Doral is the place where golf balls go to die.
This might be the last time we see the Blue Monster course used for the WGC-Cadillac Championship, with owner Donald Trump set to succeed in his quest to annoy everyone on the planet.
It’s a safe bet there won’t be too many players complaining if the Florida course meets the same watery end as so many of their errant shots over the years.
Always a course for bombers, the TPC track was remodelled prior to the 2014 tournament and the new layout has taken a serious toll.
More than 300 balls met their end in the Monster’s many water hazards that year (including 113 on the Friday alone) and the winning scores have plummeted.
This was a course that was routinely taken part by the top players – you had to shoot at least 16 under par between 2008 and 2013 – but birdies have been significantly thinner on the ground following the revamp.
Patrick Reed won at -4 in 2014 and Dustin Johnson won with a score of -9 12 months ago.
What do the pair have in common? They both bomb the ball a mile.
In the last four years, (Bubba) has shown up in 3rd, 2nd, 18th and 2nd.” Doral has always been a long hitters course but the changes only seem to have made length even more important.
Last year’s top three were all at the top of the charts for driving and the man who finished in the final podium spot surely has a huge chance of getting his hands on the trophy this time around.
Bubba Watson’s form figures at Doral are fantastic. In five appearances, he has four top 20s and, in the last four years, he has shown up in 3rd, 2nd, 18th and 2nd.
Hugely confident following his victory in the Northern Trust Open last time out, Watson is a best-priced 12/1 – a price that seems more than fair as he builds up his campaign for a third green jacket.
Reed, meanwhile, who can be picked up at 45/1, looks a decent each-way shout. The winner two years ago, he was tied 23rd last year, and it is a course he clearly likes.
He’s been inconsistent so far this season, and missed the cut at last week’s Honda Classic, but he was also runner up at the Tournament of Champions and tied 6th at Pebble Beach.
One man who looks to be coming right into form is Graeme McDowell. The Northern Irishman should have taken plenty of confidence from his fifth placed finish last week.
Although he never looked like seriously challenging Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia at the top of the leaderboard, his final three rounds (69, 67, 69) revealed plenty of promise.
Having been in the doldrums for much of 2015, McDowell has been revitalised by his win in the OHL Classic last November.
Forgive his performance at Doral 12 months ago, when he was tied 56th and you’ll see the former US Open winner has three top 10s in the WGC event.
Crucially, he was tied 9th in 2014 on the new course. Hardly one of the biggest hitters on tour, Doral shouldn’t suit McDowell but the accurate player clearly finds something to his liking.
At 66/1, he is an intriguing each way play.
Doral is the course where Rory McIlroy infamously lost his temper last year and chucked an iron into the lake during his second round.
Even though a best-priced 10/1 is one of the bigger prices you are likely to find on the world number three this year, there are too many question marks over his putting to make him a definite must play.
The same applies to Jordan Spieth, at 12s, who has also looked out of sorts and isn’t likely to find Doral’s exorbitant length to his liking.
Course experience, though, can count for a lot and Danny Willett could be a wise choice at a big 80/1.
The Yorkshireman took his time to come to terms with the Blue Monster last year, shooting rounds of 73 and 76 in his opening two rounds.
But he finished with 71 and 68 to earn tied 12th and, with the Dubai Desert Classic already pocketed this season, it’s hard to see why he is nearly a three figure price.