The Punter's De-Brief: Lucky, plucky Scott rallies brilliantly to win back-to-back

Adam Scott with the WGC-Cadillac trophy
Adam Scott with the WGC-Cadillac trophy

Steve looks back at an eventful WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral where Adam Scott rallied to win after being matched at 150.0149/1 in-running. Read our man's take on all the action here...

“You may need to be up with the pace but getting over the line from the front is clearly not easy. Rory was the third man in four years to fail to convert at least a three-stroke 54-hole lead, so taking on the odds-on favourites with a round to go might be a worthwhile exercise should we return here.”

Having led by three with a round to go, my in-play pick, Rory McIlroy, soon moved further clear as his closest challengers all appeared to fold. The Irishman hit a low of 1.211/5 when his playing partner, Dustin Johnson, double-bogeyed the third and Adam Scott, who was looking to double-up after winning the Honda Classic the week before, double-bogeyed both the third and the fifth! We looked to be heading for a somewhat boring but emphatic victory for McIlroy but it all changed around the turn.

Having played a bit defensively, Rory never looked like making a birdie and when he bogeyed seven and nine, the door was ajar. My sole pre-event pick, Bubba Watson, eagled the par five eighth from over 60 feet and it looked highly likely that either Watson or Rory would take the prize. Watson was matched at just 2.56/4 as he began the back-nine but he failed to birdie the tenth hole and in no time at all, a rejuvenated Adam Scott caught and passed my pair.

The Aussie was matched at 150.0149/1 after he'd double-bogeyed the fifth but bounce-back birdies at six and eight were followed by a quite remarkable run of holes.

A two-putt birdie on ten was followed by an approach on 11 from 169 yards that left him a birdie putt inside three feet. He then hit to within five feet on 12 from 140 yards and to within three feet again on 14 from 141 yards out! It was sensational play, far and away better than anyone else had produced, and having birdied six of nine holes to take a two-stroke lead, it looked all over bar the shouting when he had four to play.

Paul Krishnamurty's 66/1 each-way shot, Danny Willett, hit a low of 3.711/4 when he had nine feet for birdie on 17, having got to within one of Scott, but he missed the putt and drove into the water on 18 and, after Scott had made a a mess of the short drivable par four 16th (scrambling a par after shanking his second shot from the greenside bunker), Bubba looked back in it.

Watson birdied the 17th to get within one and after he'd pared the last, with 18 playing so tough, hope was rekindled when Scott's tee-shot bounded through the fairway to sit behind a tree. My man was then matched at odds-on when it looked highly likely that Scott had found the water with his approach shot (see below) but it wasn't to be. The ball somehow stayed dry and after a superb up-and-down, Scotty was the deserved winner.



My Bets

With the title looking to go the way of either Rory or Bubba, I appeared almost certain to enjoy a winning week for much of the weekend. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have layed Rory at very long odds-on and it would have made sense to have layed Watson back too but I thought one of them would have gotten the job done and I certainly didn't see Scotty's remarkable comeback.

Maybe I could have backed the Aussie as he made his move but I could also have backed Willett or even Phil Mickelson in-running too and it's always easy to say afterwards. Had Scotty's ball rolled down the bank and found the lake I'd be enjoying the spoils of a great week, rejoicing in the fact that I didn't lay Bubba back, but it didn't quite work out like that way. Better luck next time I hope!


What Have We Learned This Week?

Whether this event returns to Trump Doral next year is still up in the air. Golf's governing bodies weren't too enamoured by some of the course owner's comments about Mexicans and Muslims a few months ago and, with Cadillac due to drop its sponsorship, it looked highly likely that the event would be played elsewhere with new sponsors, but I get the impression things have changed a bit since.

It's a fascinating situation and I it'll probably be a while before we find out. I suspect it will stay at Doral if a new sponsor is happy for it to do so and how can golf turn its back on Donald Trump should the unthinkable happen and he becomes the next President?

I like the venue as it has some very strong and reliable trends but wishing a raving loon take charge of the free world just to get a few angles in on a golf tournament isn't a great way to think, so I'm hoping his campaign hits the buffers hard and some unscrupulous organisation is happy enough to put their name to the event here, regardless of the links to Trump. And should that be the case, stick with the bombers.

In an attempt to negate the big hitter's sizable and obvious advantage at Doral, Brandt Snedeker oversaw some changes to the fairway bunkering after last year's renewal, but it didn't make a scrap of difference and short hitters have virtually no chance of winning. And nor do those that start sluggishly.

Having scythed through the field in round two, Rory McIlroy looked as though he might just buck the trend of fast starters winning. He was five backed and tied for 16th after round one but as it transpired, the winner was never outside the front four places and five of the first six home were tied for eighth or better after round one so it remains a track where a fast start is vital.

You may need to be up with the pace but getting over the line from the front is clearly not easy. Rory was the third man in four years to fail to convert at least a three-stroke 54-hole lead, so taking on the odds-on favourites with a round to go might be a worthwhile exercise should we return here.

And finally, if we do come back, I shall definitely be backing Bubba again. He ranked second for Driving Distance and first for Greens In Regulation but despite a few lengthy putts made yesterday, it's perfectly obvious why he finished a shot shy. He only ranked a frustrating 53rd for putting and even an average week with the flatstick would have got him across the line.

The greens were very soft at the beginning of the week and given he's a multiple US Masters champ, who thrives on fast and firm greens, I do wonder if that was against him.

Anyway, that's more than enough looking back on what transpired to be an agonising week, we've got two very good events to look forward to. There's the second edition of the True Thailand Classic on the European Tour and the Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour and if the latter is anything like last year's renewal we're in for a treat. Jordan Spieth got the better of Patrick Reed and Sean O'Hair in a playoff 12 months ago in what was one of the most thrilling tournaments ever played on the PGA Tour. I'll be back with my preview for that one later today.


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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