for the fourth year in a row, the title went the way of an American. Patrick Reed beat fellow countryman Bryson DeChambeau by one shot in Mexico City for a win that clearly meant a lot.
Reed doesn’t court controversy but often finds himself in the centre of a storm of criticism. Whether you think Reed is a cheat, bends the rules or is unfairly criticised, you have to admire his ability to block out the noise and get on with the task at hand. Any idea that it doesn’t affect him was ended by his reaction to his putt dropping on the 17th hole during the final round. He yelled, he fist-pumped, then he turned around to the galleries and yelled and fist pumped some more. That putt and this win meant an awful lot to Reed.
With adrenaline pumping having hauled himself into the lead, Reed did very well to calm himself down and see the tournament out with a mistake-free trip up the 18th. That calmness continued to his post-round media duties where he spoke calmly about the work he had put in but that reaction on 17 showed what he really felt.
2019: Dustin Johnson
When the World Golf Championships first turned up in Mexico City the talk was about how the players would calculate the effects of altitude. Various methods were employed by the players at Club de Golf Chapultepec but nobody was as relaxed about the challenge ahead as Dustin Johnson. His typically laid back approach secured the win in 2017 and it was more of the same as Johnson doubled up in Mexico with his win in the 2019 WGC Mexico Championship.
Johnson was pushed all the way two years earlier but it was much more serene for him in 2019. He finished the tournament five shots clear of Rory McIlroy in second place, reaching a score of -21, the third-lowest winning score in the tournament’s history. When Johnson is in this mood and this form he can be impossible to stop. That’s how McIlroy saw it, summing up the final round as a no contest. “His drives are going 380 down the middle of the fairway and he’s holding most of the putts he looks at,” said McIlroy.
As for the man himself, he was delighted but typically understated with his 20th PGA Tour title. “I’m definitely very proud of myself for that,” said Johnson. “It’s a big accomplishment. It’s tough enough to get one win out here. I want to keep going as long as I can but it’s been a lot of hard work and it’s paying off right now.”
2018: Phil Mickelson
The first edition of the newly named WGC Mexico Championship was a resounding success in 2017 and golf fans were treated to another cracking tournament 12 months on. A typically strong but eclectic leaderboard served up a cracking battle during the final round with Phil Mickelson just about edging out Justin Thomas in a playoff.
It had been 101 tournaments without a win for Mickelson heading into this week. The longest drought of his career must have dented his confidence and left him wondering whether his time competing against the best in the world was over. He must have thought that fate was conspiring against him as well at Club de Golf Chapultepec. Mickelson was heading for a win inside 72 holes before Thomas made an eagle with a wedge on the final hole.
Mickelson drew on all of his experience and the confidence that had steadily built over the week to put that disappointment behind him and win the tournament on the first playoff hole. “I can’t put into words how much this means to me,” said Mickelson after lifting the trophy. “I knew it was going to be soon – I’ve been playing too well for it not to be. But you just never know until it happens.” It happened, Phil, and on this showing, it won’t be the final win of a hall of fame career.