Tiger Woods proved his mettle again winning his 76th-career TOUR victory on Sunday at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at TPC Blue Monster at Trump Doral, Florida as he posted 19-under-par for a two-shot victory. American Steve Stricker (-17) held on to second place alone while Australian Adam Scott, Spaniard Sergio Garcia, American Phil Mickelson and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell shared T3 three shots back at 14-under-par 274.
Woods posted a 54-holed lead of four strokes and that was plenty to see him hold on and win for the 76th time in his career. His round of one-under-par 71 on Sunday saw him post a total of 269 for his 17th World Golf Championship Victory and his seventh career victory at this event. Woods has now won seven times at the WGC-Cadillac Championship (multiple courses), Torrey Pines, Bay Hill and Memorial. I’m still wondering why I didn’t include him in my GolfChannel.com fantasy game this week. I missed out on his $1,500,000 winner's prize; he can keep the 550 FedExCup points.
Tiger Woods has now proven, without a doubt in my mind, that he is the definition of “horse-for-course”. When in doubt, select him and move on. Why? One, he is currently healthy. He hinted over the last two years that he would love to see where his game would be if he could practice and dedicate the time that he thought was necessary to play at his level. Asked and answered. He’s now won five times since March of 2012 and we’ve just begun March of 2013. Two, the level HE set back in the mid 00’s will never be attained again but watching him NOT find ways to put his golf ball in trouble is now troubling for his competition. The wedge play is back; the errant tee ball was not around this weekend; and every six-footer for par was finding nothing but the bottom of the cup.
Look. He’s no longer the “automatic” pick that he was back in those days, but his game this week, on a course he dominates, has shown the fantasy investor that he should still be put on a pedestal some weeks. When he’s not knocking the tee ball all over the course nor sculling wedges from 100 yards, he’s exactly what fantasy golfers want to see: a sure thing on the weekends. That wasn’t the case last year but this year, with two stroke-play wins in three events on U.S. soil, I’m starting to believe that he’s healthy, happy and dialed in. Fade him at your own recourse.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
Americans are now 10-for-10 to open the 2013 season.
Woods is the only multiple winner on TOUR this season.
In seven of the nine stroke-play events this season the 54-hole leader (or co-leader) has gone on to victory. In 2012, this was the exact opposite trend.
Woods has now won PGA TOUR events seven times at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. This is the fourth event where he has achieved seven wins. Read that again slowly.
The ten winners on TOUR have been Johnson (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods TWICE (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar (34) and Thompson, M (27). The young folks are trying to catch up with the 30-somethings and the “old folks” are stuck on one win. Steve Stricker, father time, gave the best run for the “old guys” this week as he battled to a solo second place finish.
Remember, when this tournament is played, ONLY the big boys hit the top 10 and this year was not any different. This is the WORST tournament to take fliers or long shots based on the history of the leaderboard. Sometimes you just have to take the chalk and ride out the storm.
Here’s the top 10 and we learned about them:
Steve Stricker: For a man that’s decided only to play a handful of events in 2013, it looks like his decision is paying off smartly. In his third event of the year, he’s now finished 2nd at HTOC, T5 at the WGC-Match Play and now solo second two shots behind Tiger Woods at Doral. His wife was on the bag this week. His putter was putting like his putter usually does and he throttled at course, Doral, where in the last five years his worst start was T18. He’s proven his worth again in a big event on a course he’s comfortable playing.
Adam Scott: After opening rounds of 72-70, Scott found himself comfortably off the pace this week but he showed again why he shouldn’t be dismissed anywhere when he tees it up after his 68-64 weekend to finish in the quartet T3. His 14 birdies on top of only two bogeys showed me that the Aussie is ready to bust out and make a move on 2013. His two double bogeys from Thursday and Friday just underscore this statement that a big finish could be just around the corner.
Sergio Garcia: He returned to the top 10 for the first time in five tries at Doral as he fired weekend rounds of 67-69 to finish in T3 as well. Garcia has now placed T13 and T3 this week in his only two stroke-play events on TOUR this season. His solid ball-striking and better than average putting are now pushing him into the “must-evaluate” category every time he tees it up.
