Not too long ago, Australian Adam Scott was No. 1 in the world and the brightest rising star in golf. But as seems to happen only in golf, as someone like former No. 1 David Duval can attest, his game left him.
It appears Scott is back to form -- even though he can't anchor his putter any longer -- as he won the Honda Classic, the opening of the Florida Swing, on Sunday at PGA National. Just for a point of comparison here. Since Scott's last PGA Tour win at the Colonial in 2014, when he reached No. 1 in the world, Jordan Spieth won eight times, Rory McIlroy seven and Jason Day five. Scott was an afterthought to that young trio.
On Sunday, Scott shot a final-round even-par 70 for a one-shot win over Sergio Garcia. He won in just his third start since the new anchored putting rule took effect, and it was his first victory with a conventional putter since 2010 in Asia. He won the 2013 Masters with the anchored style. Scott switched back for good to the old style last fall at The Presidents Cup to get ahead of the rule change. On Sunday, Scott finished at 9-under 271 and moved back into the world Top 10, at No. 9, for the first time in a year. He was able to win despite a quadruple-bogey at No. 15 in the third round. No player had won an event with a quad since Phil Mickelson at the 2009 Tour Championship. Overall this season, Scott now a win and two runners-up in six starts, ranking third in the FedEx Cup standings. His 12 career wins are the most on the PGA Tour by any player currently younger than 40.
I threw some longer-shot action on Russell Knox to win the Honda Classic at +3300. He finished T26. My main choice was McIlroy, who had been very hit or miss at PGA National. He was in miss mode last week, missing the cut. Frankly, I didn't get much right at the Honda, just a few head-to-heads.
Now the PGA Tour moves south along Florida's East Coast to the Blue Monster at Trump Doral outside Miami for the big-money, invitation-only World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championships, and this might be the most political PGA Tour event ever. It could be the final time the tournament is held at Trump Doral. Back in December, the PGA Tour said it was considering moving this event following this year when Trump starting talking about banning Muslims from entering the United States. The Blue Monster course has hosted a PGA Tour event since 1962 and a World Golf Championship event since 2007. Trump purchased the resort in June 2012.
Trump is rather busy these days, but reports are he plans to be there for Sunday's final round. "I'll be there very limited because I have the Secret Service." Trump has said. "But I'll be there." Trump participated in the trophy presentation in past years, and it's not clear if that will happen this time. Trump can do some campaigning in the Sunshine State while he's there with the all-important Florida primary on March 15.
A total of 48 of the world's Top 50 are set to play. The two who are aren't Jim Furyk (wrist surgery) and Thongchai Jaidee (illness). It's the first event of 2016 to feature Spieth, Day and McIlroy. Those three are grouped the first two rounds. There is no cut. Dustin Johnson is back to defend his title. He rallied from a five-shot deficit to J.B. Holmes on Sunday and beat Holmes by a shot thanks to a final-round 69 in 2015. Johnson finished at 9-under 279. Holmes struggled to a 75. Bubba Watson went from a five-shot deficit to a two-shot lead on the front nine, but three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine pretty much ended his chances. He finished third at 7 under.
Golf Odds: WGC-Cadillac Championship Favorites
McIlroy is the +900 favorite . Maybe not having to play last Saturday and Sunday will be a good thing. Certainly hard to see him struggling for a second straight week. He has four Top 10s in his past five trips here and was ninth in 2015.
Watson is +1000. This course is a monster, literally, so that benefits the big-hitting lefty. He has been off since winning the Northern Trust Open, and in addition to last year's third-place finish at Doral he was second in 2014 and '12.
Spieth, Johnson (both +1100), Day and Scott (both +1200) round out the favorites. Spieth missed a cut two weeks ago and was 17th here last year. It's not really a course that suits him. Johnson also has a second and fourth here on top of last year's win. Scott was fourth here in 2015.
PGA Tour Picks: WGC-Cadillac Championship Expert Betting Predictions
For a Top-10 finish, I like McIlroy (-110), Johnson (+110) and Watson (+125). Head-to-head, go with Johnson ( -130) over Day (even money), Rickie Fowler (-150) over Justin Rose (+115), McIlroy (-125) over Spieth (-105), Garcia (-115) over Phil Mickelson (-115), Brooks Koepka (-130) over Patrick Reed (even), Holmes (-115) over Henrik Stenson (-115), and Watson (-120) over Scott.
I will go with Day at +135 as top Australian and Danny Willett (+450) as top Englishman. I like Louis Oosthuizen (+165) as top South African. He won last week overseas.
I'm in a bit of a pickle here. I think either Watson or Johnson will win, but I don't like picking guys to win back-to-back events (Watson) or back-to-back years (Johnson). I'm going to throw some money on Bill Haas at +7000 to win as he's been in the Top 10 here the past two years. But let's go Watson as I'll cut him some slack because his victory wasn't last week.
Want free sports betting picks? Doc's Sports has you covered - get $60 worth of picks free from any of Doc's Sports expert handicappers. Click here for free picks (new clients only).
Read more articles by Alan Matthews