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Sunday, March 3, 2013

WGC-Cadillac Championship - Preview

With two tournaments to cover this week, it's time to buckle in, hold on tight and hope for the best. We will begin our preview with the WGC-Cadillac Championship, then cover the Puerto Rico Open in a post to follow.

Doral's TPC Blue Monster Course will serve as the backdrop for the second WGC event of the 2013 season. It's a 7,334 par 72 boasting four par 5s, four par 3s and 10 par 4s. There are opportunities to score on this course, especially for the longer hitters. Doral has hosted this event since 2007, and has a list of winners that include Tiger Woods, Geoff Ogilvy, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Nick Watney and Justin Rose.

It's a little bit redundant to look at the list of winners and immediately notice that the list is an elite one, given it's a WGC, but that's the truth. I also look at that list as including pretty strong drivers of the golf ball. Tiger's win came in 2007, if that adds some perspective. You could argue that the driving theory may not apply to Ogilvy, but history will likely show that Ogilvy was in the prime of his career when that win occurred  less than two years after his win at Winged Foot.

My biggest advice for Doral this week is to understand the class of the field. I'm going to list the top 10 from last year's Cadillac Championship, and I believe that you will agree that most - maybe all - of these guys were in the midst of a season that supports their finish rather than renders it a fluke.

1 - Justin Rose - He's one of the world's elite entering the prime of his career. He played in the Ryder Cup last year.
2 - Bubba Watson - This win precipitated his Masters win.
3 - Rory McIlroy - Came just after he became World No. 1 with a win at The Honda Classic the week prior and precipitated a season where he scored his second major.
T4 - Peter Hanson - Scored a Ryder Cup berth and earned enough cash as a non-member to nab a 2013 PGA TOUR card.
T4 - Charl Schwartzel - May be on of the few in this group that didn't experience immediate success before or after, but enters this year's tournament with several wins and solid form dating back to late 2012.
T6 - Luke Donald - Is anyone ever surprised when Luke's in the top 10 anywhere?
T6- John Senden - Great ball-striker gives him a chance when the putter cooperates, but he was not in the class of this field last year.
T8 - Keegan Bradley - Won the most recent major prior to this event last year and won a WGC later in 2012.
T8 - Matt Kuchar - See Luke Donald's comment.
T8 - Steve Stricker - Winner in 2012 and Ryder Cup member.
T8 - Bo Van Pelt - Didn't he finish T8 every week in 2012?

Not to beat a dead horse, but the point is that when you consider the results of a world-class field on a fair course that allows for some low numbers, you get an equally impressive leaderboard. Oh, and you may want to bookmark the results for the point of a Masters preview in a little over a month. Watson won in 2012. Hanson played in the final pairing if memory severs. Schwartzel is a Masters winner. If Rose contended at Augusta, I don't think anyone would be surprised. Woods and Mickelson are past champs.

We will get the power rankings ready for tomorrow and also return with a Puerto Rico Open preview sooner rather than later.

Happy research!

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