Phil Mickelson: And the mystery continues! After T60 and T21 in his last two starts, Mickelson skipped the WGC-Match Play (again) and left us all with a “what if” thought on our minds. Congrats to you who can look through the bullPhil and figure out when this great player will show up on a weekend. He was 10-under heading into the weekend but a double on Saturday and three bogeys on Sunday saw him make noise but not contend on a course where his best finish (besides his win in 2009) was T14 in 10 career starts. Always interesting!
Graeme McDowell: The last man in the field to make a bogey had Woods’ attention heading into the weekend but the best that the 2010 U.S. Open Champion could do was finish three shots back of Woods on the weekend to finish T3. He began Saturday two behind and started Sunday four back but the Northern Irishman reminded us again that he smashes fairways and has a nasty short game that looks to being close to being ready to win again. He’ll be on my radar on I believe his game sets up perfectly for Merion for the U.S. Open.
Keegan Bradley: I was impressed with his performance last week at The Honda Classic and thought he would be ready to go this week at Doral. He didn’t disappoint as he made three eagles against just five bogeys. Heck, Bradley only made 11 birdies this week so he’s proven again that he’s a hot commodity when par is a relevant score and bogeys are to be damned. He finished T7 this week and if you were confused, he’s really good, pay attention!
Rory McIlroy: I gave “Rors” his own segment in the preview column this week and for good measure. He acquitted himself quite nicely in his Wednesday press conference and sounded like he was truly aghast at his behavior from The Honda Classic. Words are cheap; actions catch my attention. He proved this week that when he stays on course, he’s capable of pretty special things. His Thursday and Friday rounds were forgettable but he managed to slug out 71-65 on the weekend to finish T8. His 65 was just one off Adam Scott’s 64 for low round of the day on Sunday. Imagine what this kid will do when his wisdom teeth are yanked out?
Justin Rose: One of the hottest hands entering this week, the defending champion only made TWO bogeys the entire week but two doubles hurt his chances of moving up the leaderboard past T8. Not bad after his T4 last week that he throws another top 10 on the board this week defending his championship.
Peter Hanson: The Swede backed his T4 in 2012 with T8 in 2013 as he rode the wave of his opening round 67 to a 10-under finish. Hanson was the 36-hole leader at Augusta last year and has very nice (minus last year) record in the U.S. Open as well. He’s shown that large fields don’t deter him from playing solid golf. He’s a Ryder-Cupper for a reason people!
Michael Thompson: Bravo “Slick”! You saw your opening and you took it after your victory last week at The Honda Classic. You showed that you weren’t fazed or psyched out by a big field and you continued to play YOUR game this week. It’s no picnic to chase the best players in golf, even in a no-cut event, but you showed me this week that you will continue to belong. In his last 9 months, Thompson has finished T2 at the U.S. Open, WON at The Honda Classic and hit the top 10 (T8) at a WGC event. Start following along, folks, even you, Norm MacDonald! (Thanks for reading, man!)
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
I take a look back at what happened to the chalk
Dustin Johnson: His T12 reaffirmed belief in plenty of gamers who thought maybe he was just a bit too enamored by Ms. Gretzky. Form is temporary; class is permanent and bringing an almost top 10 finish in a WGC event shows that he is Dustin Johnson-ier than he was last week…
Charl Schwartzel: Five bogeys on Sunday took him from an easy top 10 finish to T12. This is his second-consecutive worst finish in stroke-play events in two weeks. Yes, he was T9 last week and T12 this week. Not a bad run in four months!
Matt Kuchar: 72-72-72-71. His worst finish in three events in the last three years here was T8. His T35 ruined my one-and-done (again). No worry, his track record over the last three years will just see this as a bump in the road.
Luke Donald: The world No. 3 player double bogeyed the No. 18 hole at Doral ALL FOUR DAYS. His T43 was by far his worst finish at Doral in 10 starts (T26). Bro, seven iron, seven-iron, wedge, putt! He’ll defend next week at Innisbrook outside of Tampa.