Regular readers would probably keel over in shock if I ever tipped Mickelson in single figures, and even though he’s defending champion here, the idea never crossed my mind. Mickelson’s Doral record is a mixture of two great efforts and seven failures, suggesting he needs to be at the peak of his powers to contend. That hasn’t been the case so far in 2010.
Stricker would make a more worthy favourite in my view, after four wins and several near-misses over the past nine months. There are absolutely no holes in his claim on the recent form front, but there must be a slight concern that he’s never made the top five here in over a decade of trying, even if he wasn’t beaten far in the last two renewals.
Villegas must rate a massive contender once again after thrashing a world-class field at PGA National, especially as he’s twice made the top five before at Doral. Winning back-to-back is never easy, but the Colombian has done it before in 2008. Nevertheless, having spent the last three weekends in permanent contention, Camilo could be forgiven for any slight drop in his performance level.
Casey would be first reserve were any of my selections to withdraw. He looks very close to the outstanding form of last spring, and a huge contender for all the forthcoming big prizes. The only thing that put me off a bet is that Casey’s previous Doral form is only moderate, and last year’s 31st was by one of only two failures during a magical five-month period.
If Furyk is to end a drought dating back nearly three years, Doral is a likely a venue as any. He’s already won here back in 2000, finished third last year and runner-up in 2007. In total, he’s made the top ten on six of his last nine visits. This Florida resident is a master putter of these Bermuda greens, and will be hard to keep out of the frame.
Sunday’s top ten was Lee’s 13th from his last 16 events. An outstanding record that confirms he is at his peak, and rates a contender every time he tees it up. He’s finished outside the top 30 on both previous visits though.
Likewise, Poulter rates a strong English challenger for all the big prizes this year, having already landed the WGC-Match Play. He’s twice made the top 20 here, before the recent marked improvement in his game and status, and fared pretty well at Scottsdale.
Rory made a big impression on last year’s Doral debut, challenging strongly till halfway before slipping back to a still respectable 20th. He’ll probably win this one day along with everything else, but for now there must be grave doubts that he’ll hole enough putts to keep up with the pace.
Another player who was only reluctantly left out of the staking plan. Kim’s last two efforts have strongly suggested he’s back to something like the outstanding levels of 2008, and were it not for one ruinous round in each he could well have been celebrating a win.
Goosen has twice made the top three on this course, and registered very consistent figures over the past year without ever looking flawless. There are worse 40/1 bets.
The dual Pebble Beach champion remains very much one to follow in 2010 and has the extreme driving distance to do some serious damage at Doral. He’s yet to make a single top 30 in Florida though, which could be down to the greens.
My first instinct was that 40/1 about Kaymer is way too big, because the German is fast rising to the game’s pinnacle. On reflection though, these odds reflect the fact that he hasn’t really broken through in the States as yet, although it is only a matter of time.
Despite last week’s surprising missed cut, Allenby must still be considered as one of the most in-form players. He resides in Florida and has a good record in this region, even if his only competitive effort from eight tries at Doral came when third in 2007; the one year when scoring was tough.
The fact that Vijay can still finish fourth in a big event as on Sunday, despite looking incapable of holing a putt from almost any distance, is testimony to his long-game skills. Vijay has contended several times at Doral previously, making the top five on six occasions including when runner-up in 2008. Surely the scoring will be too low, though.
There was still no sign of Padraig’s best at PGA National, and it doesn’t bode well that his highest finish from four visits to Doral is just 19th.
Ernie’s certainly had his moments at this venue, winning the title in 2002 and throwing it away in 1999. He was bitterly disappointing last week, however, and is unlikely to enjoy the likely putting contest.