World Golf Championships
Trump National Doral
Yards: 7,481 per the scorecard
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Bermudagass; 6,600 square feet on average
Rough: Bermudagrass and ryegrass at 3”
Course Architect: Dick Wilson (1961); Jim McLean (2000); PGA TOUR/Doral (2006); Gil Hanse (2013)
Winner’s Share: $1,530,000
FexExCup Points: 550 to the winner
Defending Champion: Tiger Woods beat Steve Stricker by two shots to win here for his seventh victory in 13 events in this event (multiple courses). He also won for the fourth time on Doral’s Blue Monster.
Dates: March 6-9
Format: Stroke play; 69 players will not be cut.
Notes: As of Monday afternoon, the top 50 players in the OWGR are scheduled to play. This is the first time since the 2012 PGA Championship that all 50 are healthy/entered.
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won the first 14 of 15 events of 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed, Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson and Russell Henley have collected the hardware this year for the stars and stripes. Jason Day is representing the rest of the world as the Australian won the WGC-Match Play last week.
Jimmy Walker and Kevin Stadler remain the only first-time winners this season. There were 12 first-timers in 40 events last year. First-time winners in WGC Events just ain’t happening, gamers.
Young Guns versus Prime Time versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and was joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia and Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua now Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson, 35, joined them at Riviera. Walker has now added TWO more victories to the guys currently in their prime!
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and now Russell Henley, 24, are the twenty-somethings on the board. With Henley’s victory, the Young Guns now have eight wins to the Prime Timers seven.
The Old Guys are playing like old guys as they have zero wins this season. Stuart Appleby, 42, began the day four shots behind and settled for a T8 finish.
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Horse-for-course fans remember any data prior to 2007 is sketchy because the events were not at Doral.
Gil Hanse and his group have also recently redone TPC Boston, host of the Deutsche Bank Championship in the FedExCup Playoffs. Hanse is also designing the 2016 Olympic course is Rio de Janeiro.
Since the WGC started in 1999, Kevin Sutherland is the only winner that has NOT represented his country in a Presidents or Ryder Cup.
In 51 events, only 11 winners have not won a major championship, including the last two, Dustin Johnson at the HSBC Champions and Jason Day in Match Play. I’ll bet those two win a major down the road!
Only Tiger Woods has won this event twice at Doral (2007, 2013).
There has never been a repeat champion since moving to South Florida.
Past Champions in the Field
2013 Tiger Woods -19
2012 Justin Rose -16
2011 Nick Watney -16
2010 Ernie Els -18
2009 Phil Mickelson -19
2007 Tiger Woods -10
Inside the Ropes
The Blue Monster at Trump Doral has always been one of the easier courses on TOUR and has been the home to the WGC-Cadillac Championship since 2007. The average winning score was just over 16-under-par until Tiger Woods, 19-under, took it even lower last season. The Blue Monster, a resort course which plays to par-72, has been destroyed by the elite in world golf year after year. The length of the course wasn’t long enough; the bunkers and water hardly come into play. Tiger Woods made 27 birdies here last year, one off his career best of 28.
Enter Donald Trump.
Trump’s golf group bought Doral last year and The Donald sunk a ton of cash into upgrading not only the entire resort but the Blue Monster as well. To help him in his quest to bring Doral back bigger and better than ever, Trump hired Gil Hanse to reconstruct, redesign and redevelop this old Dick Wilson classic so it fits in the modern era. Hanse, with Trump’s blessing and bankroll, has lengthened holes, tilted fairways, moved tee boxes, expanded water hazards and created more difficult putting surfaces to put the “monster” back into Blue Monster. Every green has been rebuilt. Every bunker has be shifted, shimmied and redesigned.
Hole No. 1: Used to be one of, if not THE, easiest hole on TOUR is now 572 yards long and has water in play on the approach. Risk or reward is back on the table for this par five.
Hole No. 9: Another benign par three now has extra tee boxes that can stretch the hole back to 200 yards.
Hole No. 10: Now plays over 600 yards because of a new teeing area which will bring water into play and the green has been moved back as well to add that distance.
Hole No. 15: Once a straight-forward par-three at 170 yards has been shortened to 150 yards but is now a peninsula green. It’s not The Bear Trap but with water on three sides and any kind of wind, players will have to hold their nerve on Sunday.
Hole No. 18: Now with trees up the right with the traditional water remaining to the left, there is even less room to bail out from the tee box. No. 18 is one of the hardest, non-major holes on TOUR annually and it might climb that list after this year!
Luke Donald remarked via Twitter (@LukeDonald) that “course definitely has a very different feel about it. Aesthetically it is much better. Greens are bigger and angles off the tees aren’t as awkward. A few holes are much tougher but players will hit more fairways and greens so scoring will stay similar to previous years IMO (in my opinion). Overall, it’s definitely an improvement.”
Doral has been a haven for ball-strikers and with the lengthened par fives, it sounds like again it will set up for the power players. The new green complexes should be interesting and will give the putters hope. The thicker rough will help those with tremendous short games. It sounds like a little something for everyone! Everyone that is a premium player, that is!