WGC Doral Blue Monster Recap

    The first World Golf Championship (WGC) Event of the season was hosted at Doral, home of the famed “Blue Monster” 18th hole. It was classic Doral, a course that rewards good shots and punishes wayward ones. There were plenty of rounds in the mid to upper 60’s, but also 14 rounds in the 80’s. And remember, these are the best 64 players in the world, not some U.S. Open sectional qualifiers.

    Stephen Bowditch failed to break 80 over 4 days at Doral. He’s no slouch as a player, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour and a past member of the International side in President’s Cup Play. New NBC Commentator David Feherty asked, in all seriousness, if a 12-handicapper would be able to play 18 holes with a dozen balls. Doral punishes wayward tee-shots.
    Adam Scott arrived at Doral fresh off his victory at the Honda Classic – his first win since mid-2014. It had been a tough nearly two year stretch for Scott. He watched the emergence of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler. He must have felt old and disrespected at age 35 when Rory McIlroy was thrown in with the bunch of 20-somethings to form golf’s new “Big Four.”

    Never mind that Scott was on a similar trajectory early in his career. He possessed Hollywood good looks, a picture perfect swing (still does) that was the honest envy of nearly every player on tour. He won the 2004 Tournament Players Championship early in his career and the sky seemed the limit. But, the big wins, the wins in major championships, didn’t come. He battled a bulky putter and finally found himself on the greens with the broom-style club, looking more like he belonged on the senior’s tour.

    Scott’s persistence paid off however when he became the first Australian to win the Masters title in 2013. He finished tied for 3rd at the Open Championship that year and tied for 5th at the PGA. He also recorded 2 top-10’s at the U.S. Open and the Open Championships in 2014 and 2015.

    Scott’s back-to-back wins have served notice that golf doesn’t belong entirely to the 20-somethings. The other big takeaway for the week had to be Rory McIlroy’s inability to close out the tournament after taking a 4-shot lead into Sunday’s final round. McIlroy struggled mightily on Sunday at Doral, often pulling mid and short iron approaches. He made a single birdie and shot 2 over par 74 in round 4. Dustin Johnson, whose length should always make him a threat on this bomber’s course, played himself into contention after a second round 64. He collapsed on Doral’s back 9 in the final round and posted a 7 over par 79.

    Scott’s consecutive victories in Florida are even more impressive when you consider the fact that he switched back to a conventional putter and putting style after the anchoring ban went into effect this season. Scott has thrown a major wrench into the media’s “Big Three” and “Big Four” concept and has firmly planted himself as a favorite at Augusta National in early April. Another player who will be a strong favorite at Augusta National is Bubba Watson. Watson finished second at Doral, a single shot back of Scott. He was the only player to break par all four rounds last week. And, like Adam Scott, he’s probably heard enough of the youth movement dominating the game.