Furyk and G-Mac in the driving seat of the Cadillac
WGC Cadillac Championship
The fifty best players in world golf head to the Doral Golf Resort for the 2011 WGC - Cadillac Championship.
The Florida course will have to contend with a European invasion as the world's top four ranked players all herald from this side of the Atlantic. World number one Martin Kaymer will start the week as the 9/1 favourite and the USPGA champion is also 11/8 favourite to win his first round three ball, which, brilliantly, contains world number two Lee Westwood and the man at third in the rankings, Luke Donald.
The German topped the rankings after reaching the Accenture Match Play decider against Luke Donald on 27 February. Donald is priced at 20/1 to follow up his win in that tournament with another victory in the sunshine state and at 2/1 to shoot the lowest round in the aforementioned three ball.
The man deposed as world number one, Lee Westwood, can be backed at 22s although his best at Doral is a tied 30th. He did show signs of rediscovering his fine form in the Honda Classic last week but a poor final round put an end to any hopes he had of a top ten finish. The Worksop born star is priced at 15/8 to start the tournament well and card the lowest first round score out of the world's top three.
One man who ended the Honda Classic strongly was Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell. G-Mac should receive significant backing at 14s after posting a final round 64 at The Honda. The Ulsterman is one of the most consistent players on the circuit and will keep trying until the winning putt drops, there's a good chance it could be his.
The Winning Nationality market makes for an interesting read with the European selection the slight favourite at 13/10 as opposed to the 11/4 on offer for a Rest of the World player and 6/4 for an American.
The American stars on show at Doral will have something to say about that.
Leading the charge for the home grown players should be Jim Furyk. The Pennsylvanian born player is a class act, and more importantly, has a terrific record at the course they call the ‘Blue Monster'. Last year's FedEx Cup winner and Player of the Year had a three win season in 2010 (one of those coming in Florida) and has a win, two runners-up finishes and a third at this famous Florida course.
The price of 40/1 seems a little too big for a player who knows the layout of the course so well.
Also harbouring ambitions of winning on home soil are Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Woods may be without a win in 17 months but the bookies are unwilling to go too big, as the old saying goes...form is temporary, class is permanent. An outright price of 11/1 pre-tournament would have been unthinkable a few years ago when Woods was winning back to back WGC - Cadillac championships in 2002-03 and also 2005-07. Woods' recent form though does not suggest that any major improvement should be expected at Doral. Tiger has played three events so far in 2011, finishing tied 44th at Torrey Pines and tied 20th in Dubai, before suffering a first-round exit in the Accenture Match Play in Arizona.
Phil Mickelson will partner Woods and Graeme McDowell in what looks like a fascinating first round three ball (Odds: McDowell 7/4, Mickelson 7/4, Woods 13/8) and the 2009 champion will hope to beat rival Woods. ‘Lefty' can be backed at 14s to win the tournament and interestingly at 6/1 to be the top American performer.
The best of the rest of the world could turn out to be reining champion Ernie Els. The South African is hoping to become only the second player after Tiger Woods to successfully defend the WGC-Cadillac Championship title when he tackles Doral Golf Resort and Spa's ‘Blue Monster' course this week. His game may have shown slight signs of rustiness recently, going out in the second round of the recent WGC-Accenture Match Play. Last year Els edged out close friend Charl Schwartzel (28/1 tournament winner, 12/5 top 10 finish) and can be backed at 40/1 to retain his crown.