The Tour heads to Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami for the WGC Cadillac Championship this weekend, and, frankly, you want to be part of it. Face it, you wish you were there – who wouldn’t want to be in Miami right now? And if you thought the field was deep last weekend, then this weekend it’s bottomless. The perfect training ground for the massive contests coming up later in the summer, you can start to get a handle on what it’s like to put together a roster when the likes of Martin Kaymer ($8,200) can barely crack the top 20 in price for the weekend.
Before we start worrying about the field, a quick look at the course. The Blue Monster at Doral, one of five courses on the property, has hosted this tournament since 2007, and one look at the scenery makes you understand why. But there are country clubs with a good view everywhere – you’d like to think these World Golf Championship things would also offer up some challenging golf.
The Blue Monster got it’s name from eight large water hazards that show up in and around 12 of the 18 holes on the course. And, after the massive 2014 re-design, it’s been splashed with large bunkers across every fairway and around nearly every green. The hazards are everywhere. I am just going to throw this out there – the renovation happened right after the 2013 WGC Cadillac Championship. From 2007-2013, the average winning score was just a little better than -16. Last year, Patrick Reed won with a -4. Yes, one year is a small sample size, but suffice it to say, something changed.
Distance off the tee never hurts, and it would help you here particularly on holes like #2, a short par 4 that could be an easy birdie chance with a big enough drive. But the really interesting thing about the Blue Monster is that it is challenging without being long. Don’t let the fact that Bubba Watson finished second here last year fool you into thinking you need to look for big hitters – he might drive it a mile, but he finished second here last year by hitting accurately, both off the tee and with his irons.
One way to look at that is to look at GIR averages and percentages, as it’s difficult to stay at or near the top of that list if your iron play isn’t at least solid. Predictable, even. And when you start to look at the names on those lists from the PGA and European TOURS so far on the year, you see names that make a lot of sense: Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Jimmy Walker, Jason Day. So, if you believe that those guys can perform well, maybe you use the GIR stat to identify someone a little further down the food chain on DraftKings… but who is hitting basically just as many Greens in Regulation. You need something to back up those cheaper choices in your head, right?
As for the strategy you need to employ when contending with this many choices, well, there is no “need.” A lot of different strategies could work, but do you remember those ads from a while back? “These Guys Are Good.” There are a lot of good players out there this weekend, and that makes two things true: it’s hard to pick the actual winner, no matter how much money you spend, and the lower-ranked players on the list have a lot to overcome if they’re going to compete. If they have a really good day, they better hope a bunch of really good players aren’t doing it at the same time.
More on specific player choices to come… Good luck!