The world’s best golfers are in Florida this week for the second World Golf Championship event of 2013. Justin Rose defends the WGC – Cadillac Championship over the TPC “Blue Monster” at Doral.
With a field of just 65, 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 six times, although his last victory was in 2007 – the first time this event was held over the Blue Monster. Tiger will still be considered among the top contenders this week but will be such a heavy favourite as he would have 10, or even five, years back.
Last season, Justin Rose overhauled Bubba Watson’s three shot lead during the final round. The Englishman closed with a 70, compared to Bubba’s 74, to become the first British winner of the Cadillac Championship.
This week, the focus will be on another Brit, Rory McIlroy, after he walked off the course during the second round of last week’s Honda Classic.
McIlroy has endured a tough start to his 2013 campaign – a missed cut in Abu Dhabi, a first round exit in the Accenture Match Play, then the walk off at The Honda – an event where he was defending champion.
The young Northern Irishman will be looking to turn things around this week. He should be able to draw on good memories at Doral – last season he closed with a 67 to secure a solo third-place finish.
The European Tour will be well represented in the event with 34 members set to tee it up in Florida. Nine of those men will be making their debuts in the Cadillac Championship, including Stephen Gallacher and Scott Jamieson from Scotland, England’s David Lynn and Chris Wood and Jamie Donaldson from Wales.
Originally designed by Dick Wilson, the TPC 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.
Historically the course had a reputation for being extremely challenging with many struggling to break par in the early tournaments held over the layout. Now, it’s not so much of a “monster” and a winning total of around the 20-under-par mark is likely.
Venue: TPC Blue Monster at Doral, Miami, Florida
Date: Mar 7-10
Course stats: par 72, 7,334 yards
Purse: $8,750,000 Winner: $1,500,000
Defending Champion: Justin Rose (-16)
Thursday 7 – Sky Sports 3 from 7pm
Friday 8 – Sky Sports 3 from 7pm
Saturday 9 – Sky Sports 1 from 5pm
Sunday 10 – Sky Sports 2 from 5pm
Peter Hanson – The Swede is one of Europe’s most solid performers. He was tied 13th last week in The Honda and finished tied fourth in this event last year.
Richard Sterne – The South African has showed great form so far this year and currently leads the European Tour’s Race to Dubai. He was second in Dubai then won in Joburg. He lost out to Hunter Mahan in the Match Play.
Nick Watney – Winner in 2011 and a runner-up in 2009, he’ll be looking to use this event as a springboard for the season. His best finish so far this year is a tie for fourth at the Farmers Insurance Open, he’ll be looking to improve on that here.
Key hole: 18th. At 467 yards, this infamous par 4 often ranks amongst the very hardest on the PGA Tour. Last season it played to an average of 4.539, no finishing hole was tougher. 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: Keeping it in play. The greens at Doral are amongst the most straightforward the top players will encounter all year, so if they can find greens in regulation, they will make birdies.
PGA Tour – Puerto Rico Open preview