The world’s best golfers are in Florida this week for the second WGC event of 2010. Phil Mickelson defends the CA Championship around the “Blue Monster” at Doral.
The European siege on the top of the World Rankings looks set to continue this week. Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and Henrik Stenson all currently reside in the top-10 on the Ranking, threatening the American trio of Woods, Mickelson and Stricker at the top of the tree. Following Poulter’s success at the Accenture Match Play Championship, a European clean-sweep of the WGC events is still on the cards.
Designed by Dick Wilson and revamped by Ray Floyd “The Blue Monster” is famed as a difficult track although the scoring in recent years would suggest otherwise. In 2009, 58 of the 80 starters broke par for the four rounds. In that event, Phil Mickelson collected his first ever WGC title, edging out Nick Watney in a see-saw final round battle.
Of those exempt to play in the CA Championship only two are not competing but their reasons for absence could hardly be more different. Tiger Woods continues to stay away from the competitive game following his public admission of infidelity. Ryo Ishikawa, on the other hand, will not be at Doral because he’s graduating from High School.
Venue: Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Florida
Date: Mar 11-14
Course stats: par 72, 7,266 yards
Purse: $8,500,000 Winner: $1,400,000
Defending Champion: Phil Mickelson (-19)
Thursday 11 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 7pm
Friday 12 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 7pm
Saturday 13 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 7pm
Sunday 14 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 7pm
Steve Stricker – The World number two won on his last outing in a strokeplay event (Riviera). He has a solid record in this tournament and the course suits his consistent style of play.
Paul Casey – He sneaked into the top-four at last week’s Honda Classic with a fine closing round. He’s almost back to the form he showed prior to last year’s injury. When he gets back to that level, he’ll be tough to beat.
Phil Mickleson – The defending champion will be looking to lift his game after a slow start to 2010. This event could be where we see “Lefty” shift up a gear.
Key hole: 18th. At 467 yards, this infamous par 4 often ranks amongst the very hardest on the PGA Tour. The fairway is tricky to find from the tee – just 25 yards wide at its narrowest point, then the approach requires nerves of steel. The green is long and thin with water down the left side. It takes a brave man to fire at the back left pin position on Sunday afternoon.
Skills required: Making birdies. Given recent rainfall, the greens look like being receptive on “The Blue Monster,” so expect to see approach shots peppering the pins. It’ll be the man who can convert the chances most effectively who’ll walk off with the $1.4 million first prize.