Tiger Looks to Rebound at Doral


2007 WGC CA ChampionshipMIAMI -- Like death and taxes, Tiger Woods' status as a weekly favorite is certain. Especially this week, at a tournament series and course where he's seen little failure - Doral Golf Resort and Spa and the WGC-CA Championship.
For Woods, Miami and the World Golf Championships have been muy bueno.
Tiger Woods
Tiger has won the last two times he has teed it up at Doral. (WireImage)
The world's No. 1 player has won the last two events at Doral, the Ford Championship, at a combined score of 44 under par -- but only by one shot each time.
He has won 12 of his 23 WGC starts since the series began in 1999, including five CA Championships (previously the American Express Championship). And he's done it all over the world, in places like Spain, Ireland and England.
In a word, Woods' prospect of a good finish this week is simply: guaranteed.
Doral will be hosting a WGC event for the first time, and like the first three legs of the PGA TOUR's early Florida swing, measures have been taken to make the course harder.
Renovated greens on the Blue Course should play faster, and longer rough should make it harder to reach them.
Last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the world's best golfers lost countless shots to Bay Hill's long rough, with Sunday's final round producing the highest average score on the PGA TOUR this season.
Not that we should be expecting this week's winner to score as low as Vijay Singh (minus-8) did in claiming Palmer's event on Sunday. At this event, the winning score hasn't been lower than 17-under since 2000, when Mike Weir won the AmEx at 11 under.
To draw the best players from professional tours around the world, the CA Championship uses specific criteria.
Those eligible include: players finishing at the top of the money list on their home tours; the top 30 players from the 2006 PGA TOUR money list; the top 20 from the 2006 European Tour Order of Merit; and top players from the Japan Golf Tour, Australasian Tour, Sunshine (South Africa) Tour and Asian Tour.
This year, players could qualify through the FedEx Cup standings, as well.
The CA Championship is a co-sanctioned event and part of the official PGA TOUR schedule.
The GOLF CHANNEL will have coverage of the first two rounds, before handing off to NBC for the weekend.
A run down on the players who are, of course, on the hot list:
Tiger Woods
Along with the above-mentioned, mind-boggling stats for Tiger at this venue and in this event, he will also bring something else to the table this week - complete focus. Not that he rarely gets away from that, but coming off a horrendous finish at Bay Hill and the fact that this will be his final tune-up before the Masters, you can see why he will be hitting on all cylinders at Doral.
Jim Furyk
Although he withdrew from Arnie's event in Orlando due to a lingering wrist injury, world No. 2 Furyk assured everyone that is was more precautionary than anything. Mr. Top-10 is back at a place where he as performed rather well over the last half-dozen seasons, which includes his win in 2000. His last six trips to Doral have produced four top-10s and a runner-up in a playoff.
David Toms
David was a runner-up last year at Doral. (WireImage)
David Toms
Much like his personality, it's been another quiet, but good year for the LSU grad Toms. He has posted three straight top-5s at Doral including a runner-up in '06. Currently hovering around the top-10 in scoring average on the PGA TOUR, Doral is a place where scoring is at a premium - in the last seven events at Doral, 17 under is the highest winning final score.
Vijay Singh
Just like prior to last week's event at Bay Hill, Singh has built an impressive resume at a course yet has been unable to get into the winner's circle. At Doral, Vijay has five top-5 finishe, three of which have come in his last four attempts. The first two-time winner on the PGA TOUR this season, the 44-year-old Fijian has plenty of confidence coming in and a top-10 is almost assured.
Ernie Els
The Big Easy hasn't played much on the PGA TOUR this year but has told the world of his plan to someday soon overtake the No. 1 spot in the world. First things first: try and win a tournament. As a former winner at Doral, he would do well to call on memories of his 2002 victory over, you guessed it, Tiger.
Here's another four-pack of players to watch for at the Blue Monster:
Camilo Villegas
Young and brash with the clothes to match, the Columbian-born Villegas has quickly racked up three runner-up finishes in his yet still young career on the PGA TOUR, including at Doral last season. This was his break-out event in his rookie season of '06.
John Rollins
The 31-year-old Rollins has played poorly in his only two starts at Doral, but this is a new year. This season, Rollins is on a roll - two runner-ups and another top-5 have him fourth in both the FedExCup point standings as well as the TOUR money list.
David Howell
With Doral thought of as a bomber's paradise, England's Howell should feel right at home. Currently ranked fifth in driving distance, Howell had a respectable 12th-place finsh last year at Doral.
Phil Mickelson
He sneaks in down here because of the way he both finished at Bay Hill and because of the legendary showdown here with Tiger two years ago. At Bay Hill, Lefty did himself and his fans no favor by closing with a double bogey for a tie for 36th. But, his second-place showing here in'05 is something he will draw on this week.
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