By RANDALL MELL
The heart says the WGC-CA Championship is the King of the Florida Swing.
It’s played at Doral, after all, a word that for so long embodied the essence of the PGA Tour’s turn to the Sunshine State. It’s been home to a Florida event longer than any other PGA Tour stop (since 1962), and even though the Blue Monster’s sneer isn’t as menacing as it once was, the tournament’s lost little edge. The scores may be lower there nowadays, but the drama remains high with some terrific closing moments at that still demanding finishing hole. The Phil Mickelson-Tiger Woods final-round duel of ’05 was Doral at its finest.
The mind, though, says the Arnold Palmer Invitational is the King of the Florida Swing.
It is, after all, where the King reigns.
Or, that should be, where the Kings reign.
This is, of course, home club to Arnold Palmer. It’s also within the realm of Woods’ dominion as one of his most conquered territories. Woods has won six times at Bay Hill, twice as many times as he’s won at Doral. Woods hasn’t played the Honda Classic or the Transitions Championship as a pro, though both of those venues have worked to become strong PGA Tour stops. The Kings rule at Bay Hill.
By REX HOGGARD
Picking your favorite event in March is akin to picking your favorite hole at Augusta National, some may be more enjoyable than others but it takes all 18 to make the Mona Lisa.
Next week’s WGC-CA Championship at Doral has all the right ingredients – a golf course with a pedigree, solid field and plenty of history. Yet the harsh reality is the Blue Monster was much more enjoyable circa 2006, when we had the “Monster Grill” and monster showdowns, than it is under the World Golf Championship banner.
The Transitions Championship lacks history and a top-tier field, but Innisbrook’s Copperhead layout is sneaky good and one of the circuit’s best kept secrets. The Arnold Palmer Invitational has, well Arnie, but also has a less-than-beloved golf course and a date two weeks before the year’s first major.
Which brings us to the WGC-Honda Classic, or so it seems. This week’s field at PGA National includes four of the top 10 players in the World Ranking, a stellar layout that rewards the ponder (Ernie Els, 2008) just as much as the plodder (Mark Wilson, 2007), and benefits the Jack Nicklaus Foundation.
That’s a long way from the former real-estate shill – from “Most Improved” to “King of the Florida Swing.”