2009 WGC CA Preview and Picks – 27105

World Golf Championships CA Championship
Thursday March 12 Sunday March 15, 2009
Doral Golf Resort (Blue Course) Doral, FL
Golf Channel/NBC

The second World Golf Championships event takes place this week in Florida with the famed Blue Monster at Doral hosting the CA Championship. Tiger Woods will be in the field this week for his first stroke play event since the 08 U.S. Open. Woods has dominated the CA Championship, winning six of the nine times this event has been held, including in 07 at Doral. Geoff Ogilvy is the defending champion from 08 and will have to battle through the toughest field of the year to repeat. The Golf Channel has all the early round action with NBC picking up the weekend finish.

The Blue Course at Doral is no stranger to PGA competition and this will
be the third consecutive year the Monster has hosted the CA Championship.
The event seems to have found its home at Doral after holding the event
at five other venues around the world. Doral is much different than the
PGA National that hosted last weeks Honda Classic. The Blue is a par-72,
measuring 7,266 yards and favors the bombers on Tour, at least in terms
of the traditional four par-5s, and lends simpler approaches to the longer
hitters. Tee accuracy is important, but Doral will give up birdies from
the roughs a bit more than the typical shotmakers courses. The teeth of
the course come in the form of 110 sand traps and 10 water hazards. The
course played as the 14th easiest in competition last year and the course
record is 61, although that round was not recorded in CA Championship play.

Each week, we take a look at the golf sportsbooks and highlight a few players that are expected to contend. Well pick three golfers that we think have the best shot to win outright, one short, middle and long odds player. Well also breakdown a few head to head matches and pick winners there as well. Here are the players to watch at the CA Championship.

Tiger Woods – 11 to 4 to win
There really isn’t much to say about Tiger past his tremendous record in this event. The questions around Woods game remain as his only start this year came in the Accenture Match Play. He did play well at times through that event and his loss to Tim Clark was much more about how well Clark played than a lack of solid play by Tiger. If he is back 100%, he should contend this week on a course that is certainly within his wheelhouse. If there are bugs to get out of the swing or the putter is a bit spotty yet, any number of players could jump up and put enough distance between them and Tiger to keep Woods out of the winners circle for a little while longer.

Geoff Ogilvy – 12 to 1
Tiger has an unbeatable career record at the CA Championship, but it is Ogilvy that has the better record at Doral. The defending champion finished T3 in the first CA at Doral in ’07. Ogilvy will be looking for win number 3 on the year after taking the trophy at the Mercedes and Accenture already. Geoff is 24th in greens hit in ’09 and a 2nd ranked putter is responsible for the bestbirdie average on Tour. Geoff is our short odds pick for the week.

Phil Mickelson – 18 to 1
After a very shaky start to the season, Mickelson is rounding back into shape after a win at the Northern Trust and a T9 at the Match Play. Lefty has been solid at the Blue Monster, recording T23 and T20 finishes in his two starts here. Lefty has the right recipe of length and touch to win here, ranking 35th in driving distance and 33rd in putting average. Phil also is among the best on Tour with the wedge game, ranking 7th in GIR proximity from inside 150 yards.

Sergio Garcia – 20 to 1
Garcia got an unexpected week of vacation after getting bounced in the first round of the Accenture, butcame back nicely with a T13 at the Honda Classic. Sergio has fared well here in the last couple of years, finishing T15 and T3 in the two years the CA has been at Doral. Garcia is currently hitting 76% of his greens and ranked 6th in driving distance. Those numbers will play great anywhere, but it will always come down to how the putts are falling for Sergio.

Anthony Kim – 28 to 1
Kim picked up where he left off in ’08 wiht a T2 at the Mercedes, but a missed cut at the FBR, a second round exit at the Match Play and a lot of travel to play around the world have bumped the youngster down the list a bit. 28 to 1 is a great value here should Anthony find his stoke this week. Kim is ranked 2nd in birdie average, 7th in GIR% and 1st in average length of approach.

Our Picks to Win

Short: Geoff Ogilvy (12 to 1)
Its never easy to pick against Tiger, but this really is Ogilvy’s event since it has moved to Doral.

Middle: Robert Allenby (40 to 1)
40 to 1 isn’t our typical middle odds pick, but Allenby is a super value in this spot considering he hasn’t missed a cut in 30 straight events and is coming off a T5 at the Honda. In the two years at Doral, Allenby has finished 3rd and 20th and is inside the top-20 in driving distance and greens hit. 4.25 birdies per round is a good pick no matter the odds.

Longshot: Aaron Baddeley (50 to 1)
Baddeley has not missed a cut in ’09 and has two top-15 finishes in the Doral CA Championships. Badds can struggle from tee to green at times, but is the Tour’s best putter, ranking 1st in both average and putts per round.

Head to Head Matches (our pick) – (all matches are for entire tournament)

Phil Mickelson (-115) v. Sergio Garcia (-115) (Mickelson)
Lefty looks to have cured some of the woes from the early season and while Garcia has the better record here, Mickelson is clearly the better putter.

Davis Love III (-115) v. Sean O’Hair (-115) (O’Hair)
Davis Love opened the season with a T2, but O’Hair hasn’t been outside the top-25 in any of his five starts, including three top-10’s. O’Hair is currently 3rd in greens hit and 7th in birdie average.

Good Luck!