5 things: What we learned at the WGC CA

News & Tour

It's all set up perfectly for the first Major of the season as Tiger dominates at Doral

1

Tiger back on the WGC trail

It was classic Tiger Woods: hit the front on Friday then survey the field from the rear-view mirror for the rest of the tournament. This was the 17th WGC event he has won – which is as many events as Jim Furyk has won on the PGA Tour in his entire career – but, significantly, the first since his fall in late 2009.

There have been plenty of tour wins since then but none against a field like this.

The winning margin was only two shots in the end but in truth it was much more comfortable than that. It is nearly five years since his 14th and most recent Major victory (at Torrey Pines in the US Open). On this evidence, the drought could very soon be coming to an end.

2

A welcome flash of form for Rory

It was a week that began ominously for the world No 1, an opening 76 leaving him at the bottom of the leaderboard. But there were signs of modest improvement in rounds of 69 and 71, albeit his progress through the field was slow. What it did was set the foundations for a closing 65, easily his best effort of the season so far, to take him into the top 10. McIlroy drove the ball beautifully for most of the week and the clear signs are that his much-publicised equipment is certainly not going to cause any problems in the long term, if indeed they have caused any in the past two months.

Given the nature of his play, which has always been mercurial, people really should know better than to judge him on a couple of tournaments.

3

The next time will be Augusta

It is a curious thing. For all the events around the world in the first three months of the season, there is only one occasion that all the best players get together for a strokeplay tournament before the Masters. That was last week at Doral and it will be the last time we get to measure the top players alongside each other ahead of the opening Major of the season (which starts on April 11).

Yes, players will come in and go out of form in the next month but you won’t see them tee it up in the same event. So it’s now time to start thinking about your Augusta bets if you like a flutter. And with Tiger and Rory both in form it can’t come quickly enough.

"On this evidence, Tiger’s five-year drought could very soon be coming to an end."
4

World rankings update

Tiger and Rory are now well clear of the chasing pack in the world rankings. And should the former excel at Bay Hill this week in an event that he usually does and one he arrives at as the defending champion then he could move to within striking distance of the young pretender.

Lee Westwood has dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in a long time, leaving Luke Donald (3rd) and Justin Rose (5th) above him. Brandt Snedeke ris between them in fourth.

5

Sergio quietly impressive

Whisper it quietly, but the Spaniard is playing nicely, ending last week in a tie for third and generally looking in control of his game. It would be a brave man who backed him at Augusta given his well-publicised dislike of a course that he thinks is unfair, but he ought to contend at the likes of Merion and Muirfield later in the Major calendar. There have been false dawns before, many of them, but maybe now Garcia is ready to claim his first Major.

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