World Golf Championships-CA Championship, Doral Resort (Blue Course)
March 20-23, Doral, Fla., Golf Channel/NBC
by Matt of Predictem.com
The PGA remains in Florida this week as the Blue Course at Doral hosts the WGC-CA Championship. An elite field made up of the best from around the world will tangle for the $1.35 million dollar share of the $8 million dollar total purse, as well as the FedExCup Points. Tiger Woods is the defending champion and looks to make it 4 for 4 in ’08. The Golf Channel brings you the Thurs/Fri rounds with NBC picking up the telecasts on the weekend.
If Woods is to extend his winning streak, he will have to make it through one of the toughest fields he will see outside the Majors. The WGC fields are made up of primarily the top 50 golfers on the Official World Golf Ranking along with a few others that have played themselves in by occupying top spots on Order of Merit lists or the FedExCup list.
The winner will also have The Blue Course to conquer, which consistently possesses some of the hardest holes on the PGA Tour. Known as the “Blue Monster”, the par 72 track measures 7,268 yards and can be made very tricky when the wind picks up. The front nine has a stern test in the par-3, 236 yard, fourth hole. The hardest 3 par on the course, the fourth demands accuracy with a long-iron or more to navigate sand and water guarding the green. The back nine is highlighted by the 18th; a 467 yard, par-4 that ranks as the hardest finishing hole on Tour. If the wind does pick up, par is a far from certain coming home to the traditional rear-left Sunday pin.
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Tiger is the obvious favorite to win here, especially considering his six previous CA Championships and his overall record in WGC events. Considering his latest run, the golf sportsbooks have Tiger at 5/6 for the win this week. Tiger’s Tour leading 66.35 stroke average is almost two full strokes ahead of 2nd (Els, 68.22) and nearly three ahead of 3rd (Mickelson, 69.05).
Phil Mickelson is the next on the board at 14 to 1 to come out on top. The one benefit of Tiger’s dominance is that it pushes the odds higher for the other top contenders, and could bring a nice return if Woods were to slip. Phil has had a good year so far, with one win and 5 top-25’s in 6 starts. The Tour’s 1st ranked All Around player, Lefty may be near to cashing one in.
Ernie Els is looking to return to the form that had him 3rd in the world a few years back, and is next on the board at 20 to 1. Els most recently missed the cut at the PODS, but has a win at the Honda Classic a few weeks back, and is 14th on the birdie average list at 3.83 per round. If Ernie can shave a few putts from his 142nd ranked average, he can certainly contend this week.
Another at 20 to 1 is Tour workhorse Vijay Singh. Singh has played 8 events already in the U.S. and has made the cut in all but one, and has not finished over par in any start. Vijay’s game is peaking recently, with two top-5’s in his last two tries. Singh uses his 6th ranked greens in regulation stat (72.01%) to keep him on the first page of the leaderboard.
Adam Scott is a bit further down the board at 28 to 1. Scott is one of the longest players on Tour, averaging a 3rd best 304.5 yards off the tee. Scott is making his 3rd PGA start and has played well, finishing 14th and 17th is his two starts. Scott is another player who needs to keep the putts down to win, he ranks 159th in putts per round at 30.00. If he can make a few more per round this week, he will be a factor come the weekend.
A player to watch at 40 to 1 is Sean O’Hair. Sean is coming off a two week run that has seen him win at the PODS and tie for 3rd at last week’s Palmer. O’Hair has a solid all-around game (68th in GIR, 28th in scoring) and is about the hottest stick this side of that Tiger guy.
If you like to bet the matches, take a look at the Singh v. Els match and Sergio Garcia v. Aaron Baddeley.
Accuracy will play a big part for the winner this week, and although Singh is hitting more greens than Els, the disparity is not large with Vijay 6th and Ernie 42nd on the GIR list. Driving accuracy falls in the favor of Els with Ernie finding the fairway 64.6% of the time compared to Singh’s 59.9%. Els is also more than a full stroke under Vijay’s scoring average and has an edge in GIR putts. Look for Els to pull out a close one here.
The driving stats could play out in the Garcia v. Baddeley match as well. Sergio ranks 5th in Total Driving to Badds’ 121st including a 14 yard edge in average distance. Baddeley has a decided advantage in putts per GIR, but there is only a half a stroke difference in total putts per round. Sergio’s has dropped his scoring average to 69.7, ranking 12th, proving he can overcome a sometimes balky putter. Baddeley lags at a 71.05 stroke average, ranking him 111th in that stat and will be the difference here. Take Sergio this week.
Above players are all -120 at bodog for the matches.
For the win:
Short: Tiger 5/6 – can’t pick against him
Middle: Ernie Els 20/1 – has won a CA Championship
Long: Sean O’Hair 40/1 – Looking to stay hot.