by Jeff Skinner
This is what Greg Norman had in mind when he envisioned The World Golf Tour so many years ago. Getting all the top players in the world on the same course at the same time, regardless of their home tour, was part of the revolutionary plan that Norman threatened the PGA Tour with way back when. While his plan to start a new tour, independent of The PGA Tour, failed its remnants remain: The World Golf Championships.
Of the 69 players in the field at The WGC Cadillac Championship 60 are in the top 65 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Every player in the top fifty in the OWGR will tee it up at The TPC Blue Monster at Doral. They will have to go low if they want to be in it on Sunday as The Blue Monster yields plenty of birdies. Somewhere around twenty under par will most likely win this event. Maybe they should consider changing the name to The Blue Cookie Monster, like the cuddly Sesame Street character. That being said, Doral claims a Hall of Fame roster of winners since it started on The PGA Tour in 1962. Past Champions include: Casper, Sanders, Nicklaus, Trevino, Green, Weiskoph, Floyd, Kite, Wadkins, Crenshaw, Norman, Faldo, Els, Mickelson and Woods.
The field at The Cadillac Championship is ripe with interesting stories. Martin Kaymer plays his first full tournament as world number one and Lee Westwood (2) will be looking to reclaim the spot he relinquished to Kaymer. Luke Donald (3) will be looking to go 2-0 in WGC events in 2011 as he won The Match Play two weeks ago. Graeme McDowell (4) is perhaps Kaymer’s biggest threat and he will try to continue his hot streak and claim his first WGC Championship. Those are the top four players in the world and playing from the fifth spot is the much troubled Tiger Woods. The last time Woods played from a spot lower than third in the world was in 1997. Woods has gone from being the hunted to the hunter. His problem is he hasn’t had the ammunition to take down any courses so far this season. Playing from back in the pack is foreign to Woods but he should feel comfortable here. He has five of these titles and he has won on Doral on two occasions but he has also failed on two familiar courses earlier this year at Torrey Pines and Dove Mountain. Woods has become more of a sideshow then a contender so far this season. We all want to see if this is the week that he finds it, if this is the start of his return to greatness. Another poor performance on a course he has had great success on will keep Woods falling in the rankings and further his status as an afterthought.
It was here last year that Ernie Els broke his two year winless streak and put himself back in the mix with another win in his next start at The Arnold Palmer Invitational. Phil Mickelson won here in 2009 and he is quite honest when he says that he is focused on The Masters and all these events are his preparation for Augusta. He’ll be trying to jump start his season right here.
Say what you will about the World Golf Championships and their limited fields and playing two of them within three weeks, but this is what golf needs. Having all the top players in the field is what we all want and it makes the tournament more exciting. A win here against this field really means something and it can make the 2011 season for one fortunate professional.