WGC-Cadillac Championship Betting Preview

Doral Blue Monster #18, Panorama

Doral Blue Monster #18, Panorama (Photo credit: camflan)

The TPC Blue Monster at Doral is set to play host to a stacked field this week, as sixteen former major winners will be teeing it up at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. It’s one of the more iconic venues on the PGA Tour schedule, but it will be getting a facelift starting on Monday, as Donald Trump has enlisted the help of architect Gil Hanse to make some changes to the layout. Speaking to Tom LaMarre of the Sports Xchange, Hanse said this of the changes, courtesy Yahoo!:

“We are obviously making some significant changes to golf holes, but I think within the spirit of Dick Wilson, we’ll try to recapture some of the stylistic elements,” said Hanse, who also is designing the course that will host golf in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. “We’ll try to recapture some of his exciting green shapes, hole locations.

“We’ll try to create a golf course where angles are relevant again and where it’s important to get to a proper side to score as opposed to just hitting it as far as you possibly can. If we can do some things that can hopefully enhance the interest and character in the course, that’s really our first and foremost goal.”

 
It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of changes Hanse makes, as many feel that the course has essentially become a bomber’s paradise in recent years, but for the moment, let’s take a look at what we can expect this week.
 
2013 WGC-Cadillac Championship Fact Sheet

  • Course: TPC Blue Monster at Doral
  • Location: Miami, Florida
  • Yardage: 7,334 yards, par 72
  • Defending Champion: Justin Rose
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Tiger Woods, Charl Schwartzel, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar and Luke Donald

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 2:00 to 6:00 PM ET (NBC)
  • Sunday –  3:00 to 7:00 PM ET (NBC)

Key Storyline This Week
 
When was the last time that Rory McIlroy wasn’t listed as one of the top-five favourites by Vegas in an event? That’s the situation we’re in this week for the world’s number one player due to a combination of poor play, and if you believe the nonsense spewed by much of the mainstream media, a poor attitude after his withdrawal from the Honda Classic last week. As I said in my recap a few days ago, he could have handled the situation better, and that’s exactly what he did yesterday to SI’s Michael Bamberger, apologizing and admitting that he made a mistake. I think people forget that McIlroy is 23 years old, and he’s going to mess up from time to time. It doesn’t excuse him obviously, but people need to lay off the guy. As it relates to his play, obviously he’d like to be playing better, but those writing him off at this point are nuts. With no cut this week, he’s going to get a guaranteed four rounds in, and any extra time on the course with his new equipment is only going to help. Don’t forget that before he set the world on fire last year, he missed four of five cuts from the Players to the U.S. Open.
 
Want a secondary story? Brandt Snedeker is the only player in the top-50 in the world who isn’t playing this week. There probably won’t be a better field in any event all year, so enjoy it.
 
Key Holes
 
Par-4 3rd (438 yards)
After two good birdie opportunities to open the day, players will run into back-to-back difficult holes starting at the 3rd. Players will need driver off the tee if they want to hit the bigger landing area, but it brings trouble into play on both sides of the fairway, with water on the right and deep rough on the left. There’s also a deep fairway bunker on the left at about the 280-285 yard mark, which will catch a ton of balls throughout the four day event. The players get a break with no greenside bunkers, but those who go left to avoid the water will see tight lies with a green that slopes severely to the right. The 18th gets the most attention, but in the last five years, the 3rd has ranked in at no higher than the 4th handicap hole on the course.
 
Par-3 4th (236 yards)
As if the 3rd wasn’t difficult enough, the 4th will hit the players again just a few minutes later. At 236 yards, it’s a long enough par-3, but that’s not even the issue. The massive lake on the right side would make you think to go left, but there are two very deep bunkers guarding the left side of the green too. Most players will either try to hit a cut into the green instead of hitting it over the lake, or they can try to run one up.
 
Par-4 18th (467 yards)
The 18th at the Blue Monster is one of the most recognized holes in all of golf, and is always one of the most difficult par-4’s that the pros play all year. In fact, last year it ranked as the second most difficult hole played on the entire PGA Tour, and has been the number one handicap hole on the course in four of the last five years. The drive is very difficult, especially when the wind is up, which usually comes from across the lake, pushing balls into the right rough. If players land in the right rough, their approach will be nearly impossible into a narrow green, guarded by bunkers up the entire right-hand side and the huge lake on the left. The pin on Sunday will be in the back left-hand corner of the green, right near the water, which usually causes final-round drama.
 
Suggested Plays
 
Tiger Woods (Best Odds 12-1 at Bet365)
I don’t usually recommend taking the favourite in an event, but I do like Woods this week. He’s always played well at Doral, never finishing outside of the top-10, including three victories and has been under par in 30 of his 35 rounds at the course. He actually didn’t play as poorly as his result at the Honda, and you don’t often see him at 12-1, but the quality of the field is bumping the number a little bit.
 
Luke Donald (Best Odds 22-1 at Paddy Power)
Donald has a good record in this event, finishing inside the top-6 in each of the last two years, but he also hasn’t been outside of the top-10 in the Florida area since the 2011 Honda Classic, a span of seven events. No, he’s not the longest hitter out there, but you’d have a hard time finding a better putter and scrambler on any tour. Any early season rust should be gone now too, and 22-1 is simply too good to pass up.
 
Keegan Bradley (Best Odds 30-1 at You Win)
Bradley started slow this year, but was solid last week at the Honda finishing tied for 4th, and was in a decent position to win this event last year until a final round 75 derailed those chances. He does everything well, and could be rounding into form. Of everything I’ve seen so far this week, the 30-1 beside Bradley makes the least amount of sense. Bet him with confidence.
 
Charles Howell III (Best Odds 104-1 at Betfair)
Howell’s my one dartboard pick of the week, and it really depends on the book that you use when it comes to this one. I’ve seen Howell as low as 40-1, and up to 104-1 at Betfair. He doesn’t have a great record at Doral, but he does have a pair of top-20’s, and he’s been very good all year, including having  a chance to win last week until he blew up with a 78 on Sunday. He’s putting and scrambling better than usual to go along with his usual superb driving. If you can get him at a good number, he’s a solid each-way bet this week.
 
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The PGA Tour is also playing in Puerto Rico this week, and the field is actually better than most weeks when there are two events. No crazy analysis here about the event, but I do like a few players:

  • Kevin Stadler (25-1 at Betfair): Having a really good year on the PGA Tour in 2013, and has a solid record at Trump International with four top-20’s in five events, including a T-7 and a T-4.
  • Brendon de Jonge (28-1 at Bet Victor): He’s going to win an event sometime soon, and it might have to be in a weaker field like this one. Almost always in contention no matter where he plays.
  • Graham DeLaet (37-1 at Betfair): The Canadian is close to breaking out, and already has a pair of top-10’s this season, including last week at the Honda. One of the best ball strikers on the PGA Tour, he just needs to figure out the putter. Finished tied for 9th here last year.
  • Y.E. Yang (47-1 at Betfair): Hard to think that Yang isn’t at the WGC event this week, but he’s seen a bit of tough fall in recent years. He looked solid enough last week at the Honda for me to see some value at 47-1.
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