The PGA Tour is saying at this time that all of the Top 50 players in the Official World Golf Rankings(OWGR) will be teeing it up on Thursday morning for the start of The WGC-Cadillac Championship. I think Tiger Woods is questionable with his back issues, but the 2013 defending champion is on the property at the newly designed Trump National Doral Blue Monster.
Over the past few years with changes in equipment, The Doral Blue Monster had lost some of its teeth. If this tournament was going to continue to provide the championship caliber golf like we saw last week at The Honda, it needed change. Change came by the way of popular course designer, Gil Hanse over the past 12 months, and is ready to the test the worlds greatest players.
With the small field of around 65 players, tee times will not begin until 11:00 AM Eastern Time, and will feature some nice blend of players.
Tiger Woods Adam Scott Henrik Stenson
12:39 p.m. ET, 1st tee on Thursday; 11:44 a.m., 10th tee on Friday
If you are a fan, this has to be the marquee group that features the world’s three best players. Of course Tiger Woods is questionable at this point, but you have to think that if he can walk, he will be on the course to defend his 2013 title. He has played particularly well in the early part of the new season, but you can never tell when he might put up the kind of round we saw on Saturday at PGA National. You can never count Tiger Woods out.
Adam Scott made his first start last week since the Sony Open back in January, and finished T 12 in his return. He looked a little rusty, but had a nice -1 under par 69 in the final round. The 2013 Masters Champ finished in third place here one year ago.
The 2013 FedEx Cup Champion, and Race To Dubai winner has gotten off to a slow start in the new season, and didn’t play here last year. His last appearance at Doral was in 2010 when he 37th. Stenson typically doesn’t get going until the Texas Loop. He needs to get on-track soon because the field is leaving him in the dust.
Jason Day Rory McIlroy Phil Mickelson
11:44 a.m. ET, 10th tee on Thursday; 12:50 p.m., 1st tee on Friday
I personally think the winner of this event will come from this group. Jason Day picked up some confidence with his win at Dove Mountain, and he has the fire power that is needed to conquer the Blue Monster. Jason always plays well in these star-studded events, and now he comes in with a winning attitude.
Rory McIlroy will be looking to prove that he is back, and needs to get the bad taste of what happened last Sunday at the Honda where he lost a wire-to-wire lead at the 16th hole on Sunday. He showed us all what he is made of when he went for the impossible pin placement at the 72nd hole with a shot that will make the top ten shots in golf history. Too bad he didn’t make the putt.
Phil Mickelson is always a question mark. If he can get his driver in the fairway, he is a threat. There are questions surrounding his health as well, but one thing is for sure, he will be exciting to watch if he can get it going.
Dustin Johnson Matt Kuchar Jordan Spieth
11:33 a.m. ET, 10th tee on Thursday; 12:39 p.m., 1st tee on Friday
Dustin Johnson definitely has the fire power to compete in this tournament. Johnson finished second in the 2011 Cadillac; his 12th-place finish last year, and has been competitive in almost every event he has teed it up in this year. Dustin will need his questionable short game to be on this week, and will need to make some putts on these new and improved larger greens.
Matt Kuchar missed his first cut in a year and a half at the Norther Trust Open, and was unable to defend his 2013 title at Dove Mountain. He is another one that needs to get his game on the move soon, or he may get left behind in 2014. The Kuch has finished in the top 10 in three of four Cadillac starts, but had a disappointing 35th place finish here last year. Hey it’s a new year, and a new golf course, maybe this is the week for Matt Kuchar to find his game.
Last year at this time, 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Jordan Spieth was at the Puerto Rico Open trying to find some success. The third place finish stated his climb to fame on the PGA Tour. This will be the youngster’s first appearance in this event, and how he can perform against the best in the world will be an indication if he is ready for the big time.
TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 1-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, noon-2 p.m. (GC), 2-6 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, 1-3 p.m. (GC), 3-7 p.m. (NBC).
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