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Monday, March 3, 2014

WGC-Cadillac Championship - Power Rankings

With Rory McIlroy’s collapse / Russell Henley’s win at The Honda Classic behind us, it’s time to try and solve the puzzle of the WGC-Cadillac Championship and the new Doral. Feel free to refer back to yesterday’s preview for a refresher if needed.

Typically when compiling the power rankings, I try and keep things as scientific as possible. I weigh course history, form and statistical metrics and try and let the numbers / data lead where it chooses. That’s not so much the case this week. I tried to let previous course history at what remains of the Blue Monster have a say in developing the short list, and I took a stab at what should be a relevant concoction of stats, but in the end I ranked the field based on good ole gut instinct and current form.

Here’s hoping the drink served up rises to the occasion!
  1. Dustin Johnson – We all know he’s long, but at third in ball-striking and 17th in Proximity he jumps off the page statistically. That he has two recent runner-up finishes is a huge check mark. His finishes at Doral have been all over the board, but with one of those a runner-up he is a sound leadoff hitter.
  2. Sergio Garcia – Dude’s been solid. His last seven worldwide finishes (oldest to newest) are 4, T2, 1, T19, 1, T9, T8. Given everyone is starting from a fresh slate at Doral, he has an excellent chance to rise to the top.
  3. Rory McIlroy – I’m not too worried about his Honda collapse. One way to look at it is that he’s right on track. The 2013 season was an off year by all standards, so he’s gone from showing “signs” in one round to dominating for 54 holes. Arguably 68 holes. If he finds his lines off the tee and shows up confident, I may have him too low.
  4. Bubba Watson – Bubba is first in driving distance, ball-striking and Proximity. He won at Riviera, tied for second at the WMPO and tied for ninth at the Match Play. He also has a runner-up at Doral. Gamers can’t ask for much more…..well other than for him to fulfill his potential this week.
  5. Hunter Mahan – I have one of those dangerous “feelings” about Mahan. He’s flirted with some big weeks lately, with three top 10s in his last four starts. His best finish in six starts at the old Doral was a ninth, so perhaps the redesign is just what he needs. He’s the least logical inclusion at this point, but why not scratch the itch of a gut feel in a week like this?
  6. Adam Scott – In his three 2014 starts, he’s T6, T8 and T12. And he’s Adam Scott.
  7. Keegan Bradley – Missed a golden opportunity to shoot a decent final round from far enough back to steal a win last week, but has been a top-20 machine this year. He’s close and he’s due.
  8. Jason Day – He hasn’t been a fit at Doral in the past, but with a runner-up and a Match Play win in his last three starts there’s no reason to let him fall past this point.
  9. Jordan Spieth – Two top-five finishes in his last three starts, including a T5 in the WGC two weeks ago, has the kid ready for the spotlight of another WGC.
  10. Matt Kuchar – Missed the cut at Riviera after a lengthy holiday and then tied for ninth in his Match Play title defense (losing to Spieth, if memory serves), hints that his form is back in line. Had two top fives in four past starts at Doral pre-redesign, so we’ll see if the fresh coat of paint suits his eye.
  11. Harris English – Hasn’t finished higher than ninth or lower than 10th in his last three starts. A Doral rookie, but if ever that doesn’t matter it’s this week.
  12. Webb Simpson – Won the battle for the 12th spot due to his consistency over the past few months. Was beginning to trend at Doral, so we’ll see if he can maintain the positive vibes.

Next 5: Luke Donald, Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell, Jimmy Walker and Tiger Woods

The eclectic field at Doral means there are several other people that have earned a hard look, but I couldn’t find room for them above. I realize that my top 12 / next five are all regular PGA TOUR players, so consider that to be an admission that I’m leaning towards familiarity with U.S. courses. Perhaps even a bias.

Either way, take a good look at these three:
  • George Coetzee – T4, T5, 1, T9. Those are his last four finishes across the globe, with the T9 coming at Dove Mountain.
  • Matteo Manassero – Young Italian playing like a stallion, with a T17 at the Match Play and a T12 at The Honda Classic. Only played once at Doral, but acquainted himself well with a T23.
  • Francesco Molinari – He was well on his way to figuring Doral out before the redesign, with three top 15s and a T3 in four trips. A T40 at the Northern Trust Open and a first-round loss at the Match Play are a reason to pause for concern. 

We will return tomorrow with a look at the fantasy formats.

1 comment:

  1. How about a Steve Stricker....solid course history here ...although as we know that may not matter too much...but seems to be as good a bet for a top 10 as anyone else in every tournament he plays....I am also not sure where else to use him this year...other than of course his favorite course but I am leaning towards that being a Zach Johnson / Spieth combo simply because that course seems to favor the perennial favorites...