The world’s best golfers are in Florida this week for the second World Golf Championship event of 2014. Tiger Woods defends the WGC-Cadillac Championship over the Blue Monster, Trump National Doral but is struggling with a back injury.
With a field of just 69, this event is open to the top-50 ranked players on the Official World Golf Ranking, together with a selection of leading golfers from various money lists across the globe. Due to the limited field, there is no 36-hole cut.
Since it was first hosted in 1999, Tiger Woods has won this event seven times, most recently last season when he finished two clear of Steve Stricker. Tiger withdrew from last week’s Honda Classic with recurring lower back spasms, so his participation this week could be in doubt.
The European Tour will be well represented with 33 members on the start sheet. Rory McIlroy will be looking to make amends after his playoff loss in last week’s Honda Classic and, with Tiger’s injury in mind, he will start this tournament as many people’s favourite.
England’s Justin Rose won this event in 2012 and he’ll be looking to draw on good memories from this tournament venue, although he too has injury concerns and it remains to be seen if he’s recovered.
Originally designed by Dick Wilson, the Blue Monster has played host to PGA Tour events for almost half a century. The Doral Open was contested over the layout between 1962 and 2006.
This season will give the players a first glimpse of the heavily re-designed layout at Trump National Doral. Gil Hanse has completed a total overhaul of the course, so much so that Hanse himself has described the track as a new golf course.
All 18 holes have a new measurement – eight are shorter than previously and 10 are longer – the total yardage is up to 7,481 yards. The idea is that the course will now present more of a test for the world’s best. In recent seasons the winning total has been around the 20-under-par mark, but that looks likely to change this year.
Venue: Blue Monster, Trump National Doral, Florida
Date: Mar 6-9
Course stats: par 72, 7,481 yards
Purse: $9,000,000 Winner: $1,530,000
Defending Champion: Tiger Woods (-19)
Thursday 6 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Friday 7 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Saturday 8 – Sky Sports 4 from 5pm
Sunday 9 – Sky Sports 4 from 5pm
Rory McIlroy – He’s proved in the past he can bounce back from disappointing results – see 2011 Masters and U.S. Open. He’s clearly on great form and, when playing his very best, few can live with him.
Russell Henley – Playoff winner last week, Henley could use that as a springboard to make a jump to the next level in world golf. He was tied 28th in this event last year.
Graham DeLaet – The Canadian was on superb form at the end of last year and the start of this, with five straight top-10 finishes. Another man capable of taking a step forwards and claiming a win in an event of this stature.
Key Hole: 18th. It remains to be seen which holes will prove decisive after the Hanse re-design, but the 18th is still an extremely challenging par four. Water lurks all down the left side and the fairway is extremely narrow. It generally plays as the hardest hole on the course and always provides the possibility of last-minute drama.