World Golf Championship-Cadillac Classic
TPC Blue Monster at Trump Doral
TPC Blue Monster
Yards: 7,334 per the scorecard
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Bermudagrass (6,600 square feet on average)
Rough: Bermudagrass with perennial ryegrass at 3”
Water Hazards: 11
Course Architect: Dick Wilson & Robert von Haggins (1961); Jim McLean (2000); PGA TOUR/Doral (2006)
Winner’s Share: $1,500,000
FexExCup Points: 550 to the winner
Defending Champion: Justin Rose won his first WGC title by catching and passing 54-hole leader Bubba Watson by one shot.
Dates: March 6-9
Notes: There is no cut as the field of 65, including the top 50 in the OWGR, will play four rounds of stroke play.
The Blue Monster, now called the TPC Blue Monster, was refurbished in 2006 to bring in the World Golf Championships beginning in 2007.
Please remember, any data on this event BEFORE 2007 took place at other courses around the world. This event has been played at Doral since 2007 so that’s what I’m looking at for horses-for-courses. Past performances at the Ford Championships from the TOUR will be factored in this week.
Since moving to Doral in 2007, no player has defended his championship.
The last six winners have rotated between American and international players.
Tiger Woods (2007) won at 10-under-par with the highest winning score.
Geoff Ogilvy (2008) won at 17-under as the weather cooperated. Ogilvy is in this week’s field after his solo second last week at The Honda Classic.
Phil Mickelson (2009) won at 19-under and has set the lowest mark in this event.
Ernie Els (2010) fired 18-under and won by four shots, which is the largest margin by any winner since 2007.
Nick Watney (2011) posted 16-under to claim his first WGC title.
Justin Rose (2012) also posted 16-under in his victory last year.
This year should be an American, non-major winner, right?
The average winning score is 16 under par and that has been the winning score the last two years.
Doral has been the longest standing tournament host site since its inception in 1962. The final Ford Championship at Doral took place in 2006 before this event turned into a WGC Championship.
Rank and File
By my count, as of Monday afternoon, 49 of the top 50 OWGR players are in the field this week. Only Brandt Snedeker (rib injury) is not playing this week.
All six former champions are in the field this week as well.
The TPC Blue Monster rated the 38th-easiest course of the 49 played in 203 on TOUR. Doral is known for its water hazards, tight driving holes and quick greens but has shown over the last six years that players must post a number to win. With four par-fives, it’s no wonder that the big hitters have thrived on this 7,334 yard par-72 course. Where professionals here the word “resort” they know they are going to have to go low to win which is the complete opposite of last week’s wind-swept event at The Honda Classic.
With the best players in the world lining up this week, there is absolutely no point of heading off the reservation to find players. I’ll be looking at players will successes on Bermudagrass greens and can take advantage of par-fives. As we have seen, there have been no “surprise” winners in this event and looking over the top 20 from the last few years, there are not, if any, guys from “off the beaten path” there. That being said, Michael Thompson whipped a better than average field last week at The Honda Classic after coming off rounds of 78-80 at Riviera. This field should make that problem obsolete this week.
Here’s the good news: everyone cashes a check this week because there is no cut so remember that when putting together your one-and-done picks.
Top 10, Plus One
Justin Rose: Last year’s champion is looking the part again this year as he is rounding into form coming off last week’s T4 at The Honda Classic. His ball-striking was “off” by his standards yet he found a way to climb into the top five. From tee to green there aren’t many better in the business and with a premium on hitting fairways and greens this week, he should flourish again.
Charl Schwartzel: The only disappointing week for Schwartzel in the last five months was his first round KO at the WGC-Match Play. Well, actually was his worst stroke-play finish was last week, T9. Yes, T9. He was second here in 2010, T24 in 2011 and T4 last year.
Matt Kuchar: The WGC-Match Play champ has shown he has no regard for who’s in the field any time he tees it up. In the last year he’s won THE PLAYERS and a WGC event so don’t be worried that you might be taking him too high in your games. He’s played this event three times and has finished T3 in 2010, fifth in 2011 and T8 last year. Sold.
Tiger Woods: I can’t throw him out based on his six wins on this track. He was playing quite decently here last year before having his Achilles act up on him, forcing his WD. Since that WD, he’s gone on to win three times on tracks he’s torn up in the past so he SHOULD factor this week. There are plenty of problems off the tee, yes, but he has 11 top 10s in 12 starts. That’s ridiculous.
Jason Day: He has quietly cashed in the top 10 in three of his first four events including third at WGC-Match Play last month. He has no problem grinding it out as his superb short-game can carry him through tough spells during rounds. It looks like he’s finally settled down in the States and his game is reflecting that.
Luke Donald: With the way he drives the golf ball and the way he commands his short game, it’s no wonder why Donald will make this list in every tournament he enters. He enters his 10th event at this course and his worst finish is T26 three times. Five other times he was T11 or better including T6 the last two events here.
Keegan Bradley: I thought he might break through last week in his backyard but his game is getting closer and closer. He’s over the “cheater” comments and back to drilling greens and holing putts. Remember, he was right in the thick of it last year before a Sunday back-nine 41 sunk his chances. He’ll be in the thick of it again this year.
Bubba Watson: Speaking of being right in it, Watson carried the 54-hole lead into Sunday before a front-nine 39 gave Justin Rose the lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Watson has battled illness to start 2013 but he’s feeling stronger each tournament. Should I be worried that the new “Golf Boyz” video is out? NO CHANCE!
Hunter Mahan: Hey, look! Another Golf Boy! Mahan has one round over par in his last 12 and finished second in the WGC-Match Play his last time out. He’d be ranked higher on this list but his form on this course only registers one top 10 in five tries. His second best finish is T24. He’s hot right now so I’m still bullish regardless of the history.
Steve Stricker: Ok, he’s played twice, I know, but in those two events he’s second and T5. He proved to me at Match Play that the layoff was more helpful than hurtful and once you look at his record at Doral, it’s impossible to leave him off. Here’s his run since 2007: T35, T6, T13, T16, T18 and T8 last year. There are worse chances to take this week by far.
Lee Westwood: The “Plus One” this week, Westwood was again close to cashing the top prize but couldn’t catch Luke Guthrie or Michael Thompson last week at Honda so you know he’s getting close to putting all four rounds together. His recent history here is not encouraging but he’s seen this course plenty of times and his improved short game, combined with his sweet ball-striking should make him a factor this week.
What’s up with Rory?
As we did with Tiger Woods last year, McIlroy will now have a section devoted him weekly until he breaks out of his slump. It worked for Woods last year so don’t laugh.
McIlroy is back this week and this will be his final tournament before he has his wisdom teeth pulled. He hasn’t broken par in three events, nor has he made the cut. He poses a huge question in weekly games: To pick or not to pick. The upside? He has enough talent to break out at any second. The downside? He showed last week that he might become disinterested when things don’t go his way. I suggested to a reader last week that was trying to figure out whether to take him or Graeme McDowell on the Yahoo! game that he takes a wait-and-see approach because there was nothing in those first events that said to “waste” a start on him. I suggest using those 10 events when he’s shown some course form. I stand by that again this week.