By Rob Bolton, Fantasy Insider
The symmetry between the dynamics of this week's World Golf Championship and its title sponsor, Cadillac, are numerous. Phrases like high living, class and adrenaline spring to mind for 65 of the world's best golfers guaranteed of a big payday in south Florida.
TPC Blue Monster at Trump Doral encourages the field to step on it -- and keep it floored. Beginning with the par-5 first, which last year played -0.840 to par (4.160), easiest of any hole on the PGA TOUR over all of the last seven seasons, flag-hunting is not only encouraged -- it's required.
Three of the six champions at the host course since it joined the World Golf Championship family in 2007 have finished first or second in greens in regulation. The last two finished T12 (Nick Watney, 2011) and T17 (Justin Rose, 2012), but each ranked fifth in proximity to the hole, thus increasing his likelihood of burying birdies.
As you'd expect with a scorable par 72, going low on the par 5s is a must. Dating back to Ernie Els in 2010, the champions have finished 1st, T2 and T3, respectively, in par-5 scoring average. Tiger Woods also led his field in 2007.
Geoff Ogilvy (2008) and Phil Mickelson (2009) deviated from this formula, ranking a respective T29 and T38 in par-5 scoring average. Instead, they led their fields in par-4 scoring average. Mickelson's clip of 3.725 is a record in a World Golf Championship event. He carded 15 birdies, 22 pars, two bogeys and one double on the set of 10 par 4s. Ogilvy (T15) is the only winner that didn't finish inside his top five in par breakers, but he was the only champ that led his field in scrambling.
Of course, no reliable vehicle comes without a commensurate braking system and safety features. After the field races through 17 holes at Trump Doral, it will carefully navigate the par-4 18th hole, which played to a scoring average of +0.539 strokes to par last year, highest of any closing hole on TOUR dating back to the 2008 season.
As a result, the finishing hole is no place to take chances. Of the 24 times the last six winners of this event played the hole, only three birdies have been recorded. And of that tiny sample size, Watney's 3 in the finale two years ago stands alone in the last three rounds. (He also has the only double bogey or worse with a 6 in his third round.) As a group, champions have averaged 4.167 on the red-light special of an 18th hole.