Blue Monster Preview

    The PGA will travel to Doral for the WGC – Cadillac Championship the first weekend in March. Aside from the four majors, this is one of the premier tournaments golf professionals circle on their calendar. The consistently great fields and tough course combine to produce worthy champions.

    Doral’s winner’s list generally reads like a Hall of Fame Roster — Greg Norman, Raymond Floyd, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, Billy Casper and Tom Weiskopf are among the many top players who’ve won this tournament. The course also has produced more than its fair share of tight finishes over the years.

    The Blue Monster course is now officially known as Trump National Doral Miami. It first hosted the Doral Open beginning in 1962. The Tournament was known as the Doral Open until 2006 when it became a WGC Event as a part of the FedEx Cup. Over the years the Doral Open was sponsored by a variety of companies including Ford, Eastern Airlines and Genuity Ryder.

    The Blue Monster course is best known for its signature 18th hole — a 467 yard par 4 with water all along the left side of the fairway and green. Trump National includes 5 courses including the Great White Course designed by Greg Norman.

    Let’s take a look at the results of the past three Doral tournaments and preview this year’s tournament.

    2015 Doral Results

    1. Dustin Johnson -9

    2. J.B. Holmes -8

    3. Bubba Watson -7

    T4. Adam Scott -4

    T4. Henrik Stenson -4

    6. Louis Oosthuizen -3

    T7. Bill Haas -2

    T7. Webb Simpson -2

    T9. Rory McIlroy -1

    T9. Ryan Moore -1

    T9. Kevin Na -1

    2014 Doral Results

    1. Patrick Reed -4

    T2. Jamie Donaldson -3

    T2. Bubba Watson -3

    T4. Dustin Johnson E

    T4. Richard Sterne E

    T6. Stephen Gallacher +1

    T6. Bill Haas +1

    T6. Thongchai Jaidee +1

    T9. Jason Dufner +2

    T9. Hunter Mahan +2

    T9. Graeme McDowell +2

    T9. Charl Schwartzel +2

    2013 Doral Results

    1. Tiger Woods -19

    2. Steve Stricker -17

    T3. Sergio Garcia -14

    T3. Graeme McDowell -14

    T3. Phil Mickelson -14

    T3. Adam Scott -14

    7. Keegan Bradley -12

    T8. Peter Hanson -10

    T8. Rory McIlroy -10

    T8. Justin Rose -10

    T8. Michael Thompson -10

    Clearly, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Bill Haas perform well at this golf course. Length off the tee is at a premium here, which helps explain why Johnson and Watson have done so well here the past few years. They are probably the two longest hitters on the PGA Tour, week in week out.

    If you look at the final leaderboards for the past 20 Doral tournaments, you will notice that scores have come down. No one will approach Tiger Wood’s -24 under par mark from the 2005 tournament.

    Doral was lengthened dramatically a few years ago in a move that has drawn the ire of several players who rely more on their iron play and short game.

    Brandt Snedeker has played better than almost anyone over the past two months but he won’t be the odds on favorite here. Snedeker struggles to break the top 100 in driving distance and last year his caddie, Scott Vail, called Doral “the worst golf course I’ve ever caddied on” in a March 8th Tweet.

    Unquestionably, Doral has become a venue where bombers enjoy an advantage. Through the end of January, the ten longest drivers on tour include Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Ryan Palmer, Dustin Johnson, Daniel Berger, Rory McIlroy, Jason Kokrak and J.B. Holmes.

    That’s not to say shorter hitters can’t compete here, as Patrick Reed’s 2014 victory and Bill Haas’ success prove. It just means it’s more difficult for these players who are firing long and mid irons into hard, fast greens.

    Jordan Spieth currently ranks 167th on tour in driving distance. I don’t think we ever want to discount this guy’s chances to win a golf tournament, but history tells us that the winner’s circle is usually occupied by someone who can drive it a mile.

    Whoever wins Doral will carry some nice momentum into the year’s first major, the Masters at Augusta National in early April.