What We Learned: WGC-Cadillac Championship


Each week, the GolfChannel.com team offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent events. This week, the team reflects on the WGC-Cadillac Championship from the TPC Blue Monster at Doral and Tiger Woods' withdrawal late Sunday due to a hurt left Achilles.

I learned that no matter what Tiger Woods does, he’ll always be wrong in the eyes of some fans. Here is a sampling of tweets I received after his withdrawal on Sunday: 

“I knew he was still injured!” (Funny. Didn’t hear anyone making that claim after he shot a final-round 62 last week.) 

“He’s just a quitter and a sore loser!” (In 278 career PGA Tour starts, he has withdrawn exactly five times – or once every three years.) 

“He would have kept going if he was in contention!” (Well, yeah. No kidding. Same goes for every other player on Tour. If you’re injured, but in contention, you gut it out; if you’re injured and out of the mix, there’s no point in risking further damage to the injury.) 

Conspiracy theories aside, the truth is, Woods was close to regaining top form before injuring himself once again. We don’t yet know the extent of the left Achilles injury, but if it was enough to force him from the event, then it’s enough to cause plenty of concern. I’ve never understood claims – in golf or other sports – from fans who consider athletes “soft” for repeatedly getting injured. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. Tiger didn’t hurt himself on purpose or through any fault of his own, so why is there such a backlash against him right now? Well, as we’ve learned when it comes to him, such criticism will always exist, no matter what. – Jason Sobel

Tiger Woods can’t push his practice regimen or his schedule or a body aging fast with injury.

Not now.

So excited because his body felt so good putting in so much practice time again, Woods took a step backwards at Doral. We don’t know how serious the Achilles’ injury is. Maybe this is just a minor setback, but given the history of his left leg, questions arise anew.

This week, Woods was making his third tournament appearance in three weeks. That seemed like terrific news, confirmation he was healthy and strong again. We learned his body isn’t ready for three consecutive tournaments. What that means to future schedules is unclear, but you could see Woods cutting back now, and that can’t be good, given how thrilled he was that the fruit of all his hard work was showing in his improved swing and game.

Woods has been slaying some demon doubts with his improved play, but this brings doubt back into play. We just aren’t sure how much it brings it into play or for how long. Randall Mell

I learned what Gil Hanse looks like. He's tall, very tall. Had known the name, played his Castle Stuart design in Scotland two years ago and loved it, but was not familiar with him. This week he was omnipresent – at dinners, in the media center, on the practice range, in news conferences, chatting with players. Good guy, thoughtful guy. No hint of ego, a disciple of Tom Doak and the perfect choice to design the 2016 Olympic golf course in Rio. – Jay Coffin

That golf’s new normal looks a lot like the past following Rory McIlroy’s closing 67 to finish third at Doral a week after winning the Honda Classic; and that no lead is safe on the PGA Tour. At last month’s Mayakoba Golf Classic, John Huh rallied from seven shots back to win and on Sunday at Doral, Justin Rose raced past Bubba Watson with a closing 70 after starting the final turn three strokes back. – Rex Hoggard

I learned that professional golfers can be just as uncomfortable on the links as us less-talented wannabes. 

Bubba Watson appeared ready to conquer a course that he didn't like on Sunday at Doral, but the course finally got in his head. Keegan Bradley looked to be ready to move beyond that playoff loss – and the spittle – at Riviera and the poor Sunday at PGA National, then the putter went ice cold. Even world No. 1 Rory McIlroy got close, but could not push his way through the open door to take the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

Justin Rose, however, did step up and grab what was his for the taking. A fourth win in less than two years makes him a lock for the Ryder Cup team. – Ryan Ballengee