PGA Tour Golf Odds and Predictions: WGC-Cadillac Championship
by Alan Matthews - 3/7/2012
See, I told you that all it took was for the PGA Tour to get to the Sunshine State for me to pick my first winner of 2012!
Last week at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Rory McIlroy won the Honda Classic, his first victory in the States since last year’s U.S. Open. It was a thrilling Sunday, and we have seen more than a few of those already this year. Tiger Woods went on a pre-2009 Tiger-like tear on the final 18, finishing birdie-eagle for a 62, the lowest final round of his career. He surged to within a shot of the 22-year-old McIlroy, but the Northern Irishman, who was several holes behind, didn’t get rattled. He made impressive par saves at the 14th, 15th and 17th holes after missing those greens and won by two shots over Tiger (Woods’ best finish since his last official win). An American player had won every PGA tournament this year before Sunday.
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McIlroy is your new No. 1 in the world. He became the 16th player to be No. 1 since the world ranking began in 1986, and the fourth player – all Europeans -- in the last 16 months since Woods abdicated the top spot after a five-year reign. McIlroy replaced Luke Donald and became the second-youngest player to be No. 1 behind Woods, who was 21 when he first got to the top after the 1997 U.S. Open.
This week the pros drive (or helicopter) about 75 miles south down Florida’s east coast to the Miami area for the WGC-Cadillac Championship at the Blue Monster, otherwise known as Doral. This will be the 51st straight year that the PGA Tour has played an event at Doral. Only Augusta National and Colonial have held longer consecutive events at the same site.
It will feature the strongest field of the season thus far
The WGC-Cadillac Championship has the Top 50 players from the Official World Golf Ranking, as well as all 30 from the final 2011 FedEx Cup standings and the Top 20 from the final 2011 Race to Dubai standings. This is just the ninth tournament since the start of 2005 that will have all 50 from the world rankings competing. It will also be the first time all season golf fans and bettors will see Tiger, McIlroy and Phil Mickelson in the same tournament. Lefty, remember, sat out the WGC-Match Play and the Honda for a family vacation. Two big names who aren’t here are Ernie Els and Jim Furyk as neither was eligible – Els won here in 2010.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: WGC-Cadillac Championship Favorites
McIlroy, who isn’t scheduled to play again after this tournament until the Masters, and Tiger opened as the co-11/2 favorites at Bovada. McIlroy finished runner-up two weeks ago at the Match Play before his win at PGA National. In fact, since last year’s PGA Championship he has finished outside of the Top 5 just once worldwide. And that was 11th in Dubai on the European Tour.
Tiger, meanwhile, used to be the king of all WGC events. When he last won a WGC at Firestone in 2009 that gave him 16 world titles out of the 32 he had played, an amazing rate of 50 percent. Woods has made more than $22.2 million in the WGCs alone, which is nearly 25 percent of his career PGA Tour earnings. His official WGC money is more than all but 25 players have made in their careers. Tiger has played this tournament 11 times and has never – NEVER – finished outside the Top 10. He has won it six times (three at Doral), last in 2007. Woods was T10 a year ago.
Lee Westwood and Mickelson are each 12/1. Lefty was playing fantastic before his two-week sabbatical, having won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and losing in a playoff the following week at the Northern Trust Open. I worry about ending that momentum, however, with the time off. Plus Mickelson has just one Top-10 finish in nine tries here – although that was a win in 2009. He was T55 a year ago. Westwood played very well at the Match Play, losing in the semis to McIlroy, and was fourth last week as well. He could take the No. 1 world ranking with a win here and depending on what McIlroy does. Westwood has played here 10 times and hasn’t had a Top-10 finish since 2000.
Rounding out the Top 5 favorites is reigning Masters champion Charl Schwartzel at 20/1. He was a solid fifth last week, with three straight rounds of 69 or better after an opening 71 and led the field in greens in regulation. The South African has one Top-10 finish in five tries here, a runner-up to his countryman Els two years ago.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: WGC-Cadillac Championship Predictions
Nick Watney shot a final-round 67 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Dustin Johnson here a year ago. Watney is 28/1 to repeat, while Johnson is at 25/1. Watney, who was runner-up here in 2009, hasn’t been great in stroke-play events this year, shooting at least two rounds in the 70s in every tournament so far. He didn’t play the Honda. Johnson’s second-place finish in this tournament a year ago was his only Top 10 in three tries. Johnson seems back to full health, with back-to-back Top 5s before the Match Play. He also didn’t play last week.
Donald, who was No. 1 for 40 weeks, could regain the No. 1 ranking with a win and depending on what McIlroy does. The reigning PGA Tour money champion, Donald (25/1 this week) has earned less than $60,000 in his two events in the States so far in 2012 (knocked out in opening round of Match Play). He also sat out a week ago.
But my pick this week is Matt Kuchar at 33/1. He has two career starts in the WGC-Cadillac Championship and two Top-5 finishes. In eight career rounds in the event, he's been in red numbers every time (two eagles and 37 birdies in his two visits). Kuchar also played well at the Match Play (winning three matches). He has such long odds because he hasn’t had a Top-15 finish in a stroke play event since a second at last year’s Fed Ex Cup-opening The Barclays. Kuchar also took last week off.
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