WGC-Cadillac Championship: Bubba to blast away rivals again

Bubba Watson has great course form and looks ripe for another win
Bubba Watson has great course form and looks ripe for another win

Dave Tindall brings us his analysis and tips for this week's big event in Florida - the WGC-Cadillac Championship...


"Watson, now the World No.4, is in very elite company nowadays and a recent stat showed that only Rory has won more times on the PGA Tour than Bubba since 2010."

Main bet: Back Bubba Watson @ 13.012/1

Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 5 places


Main bet: Back Bubba Watson e/w @ 12/1

One trend on the PGA Tour in the last couple of years is that we've seen the elite players do their winning in spurts.

Rory McIlroy won three-in-row in 2014 and landed two in three last May, Jordan Spieth has clustered wins in the last year while Jason Day won four times in six starts at the back end of 2015.

All three men followed a '1' with another '1' in that time even though they weren't necessarily in back-to-back weeks.

So, can Bubba be the next man to follow one victory with another?

The amount of wins he's pulled off in the last couple of seasons suggests it's the next box for him to tick and this looks a perfect stage.

Watson, now the World No.4, is in very elite company nowadays and a recent stat showed that only Rory has won more times on the PGA Tour than Bubba since 2010.

The left-hander took his tally to eight with victory in the Northern Trust Open two weeks ago and, quite simply, wins more times than those around him in the market.

He wins big tournament too. As well as two Masters (2012 and 2014), Bubba landed a WGC event in China two years ago and has also lifted trophies in top-class field at Torrey Pines and Riviera.

This week's event has eluded him so far but only just!

The Florida native was runner-up to Justin Rose in 2012 (shot second round 62) and since the course underwent a serious renovation ahead of the 2014 event, changing the winning score from -19 to -4, he's finished second and third.

Last year, the three longest hitters in DD that week (Dustin Johnson, J.B. Holmes and Bubba) finished first, second and third so smashing it miles off the tee would appear to count for plenty on this track.

He doesn't always take to some courses but on those he likes he tends to repeat high-class performances.

Of the The Blue Monster, he said last year: "I look forward to it. I look forward to the challenge. When you come here, the challenge of the wind, the challenge of the golf course, the speed of the greens are really, really quick right now, and so you get here, you get excited about the challenge."

Hitting it big and fast greens certainly brings Augusta to mind so everything points to another serious title bid from Gary Lester Watson.


Next best: Back Louis Oosthuizen e/w @ 28/1

If we're looking for another in-form player who clubs it off the tee, Louis Oosthuizen certainly fits the bill.

The South African is coming off a one-shot victory in the European Tour's Perth International last week and he's also finished T7 (Qatar) and T12 (Malaysia) in two of his other three starts in 2016.

Oosthuizen ranked 2nd for Driving Distance in Malaysia and is in the top 20% for DD on the season-long stats in Europe.

As for course form, he hasn't always had his best stuff at Doral but it's notable that his best performance is post-Gil Hanse redesign when he finished T6 last year.

The former Open champion shot a 67 in Saturday's third round - a score bettered by only one other player - and said later: "There's so many bunkers out there and so much water, so you need to play smart and get it in the fairway and then take your chances on easier pin locations."

Finding the short grass was certainly something he managed in Australia when hitting 75% of Lake Karrinyup's fairways while his iron play was out of this world. Oosthuizen hit 67 greens in regulation out of 72 and that was just one short of the European Tour record.

Also T9 in last year's Arnold Palmer Invitational, the 33-year-old now has two top 10s in his last four starts in Florida while he has three top 20s in his last six starts at Doral.

Perhaps the fly in the ointment that will put some off is jet-lag. Will he feel tired after spending last week in Australia and adjusting to the time change?

It varies from golfer to golfer but there is some positive news on that front with Oosthuizen.

When he lost a play-off to Bubba in the 2012 Masters, he flew straight to Asia and won the Malaysia Masters. Not only did he handle the disappointment, he dealt superbly with the hefty and potential body-clock wrecking 13-hour time difference between Augusta and Kuala Lumpur.

He did a similar trip in 2014, finishing T25 at The Masters and then taking second spot in Malaysia seven days later.

Quite simply, Oosthuizen is a global traveller who can flourish despite crossing time zones. Don't be put off.

"This is massive for me," he said after taking victory in Perth and there are lots of examples of him shining in back-to-back tournaments when you examine his results.


Top 10: Back Danny Willett @ 5/1

He's the World No.15, he's just won an elite European Tour event in Dubai, taking the scalp of Rory McIlroy in the process and he was T12 on his debut in this event last year.

It's therefore something of a snub for Danny Willett that he's tossed in at 66/1.

Adding to his appeal this week is his record in WGC events.

In the last four, the Englishman was T12 here, third in the Match Play in San Francisco, T17 at the Bridgestone and third again in the HSBC Champions after closing with a 62.

In other words, when the good and the great gather, Willett can flourish.

Holing a clutch putt to win the Dubai Desert Classic last month must have cranked his confidence up even further following his stellar 2015 when only Rory stopped him winning the Race to Dubai.

I want to be on Willett in some way, shape or form this week so the decision is deciding which market to play him in.

Outright at 66s is certainly an option and so is top five although it's worth remembering that his two top threes didn't come in strokeplay events on American soil which is the examination paper this week.

Therefore, I won't get too greedy and will play Willett to make the top 10 at 5/1.

He remains relative inexperienced in America so that market seems a decent compromise of wanting to support a player without expecting too much.

Looking back to his post-victory comments in Dubai also gives a few insights.

"It's nice to know that the stuff I'm doing is working and my schedule choice, obviously choosing not to accept a PGA Tour card and trying to stay over here in Europe.

"It's nice to get off to a quick start because it's going to give me some key time off with Nicki's birth, and obviously we're going to be well up there in the World Rankings for Rio and for The Ryder Cup. It just means it eases off the schedule I guess."

With just three starts under his belt in 2016, Willett has the benefit of freshness and that could be a help given that a few swings have taken a bit of a hit in the wind in certain events.

He gives it a good biff off the tee (been in the top 25 for DD in his eight tournaments) and was 19th for Driving Distance in this event 12 months ago with an average of 302.1 on the measured holes.

Only winner Dustin Johnson (138) shot lower than Willett (139) over the final 36 holes at Doral last year so I'm expecting a big run from the man from Sheffield this week.


Dave's 2016 P/L (based on £5 e/w per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £230
Returned: £177
P/L: -£53

(After Honda Classic)

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