The world’s best golfers are in Florida this week for the second WGC event of 2011. Ernie Els defends the Cadillac Championship around the “Blue Monster” at Doral.
All of the top-50 players in the world will tee it up in Doral this week for the WGC-Cadillac Championship with a total field of just 69.
Before last year’s championship, the top-three players on the Official World Golf Ranking were American – Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker. But the Europeans were breathing down their necks with six players in the top-10.
In the latest ranking, Europe can still boast six in the top-10. The crucial difference though is that Europeans now occupy the top four positions. World Number 1 Martin Kaymer will start this week as favourite while last week’s winner, Luke Donald; former World Number 1, Lee Westwood; and US Open champion, Graeme McDowell will also receive significant backing.
Since it was first hosted in 1999, Tiger Woods has won this event six times although his last victory was in 2007. He’s in the process of making swing changes and admits it’s still a work in progress. He’s down to fifth on the World Ranking and, unless he posts a good result this week, his slide could continue.
The tournament has been held at Doral since 2007. The Blue Monster course was originally designed by Dick Wilson and it has played host to PGA Tour events for almost half a century. The course has a reputation for being tough but the statistics show it’s not such a monster. Last year it ranked as the easiest course in the PGA Tour’s “Florida Swing” and 49 of the 69 tournament entrants completed 72-holes under par.
Cadillac has taken over from CA as title sponsor for this year’s event.
Venue: TPC Blue Monster at Doral, Doral, Florida
Date: March 10-13
Course stats: par 72, 7,125 yards
Purse: $8,500,000, Winner: $1,400,000
Defending Champion: Ernie Els (-18)
Thursday 10 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 7pm
Friday 11 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 7pm
Saturday 12 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 5pm
Sunday 13 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 5pm
Graeme McDowell – The Northern Irishman finished The Honda last week with a flourish, posting a 64 in the final round. He’s one of the most consistent and determined competitors in the world and he’ll keep trying until the final putt drops. It could be for the victory.
Nick Watney – Runner-up here in 2009, Watney has four top-10 finishes already in 2011. He’s one of the best in the business when it comes to avoiding mistakes and that’s a key to success around the Blue Monster.
Charl Schwartzel – One of the form players in the early part of 2011, Schwartzel was runner-up to Ernie Els in this event last year. It’s about time the South African stepped up a level and won a tournament of this significance.
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: 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.
Golf LIVE 2011 – Monty to headline