PGA Tour Picks: WGC-Cadillac Championship Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 3/6/2013
I didn't much like world No. 1 Rory McIlroy's chances of repeating last week at the Honda Classic at PGA National, but, wow, did I never see that coming. McIlroy was the golden boy of golf entering this year, but now his reputation is in tatters. He missed the cut in his season-opening event in Abu Dhabi and then lost in the first round of the WGC-Match Play. Many believed he would find his groove at the Honda, but after scrambling to shoot even par in the first round, McIlroy withdrew on his ninth hole in his second round while at 7-over-par. He didn't bother stopping to explain himself outside of a fleeting "not in a good place mentally" comment before heading right for his courtesy car and leaving the grounds.
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McIlroy later tried to give some lame excuse that a sore wisdom tooth was affecting his concentration, which led to renewed arguments that golfers quite obviously aren't true athletes. Can you imagine a football, hockey or basketball player asking to leave a game because he had a toothache? PGA Tour rules require a medical excuse for a player to withdraw during a tournament. McIlroy also suggested his poor play was affecting playing partners Ernie Els and Mark Wilson.
Predictably, McIlroy's handlers convinced the Northern Irishman to apologize for his "reactive" decision. McIlroy has continued to say his shift to Nike equipment has nothing to do with his struggles, but his swing doesn't look the same. You aren't supposed to tailor your swing to your equipment, but vice versa. All eyes will be on him this week.
It was pretty much secondary news that Michael Thompson won the Honda Classic for his first PGA Tour victory. He shot a final-round 1-under 69, one of only five rounds under par on a windy, cold day at PGA National. Geoff Ogilvy finished second, two shots back. Both Thompson and Ogilvy played their way into this week's big-money event. Needless to say, I didn't pick Thompson. I took Tiger Woods head-to-head over McIlroy, but that was voided with McIlroy's WD. I hit on YE Yang at -115 over Ben Crane. My split winners of the tournament were Lee Westwood and Fredrik Jacobson. The former finished T9 and the latter T25.
If you want to win this week's WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral's "Blue Monster," you better tame the par 5s. Each of the past three years, the winner has played those holes in at least 11 under for the week. Then there's the par-4 18th. Water is in play on the entire dogleg-left, and it has ranked as the Tour's hardest finishing hole in three of the last six years. Last year's scoring average of 4.539 -- just 16 birdies -- placed it as the most difficult finishing hole in all non-majors since 2008. Overall, it ranked as the second-toughest hole overall on Tour. The par-5 No. 1, on the other hand, was the easiest hole on Tour in 2012 with a stroke average of 4.16. Dural will undergo a facelift starting in April under new owner Donald Trump. He reportedly will turn the par-3 15th into an island green like at TPC Sawgrass.
Pretty much every big-name player is here other than Brandt Snedeker, who hasn't played since Pebble Beach due to a rib injury. No doubt the world No. 4 is ensuring he's healthy for the Masters, although Snedeker certainly will play once before then if at all possible. Phil Mickelson is playing after taking two weeks off, and Luke Donald is in the field after not playing a week ago. Ditto Matt Kuchar, who took last week off following his win at the Match Play. McIlroy, Tiger and Donald are in the same threesome for the first two rounds -- assuming McIlroy plays two rounds.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: WGC-Cadillac Championship Favorites
Tiger is the 9/1 favorite at Bovada, which is no surprise considering he has three career wins at Doral (won this event six times, but only three at the Blue Monster and since a WGC). Before withdrawing due to injury last year, Tiger hadn't finished worse than T10 at this tournament.
Charl Schwartzel and defending champion Justin Rose are 14/1. Weather was a big factor in the final round in 2012, and Rose shot a 2-under 70 on a blustery Sunday to rally from three shots back for his first WGC title. Schwartzel finished second here in 2010 and fourth last year. He finished ninth last week at the Honda, his worst finish in his last eight stroke-play events around the world.
Donald and Kuchar round out the Top 5 at 18/1. Donald finished T16 in his lone PGA Tour stroke-play event this year and lasted two rounds at the Match Play. He has tied for sixth at this tournament the past two years. Kuchar is looking to join Tiger and Phil Mickelson as the only players to win two WGC events in the same season. Kuchar has the best average finish of any player at this event with an average of 5.3 in three starts.
PGA Tour Golf Picks: 2013 WGC-Cadillac Championship Predictions
On the head-to-head, I love Tiger at -175 against McIlroy (+135) again. However, I would take Kuchar (+125) against Woods (-165). Ditto Kuchar (-170) over McIlroy (+130). Also really like Mickelson (-115) over Adam Scott (-115) and Nick Watney (-120) over a struggling Dustin Johnson (-110). On the yes-only Top-10 props, take Woods (-110), Donald (+180) and Kuchar (+180).
I would probably recommend Kuchar to win here if he hadn't won in his last event. It's just too hard to win back-to-back, even with a week off in between. Mickelson (20/1) won here in 2009 but hasn't contended the past two years. He will need a tournament or two to adjust to Florida conditions off his two-week break.
The choice is Graeme McDowell at 33/1. He reached the quarterfinals in the Match Play and finished a solid ninth last week. McDowell finished T13 at this tournament a year ago despite an opening 75 and was T6 in 2010. McDowell is too talented not to have won on the PGA Tour since the 2010 U.S. Open.
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