The World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship returns to the Blue Monster, Trump National Doral for the 10th consecutive season. Dustin Johnson is the defending champion. As expected, this event will feature all of the biggest stars from across the globe.
The Blue Monster is as it sounds. It is a monster of a course, stretching out to 7,543 and playing to a par of 72 following a 2014 redesign by Gil Hanse. It offers four par 5s, with three of those weighing in at over 600 yards. Three of the four par 3s tip the scales at over 200 yards. The par 4s are rather modest, with three of the 10 playing over 470 yards but four of them are playing at 425 or shorter.
Break it Down
This is one of the few events on the PGA TOUR that is a true smoke show. And I’m not talking about the ladies in the gallery, although that might be the case as well. I’m talking about how a player must smoke it off the tee to stand a legitimate chance at hoisting the hardware on Sunday evening.
The ability to score at Doral is largely based on taking advantage of one drivable par 4 and four par 5s. With three of those par 5s stretching out above the 600-yard mark, they are only reachable in two by the longest bombers. Thinking back to last season, it was J.B. Holmes, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson locking horns down the stretch.
Any power ranking worth it’s salt should put a premium on the long ball. Subsequently, any sleepers this week should also be able to dominate from the tee. One example that comes to mind is a guy like Scott Hend. Hend doesn’t earn a spot in the top 20, but might have a bit of value in a number of deeper formats.
When dissecting the stats, the wise move it to place a premium on driving distance and par 5 scoring. Everything points to those as deciding factors.
1. Bubba Watson – He’s finished inside the top three at Doral in three of his last four starts and enters fresh off his second win at the Northern Trust Open. Bang.
2. Dustin Johnson – The defending champ hasn’t been perfect in 2016, but managed to pop the top on a fourth-place finish at Riviera two weeks ago. Hard to find a par 5 that he can’t reach in two.
3. Adam Scott – What got into the Aussie? Improved on a T2 at Riviera with a win at The Honda Classic last week. He has four top 10s and a fifth top 15 in nine trips to the Blue Monster, while also offering the necessary muscle to get around.
4. Rickie Fowler – His course history at Doral isn’t as good as some of the others in the rarified air of the top five of this power ranking. He finished eighth in 2011 and T12 last year, but didn’t manage a top 30 in the three trips in between.
5. Justin Rose – Shot a 63 at the Seminole pro-member to capture the coveted title on Monday of tournament week. He’s a past winner at Doral, and he posted a T6-T16 run in his most recent two PGA TOUR events leading up to this week.
6. J.B. Holmes – While he was the runner-up last year, his two trips prior didn’t produce anything memorable. That means he hasn’t become a course horse quite yet, but his game certainly fits the bill. Last three finishes were an impressive T6-T11-T11 run.
7. Rory McIlroy – His missed cut at The Honda Classic last week isn’t without precedent, as he’s been a bit feast-or-famine in that one. His game should be a great fit for this course when he’s on, so form is certainly the question. He’s finished inside the top 10 in four of his last five Cadillacs.
8. Phil Mickelson – This is a big week for Lefty, especially as it relates to the Masters. Historically, the winner at Augusta National tends to show very well at Doral, often finishing inside the top five. He is a past winner here and has been a pleasant surprise in 2016.
9. Sergio Garcia – Runner-up last week at The Honda Classic erased any bad tastes from a missed cut at Riviera. He’s tied for third here twice in eight tries, so with his game on point he will be dangerous.
10. Jordan Spieth – I never would have thought he’d drop this low on any power ranking this season, but a missed cut in his last start and nothing better than a T17 in two tries earns the fade.
11. Henrik Stenson – The Swede’s T4 here last year is his only top 10 in this event in six tries, so perhaps the redesign favors him. This is the first time we’ve seen him in the U.S. in 2016, but he hasn’t finished worse than T6 in two events across the globe.
12. Louis Oosthuizen – Winner last week in the ISPS HANDA, the South African enters brimming with confidence. He finished sixth at the Blue Monster last year.
13. Patrick Reed – Somewhat of a surprising winner in 2014, Reed posted a T23 in his defense last year. Last three starts are a bag of Skittles, going WD-T6-MC.
14. Jason Day – A T20 in 2012 is his best showing in four trips to the Blue Monster. That’s a bit of a shocker, but we also can’t ignore the history and elevate him above the others on this list. After missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, he rebounded with a T11 at Pebble Beach in his last start.
15. Graeme McDowell – One of the two shortest hitters on this list, G-Mac finished fifth at The Honda Classic last week and has three top 10s and a fourth top 15 in eight trips to Doral.
16. Zach Johnson – He’ll have to wedge his way to the top on three-shot par 5s, but it can be done. He has two top 10s and five top 25s in nine WGC-Cadillac Championships at Doral. Recent form isn’t anything exciting.
17. Matt Kuchar – While he’s been quiet in 2016, it’s the lurking kind of radio silence. He’s gone T13-T49-T8 in his last three starts and owns three top 10s and five top 25s in six cracks at the Blue Monster.
18. Justin Thomas – The only rookie on the list earns his spot thanks in part to a T3 at The Honda Classic last week and his statistical match.
19. Brooks Koepka – Tied for 17th here last year in his first trip and has the length required to consistently contend.
20. Hideki Matsuyama – Withdrew from The Honda Classic with a hip injury, so hedge your bets accordingly. At full strength, he’d be worth a look in the 11-20 range, but still not a top-10 option.
Check back Tuesday night for the picks of all Rotoworld staffers in Playing the Tips.
Best of luck to all!