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WGC-CA Championship at Doral
by Matt Fargo - 03/09/2010
After a less than potent field at The Honda Classic and an even worse Sunday finish, the tour hopes for better things during the Florida swing, heading to Doral this week for the WGC-CA Championship. Camilo Villegas kept the ratings down last week with a five-stroke victory that was never in doubt. He will look to keep his hot season going but he now must contend with 47 other top 50 players in the world as this week we will see one of the best fields of the year.
The Doral-Blue Monster Course is an interesting one. It has the reputation of causing havoc and on occasion it does that to some but a lot of that is due to the intimidating finishing hole. Last year, the 18th hole played as the second most difficult hole all year on tour, averaging nearly half a shot above par for the week. Ironically, of the 24 par-72 courses played in 2009, it was the eighth-easiest. That should tell you something about the rest of the course. With all of the moisture Florida has taken in, we should see an even easier track this week.
This is just the fourth year that the event has been played here and yet there is already uncertainty for next year as CA’s sponsorship deal with the event expires after this week and thus Doral would become one of nine PGA Tour events that do not have deals in place for 2011. It would be a shame as Doral has been a host course on tour since 1962. There are only 68 players in the field this week and that means there is no cut on the weekend.
The favorite this week of course is Phil Mickelson (+800). He is the defending champion as he held off Nick Watney by a stroke last year. Mickelson has not exactly gotten off to the best start this season but after a two-week layoff, maybe the rest will rejuvenate him. Mickelson has finished in the top 20 in five of his last seven events dating back to last year, but has not finished better than eighth in 2010. In 10 career PGA Tour starts at Doral, Mickelson has finished in the top-10 just twice.
It is hard not to look past Villegas (+1500). He is playing the best golf of his career and his win last week was the biggest margin at the Honda since 1977 so any mental drain that comes with winning on tour was not there. Villegas has now run off four straight top eight finishes in his last four official PGA Tour events dating back to last year's BMW Championship. His record here is solid as well as last year he finished T5 and in 2008 he finished T26. He also finished T2 at Doral in 2006 at the Ford Championship.
The number two player in the world, Steve Stricker (+1500), has not played since the Accenture Match Play but his last stroke play event resulted in a win at the Northern Trust. He has finished in the top ten in his last four stroke play events as well as top tens six of his last seven and nine of his last 13 events going back to 2009. After a T35 at Doral in 2007, Stricker finished T6 in 2008 and T13 last year.
Paul Casey (+1500) remains as steady as they come. Because of the Villegas runaway, his T4 at the Honda did not get much attention but that was his third top ten finish in as many starts. He has placed no worse than 11th in four straight events and six of his last seven and that is what we call consistency. After a T9 in 2007 at Doral, he finished T51 in 2008 and T31 last year so he does have some success here.
Still a great player, Jim Furyk (+2500) is a bit of a darkhorse this week. He has not played well this year by his standards as he has two top 20’s in three starts. When healthy, this is the first time he has gone this far into the season without a top ten finish. This is a course that can solve the issue however as he won here in 2000 while placing second in 2008 and third last year.
If you are looking for a longshot that has the ability to win here, look no further than Oliver Wilson (+5000). He has never won as a pro but he is getting closer. He went 3-1 at the Accenture Match Play and finished T17 last week at the Honda in his two events played in the U.S. He has played at Doral only once but he seems to like it as he finished T5 in 2009. I like that recent record here over having never won.
Tournament Win Bets
Phil Mickelson (+800) ¼ Unit
Paul Casey (+1500) ¼ Unit
Jim Furyk (+2500) ¼ Unit
Oliver Wilson (+5000) ¼ Unit