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The WGC - Cadillac Championship - Bubba can bounce-back to form, says The Punter

Bubba Watson, one of The Punter's picks at the Cadillac

“Bubba definitely has all the right attributes for Doral and although he’s had a disappointing year to date, down at least in part to sickness, I can see him bouncing back this week and I thought 38.037/1 was fair.”

Our man takes a good look at this week's big event in Florida, where he's taking it easy from the off. A fast start looks essential at Doral and Steve's getting all set for the in-play action...

Tournament History
There has been a PGA Tour tournament at Doral since 1962. In 2007, the Ford Championship was scraped and replaced by the previously nomadic World Golf Championship event - the American Express Championship. That then changed names to the C.A Championship before changing again to its current name, the WGC - Cadillac Championship.

Following on from the Accenture Match Play a fortnight ago, this is the second of four WGC events held throughout the year and as with all WGC events, the field is limited to the world's best and there's no cut.

Venue
TPC Blue Monster at Doral, Doral, Florida

Course Details
Par 72, 7334 yards, stroke average in 2012 - 70.90
Doral was nicknamed the Blue Monster because water's in play on half the holes and it used to play really tough. It's now officially called the Blue Monster which is somewhat ironic because if the wind doesn't blow it's far from monstrous, and the scoring average comes down year after year with the advancement of technology. The average between 1962 (when it opened) and 1965 was 74.74. Last year it averaged just 70.90.

The first hole (par five) is the easiest and the 18th (par four) the hardest. In fact the 18th is still a monster and only 16 birdies were recorded there all week twelve months ago. The greens are slightly above average in size at 6,600 feet and they're running at 11.8 on the stimpmeter. There are 108 bunkers on the course and like last week's venue, the entire track is Bermuda.

Useful Sites
Doral Resort Course Site
Tee Times
Twitter Link
Weather Forecast
Alternative Weather Forecast

TV Coverage
Live on Sky Sports all four days, 7.00pm on Thursday and Friday and 5.00pm on Saturday and Sunday

Last Five Winners
2012 - Justin Rose -16
2011 - Nick Watney -16
2010 - Ernie Els -18
2009 - Phil Mickelson -19
2008 - Geoff Ogilvy -17

What will it take to win the WGC-Cadillac Championship?

Length off the tee is definitely a plus this week and the par fives are likely to be key. The last three winners all played the par fives in double-figures under par. And a good week with the putter helps too - the last four winners were all ranked inside the top-six for putting.

Early forecasts suggest it won't be awful this week but an ability to play well in windy conditions is often important here.

Previous course form stands up very well and four players have won here at least three times.

Is there an identikit winner?
Floridians or anyone with a link to Florida has an obvious advantage. For example, last year's winner, Justin Rose, an Englishman born in India, resides in the Sunshine State.

So far in 2013, every PGA Tour winner has been an American and for the first 28 years at Doral, that was the case here also but ever since Greg Norman won the first of his titles in 1989, the tide has turned significantly and 11 of the last 23 winners have been non-Americans. Could this be the week the internationals breakthrough in 2013?

In-Play Tactics
My intention this week is to try and get involved in-running from a very early stage. As it was last week, the advantage is clearly with the fast starters and I see no value in laying out too much from the get-go.

Tiger Woods was just four shots off the lead after day one in 2007 when he won but that's the furthest any winner has been after day one in the last eight years!

Holes 3 and 4 are tricky but by and large the first two thirds of the course is far easier than the final third. Holes 13, 14 and 15 ranked joint 3rd, 6th and 8th toughest last year and after the drivable par 4 16th, the players face a tricky par 4 (ranked joint 3rd hardest in 2012) and the aforementioned brutally difficult finishing hole.

Not only is splitting the course into thirds, and recognising that the hardest third is the final third, essential for trading in-running, especially on Sunday, it's also very much worth bearing in mind over the first two days when the field will be starting off on both the 1st and the 10th.

Anyone off to a fast start on the back-nine may well be worth getting with in the outright market on day one - bearing in mind the seemingly essential prerequisite of a flying start.

Market Leaders
This is the most intriguing pre-event market of the year so far and one that poses plenty of questions.

Can tournament favourite, Tiger Woods, again dominate at Doral? He won here for three years straight between 2005 and 2007 and it's a well-known fact that Tiger tends to only win at his favourite gaffs nowadays. I wouldn't put anyone off at all and he'll be one I'll be tracking very closely on Thursday but he putted very poorly last week and for that reason, I'm reluctant to get stuck in before the off.

Charl Schwartzel ticks both the current and course form boxes nice and boldly but after backing him in each of his last two stroke play events, I'm swerving him this week. He's just a shade too short.

Third best is defending champion, Justin Rose, and he looks far too short to me at just 18.017/1.

Luke Donald and Matt Kuchar both trade at 23.022/1 and both have solid records at Doral. I do wonder if Luke is long enough to actually win here though, and I have to conclude (only just) that back-to-back WGC events is possibly too big an ask for Kooch.

So what about Rory McIlroy? I have to say, I'm mildly tempted. The overreaction to last week's Toothgate incident looks verging on extreme but having read his interview here with Sports Illustrated, it sounds like his game is some way off and given I want to be strict with my stakes before the off, he too is left out.

Selections

I was all over Bubba Watson for this event two years ago, so I was really miffed when he led after rounds two and three last year when I wasn't on. He went on to throw it away with some awful early play in round four twelve months ago but I can see redemption this time around.

Bubba definitely has all the right attributes for Doral and although he's had a disappointing year to date, down at least in part to sickness, I can see him bouncing back this week and I thought 38.037/1 was fair.

Phil Mickelson
's record in Florida is pretty poor but he did win here four years ago and he ran Tiger close in 2005, so Doral does suit his aggressive style. I've had the tiniest of wagers at 30.029/1, just because he's such an enigma and if he does start fast, as he did at the WM Phoenix Open, I don't want to miss the boat, as I did in Phoenix. And I'm still not over it yet!

My only other pre-event wager is on 2011 winner, Nick Watney at 40.039/1. I'm not a huge fan of Watney, as he seems to make some strange decisions at times and he has a habit of losing the plot in-running but he's a multiple winner and he loves this gaff. In addition to his success two years ago, he ran Lefty very close in 2009.

Pre-Event Selections
Phil Mickelson @ 30.029/1
Bubba Watson @ 38.037/1
Nick Watney @ 40.039/1

I'll be back later today, or possibly in the morning, with my preview of the week's other event, the Puerto Rico Open and I'll kick off the In-Play Blog on Friday morning.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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05 March 2013

The Punter

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