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WGC-Cadillac Championship Preview and Picks

   by Matt Fargo - 03/08/2011

The Sunday finish at The Honda Classic was better than what was expected after Saturday, as Rory Sabbatini held on after his five-shot lead dwindled to one. The tour continues on the Florida swing, heading to Doral this week for the WGC-Cadillac Championship. This is the second event in three weeks where we have a star-studded field with the entire top 50 players in the world playing as 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, averaging 4.21 for the week. Ironically, of the 22 par-72 courses played in 2009, it was the ninth-easiest. That should tell you something about the rest of the course as it has been seventh-easiest in putting in each of the last two years.

This is just the fifth year that the WGC event has been played here and this year was in question before Cadillac became the sponsor following last year's event. Doral has been a host course on tour since 1962 so it is a good thing a deal was signed. Weather should not be a factor as the forecast looks optimal and nothing like what we saw last week with the winds at PGA National. There are only 69 players in the field this week and that means there is no cut on the weekend.

The defending champion is Ernie Els (+5000) who shot a final round 66 to hold off Charl Schwartzel and win by four shots. Injuries have forced him to a slow start this year and last week at the Honda, he made the cut by only one shot and closed with 78-72 to finish T70. At this price, there is no doubt value in Els but since coming to Doral, there has not been a back-to-back champion and it won't happen here.

There is actually value in Tiger Woods (+1200) as his fall from grace has made him bettable. Woods won the WGC-CA Championship the first time it was played at Doral in 2007 and he has won six times on this course. Obviously, he is far from what he was but with all of the positives we are hearing, this could be the breakout that so many are waiting for and a few others hopefully never comes.

Coming in with a head of steam is Graeme McDowell (+1500). He fought off a tough Thursday/Friday by closing 70-64 at the Honda last week, the latter being the low round on Sunday. Last year at Doral, McDowell finished T6 thanks to a closing 66. Interestingly, he shot at 76 in the final round of the Honda last year and opened with a 74 at Doral. The opposite could happen this week.

It is hard to not take a look at Matt Kuchar (+2500) once again. He finished T17 at the Honda last week but was tied for fifth in greens hit and on this course where putting is easy and even though he is only 20th in putting on the season, he could score low once again. After his T3 here last year, he can get it done again since that was his first start in this event so course knowledge will help this year.

This is great value on Bill Haas (+4000). He has finished T12 or better in four of five medal play events this year and has 15 rounds in the 60's. He is ranked third on tour in greens hit and if he keeps that up, he will have a lot of birdie opportunities. He has not played since the Accenture but after missing two straight cuts last year, he came to Doral and finished T6 in his first ever start.

Maybe it's the hair. Anthony Kim (+6000) is going through some struggles but we get longshot value with one of the top players in the world. Following three straight top 20 finishes to open the season including a T6 at the Farmers, Kim has two missed cuts, a first round loss at the Accenture Match Play and a WD at the Northern. This could be the course he turns it around after his strong finish last year.

WGC-Cadillac Championship Win Bets

Tiger Woods (+1200)

Graeme McDowell (+1500)

Matt Kuchar (+2500)

Bill Haas (+4000)

Anthony Kim (+6000)

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