February 28, 2014
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- Tiger Woods will try for his fifth win at the Blue Monster. (Franklin/Getty Images)
• FIELD: WGC-Cadillac Championship
• COURSE: TPC Blue Monster at Trump National Doral, 7,481 yards, par 72. Doral’s signature course greets golf’s best with a more modern stage this year, thanks to a $200 million upgrade that toughens a 52-year-old layout that had shown signs of age. The course gets its name from its famed 18th hole, where water along the entire left side torments golfers on both the tee and the approach shot. At the inaugural Doral Open in 1962, pros went a combined 104-over par for the week at No.18. Despite equipment advances over the years, No.18 still ranked as last year’s sixth-toughest hole outside the majors.
• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 550 points.
• CHARITY: The First Tee is the primary beneficiary of World Golf Championships events. Other recipients include the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, Miami Children’s Hospital and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County.
• FIELD WATCH: World No.1 Tiger Woods defends his title against the strongest field yet of 2014, facing a lineup that includes the entire top 50 in the world rankings and top money-winners from various world tours. The lineup currently stands at 67, though that could grow by perhaps three qualifiers Sunday night. … Waste Management Phoenix Open winner Kevin Stadler, No.9 in the FedExCup standings, will land a berth if he doesn’t fall out of the top 10. … Scott Stallings and England’s David Lynn also could get in if they move into the world’s top 50 on Monday. … Barring any late withdrawals, this will mark the first time everyone in the world’s top 50 has teed up at the same event since the 2012 PGA Championship.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 261, Tiger Woods (2006 at The Grove). Trump Doral record: 264, Tiger Woods (2005).
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 62, Sergio Garcia and Retief Goosen (both 4th round, 2002 at Mount Juliet) and Bubba Watson (2nd round, 2012 at Doral). Trump Doral record: 61, Stephen Ames (2nd round, 2000).
• LAST YEAR: Woods cruised to his 17th WGC title and fourth on the Blue Monster, using a putting tip from buddy Steve Stricker to record 27 birdies on the Monster. Woods built a four-shot lead through 54 holes, finishing off with a 1-under-par 71 that made the final result closer than it appeared. It was Woods’ 76th career PGA TOUR victory, and his 100 putts for the week matched his career best in a 72-hole event. Stricker, who had worked to tweak Woods’ posture over putts, wound up two shots behind in second after closing with a 68.
• STORYLINES: The renewed Blue Monster gets its formal introduction, showing off Gil Hanse’s handiwork of strategically placed bunkers, trickier greens and, yes, more water. Of particular interest are the holes leading up to No.18, with water now coming into play at both the par-3 15th and drivable par-4 16th. … Woods hopes past success at Doral might give spark to his current malaise, which continued Friday when he barely made the Honda Classic cut. That followed a Saturday MDF at Torrey Pines and tie for 41st in Dubai. … U.S. Open titleholder Justin Rose looks to test his sore shoulder again after a two-day stay at the WGC Accenture Match Play. A flareup prompted the 2012 WGC Cadillac winner to take his name out of the Honda field.
• SHORT CHIPS: Jason Day, last week’s Accenture Match Play champion, seeks to join Woods and Phil Mickelson as the only men to capture two WGC titles in the same year. Woods has done it five times; Mickelson paired his 2009 WGC-Cadillac title with the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. … Just one entrant will make his World Golf Championships debut here: Dawie van der Walt, Order of Merit winner on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa. … In true South Beach style, Friday’s docket includes a post-competition fashion show featuring top designer Carolina Herrera. Ivanka Trump will serve as emcee.
• 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).
• RADIO: Thursday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. ET. Sunday, 1-7 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).