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Sunday, March 2, 2014

WGC-Cadillac Championship

The WGC-Cadilliac Championship returns to the Blue Monster…sort of. Since Tiger Woods took down last year’s elite field, Gil Hanse has completely redesigned the course, with reports stating that it is barely a shell of what it was 12 months ago. Now, we have Blue Monster, Trump National Doral.

Last year the course played as a 7,334 par 72, but it now stretches out to 7,481 yards. One of the biggest yardage differences will be noticed right off the bat as the par-5 first has been lengthened by roughly 80 yards. So, what was essentially a long par 4 last year will now be a par 5 that only a portion of the field can reach.

Water is also expected to be even more present than it was before, with the par-3 15th perhaps serving as the biggest benefactor of that change.

While reviews of the new course design are very sparse, what seems to be a common theme is the importance of length and accuracy, especially off the tee.

The nightmare for gamers and punters is how to treat past course history at Doral. This event has been contested at Doral since 2007, so we have seven years of returns from which to pull. Let’s hit the pause button and look at the winners and runners-up since 2007.

  • 2007 – Winner: Tiger Woods (-10); Runner-Up: Brett Wetterich (-8)
  • 2008 – Winner: Geoff Ogilvy (-17); Runner-up: Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh (-16)
  • 2009 – Winner: Phil Mickelson (-19); Runner-up: Nick Watney (-18)
  • 2010 – Winner: Ernie Els (-18); Runner-up: Charl Schwartzel (-14)
  • 2011 – Winner: Nick Watney (-16); Runner-up: Dustin Johnson (-14)
  • 2012 – Winner: Justin Rose (-16); Runner-up: Bubba Watson (-15)
  • 2013- Winner: Tiger Woods (-19); Runner-up: Steve Stricker (-17)

Many of the names listed above are long, and some are excellent in total driving (factoring in accuracy). With the exception of maybe a Jim Furyk and Retief Goosen, I would generally classify all of these guys as at least average in length, with many well above average.  The reality is, that probably isn't going to change.

My approach will include a look at past success, but I won’t rely on someone just because they are a course horse. I could see any number of scenarios playing out, but all of them include length and some degree of putting prowess. Rory McIlroy, anyone?

Rather than just recklessly throwing any more names out, we will return tomorrow with a power ranking. Until then, happy research!

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