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Blue Monster Cadillac Champ Doral Preview
So, the 2014 PGA Tour is definitely underway in earnest this week at the World Golf Championship-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral. The top players are all out gunning to lay waste to The Donald’s shiny (and insanely pricey, of course) redesign and rebuild.
Miami’s famed Blue Monster Course is hardly recognizable to past winners, since all 18 holes have been moved and many of the links extended. Plus, Trump’s PGA foray didn’t reopen until last month. In all, Trump bought Doral for $150 million last year and then proceeded to spend $250 million for the complete overhaul.
The gambit appears to have worked to put all of golfs’ eyeballs on Florida. The field includes the top-50 ranked PGA players. Trump hired architect Gil Hanse, who’s designing the 2016 Rio Olympic’s course. Hanse planted some 5,000 trees, added nearly a 150 yards to its almost 7,500-yard length, eight new water hazards, lippy bunkers, new tee grass and increased green sizes by 30 percent — on average.
The only hole pretty much left alone is the legendary No. 18, famed for his in-the-face winds.
A question on many people’s minds is how much of a difference will the course changes make. For a $9 million purse and $1.5 million top prize, I’m sure golf’s best will make the proper adjustments and skip yet another ugly or wild Sunday.
Despite triumphing last year at Doral, the odds makers placed Tiger Woods behind Rory McIlroy, 12/1 versus 7/1. And that’s despite McIlroy’s final round meltdown last week an hour away at The Honda Classic. As for McIlroy, fans just seem to be waiting for him to jail break at any moment from the pack this year.
The No. 1 player in the world has question marks. Nothing new there, I suppose, for Woods. But this time it’s about whether his own back injury (Michelson has one, too.) and the redesign will impact this multiple-Doral winner’s weekend performance.
Adam Scott is another serious contender — as usual — with the same odds as McIlroy, the latter of which makes Florida his year-round home. Scott’s also finished at Doral in the top 10 for the past three years. He’s said to have sharpened his skills in The Honda Classic after taking several weeks off.
Dustin Johnson, at 16/1, is believed to have the history and heat to be the real front-runner. He’s my pick. Johnson is a strong, fit veteran. It’s going to be in the 80s with Florida’s humidity. And while he’s never won here, DJ plays smart, hits long, busts bunkers and forgot already what he had for breakfast.
Mr. Paulina Gretzky is due. Talk about a guy on a streak.
I could see Johnson, 29, battling it out 34-year-old Sergio Garcia, who’s come close at Doral before on several occasions, or Jordan Spieth, who’s rested after last week (Do 20-year-old Texan’s need rest?). That would be a fun age range, too.
I’d put Ricky Fowler is in the same mix since he’s also coming off some strong tourneys and is among this group of on-the-cusp 2014 winners.
So who else is here in the second tier. Man, it’s difficult to call them that.
Phil Mickelson (2009 winner), Charl Schwartzel, Henrik Stenson, Steve Stricker (No. 2 behind Woods last year), Jimmy Walker, Lee Westwood, Bubba Watson (No. 2 in 2012), Graeme McDowell and 2012 Doral winner Justin Rose are just some of the big names here.
Some believe Jim Furyk, at 50/1, is a threat and quickly shaping up into form since his season didn’t begin until just last month.
Like a lot of folks, I was going to go with Jason Day. He’s back after his grinding, thrilling mano-a-mano win with Victor Dubuisson (who’s also playing this weekend) two weeks ago outside Tuscon, Ariz. But he pulled out Thursday with a thumb injury.
If not Day, then someone’s gotta start piecing together multiple 2015 Tour wins. And the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral is where that player’s streak will begin.