Will Doral’s Blue Monster spark the return of Tiger’s winning form?
You can rank Doral’s Blue Monster among the venues Tiger Woods has flourished on over the years.
It’s there with Torrey Pines, Firestone, Bay Hill, Cog Hill, Augusta National, Muirfield Village and Emirates Golf Club.
That’s not necessarily a good thing now, however.
While Woods has combined to win 35 times on those courses, he’s on a streak setting personal records for high scores on his most successful venues.
Over the last eight months, Woods has posted his high marks as a pro at Cog Hill (283), Firestone (298), Torrey Pines (287) and Emirates (284). Over the next six weeks, he’s got Doral, Bay Hill and Augusta National to play.
Woods has won three times at Doral. In seven starts on the Blue Monster, he’s never finished outside the top 10.
Woods equaled the tournament scoring record at 24-under 264 when he won at Doral in 2005.
Nobody should be surprised, though, if something kicks in on the Blue Monster.
Just last week, Jack Nicklaus said playing Baltusrol at the U.S. Open in 1980 helped pull him out of the worst slump of his career. He won for a second time at Baltusrol making his return there.
Where does Doral rank among Tiger’s hot spots?
Woods can become the winningest player in the history of Doral’s PGA Tour stop if he claims the title this week.
Woods won at Doral in 2005, ’06 and ’07. That equals Greg Norman, Raymond Floyd and Andy Bean for most PGA Tour titles there.
Though Woods has won more professional titles at Torrey Pines (7), Firestone (7), Bay Hill (6), Cog Hill (5), Muirfield Village (4) and Augusta National (4), he sports one of his better scoring averages at Doral among events where he’s played at least 20 rounds.
Here are Woods’ scoring averages as a pro at his best PGA Tour stops (rounds played in parenthesis):
Firestone Country Club 68.15 (44).
Emirates Golf Club 68.41 (24).
Doral’s Blue Monster 68.42 (28).
Cog Hill 68.56 (48).
Torrey Pines North/South 68.61 (47).
Muirfield Village 69.61 (47).
Bay Hill 69.73 (52).
Augusta National 70.48 (56).
Is Phil Mickelson ready to win again?
Phil Mickelson believes a victory is all he needs to feel like his game is right where he wants it before the Masters.
With the year’s first major just four weeks away, Mickelson’s planning a trip to Augusta National this week to get some Masters’ work in and another trip there the week of the Shell Houston Open.
Lefty needs a victory for more than the extra jolt of confidence it will give him. He needs one to replenish world ranking points. He’s poised to lose even more points than Tiger Woods this week. Mickelson’s victory at Doral two years ago comes off his world ranking points total next week. Woods will lose points he won for tying for ninth at Doral two years ago.
Will the Euros win another big event?
The Europeans are on a dominant run.
When England’s Luke Donald won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship two weeks ago, it marked the fifth victory by a European or European Tour member in the last six World Golf Championships/major championships.
Tracing backward, that’s Luke Donald at the WGC-Accenture, Francesco Molinari at the WGC-HSBC Champions, Martin Kaymer at the PGA Championship, Louis Oosthuizen at the British Open and Graeme McDowell at the U.S. Open. Hunter Mahan scored the only non-Euro victory in that string of WGCs and majors, winning the WGC-Bridgestone.
Are the South Africans poised for another large victory?
Ernie Els and Retief Goosen may have hit 40, but the South African contingent still looks strong.
Els is the defending champ at the WGC-Cadillac Championship this week. He battled fellow countryman Charl Schwartzel down the stretch on the Blue Monster last year. Rory Sabbatini is coming off a victory at the Honda Classic last week, which vaulted him into running to make the International team for the Presidents Cup.
Did you know the top five players on the Internationals’ team point standings are all South Africans? Els, Goosen, Tim Clark, Oosthuizen and Schwartzel top the list. Sabbatini jumped to 18th with his Honda victory.
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