Teeing Off: The Coral Golf Blog
The second World Golf Championship of the year takes place this week with the world’s top 50 players all competing at the newly revamped Trump National Doral. Tiger Woods won 12 months ago but the Blue Monster has been overhauled since to toughen up the challenge at the lengthened 7,481-yard par 72. Luke Donald played the renovated Florida course a couple of weeks ago and expects scoring to still be decent so plenty of birdies will be needed to take home the title.
Coral are offering Money Back if your golfer finishing second, so there’s never been a better time to follow the four men I think could make a major impact in Miami this weekend.
Dustin Johnson (pictured) has started this year in exceptional form and looks ready to land another win very soon. The 29-year-old has finished no worse than tied sixth in strokeplay events which has included runner-up at Pebble Beach and the Northern Trust Open. His stats are exceptional as the American is first in scoring average, par breakers and the all round ranking. All facets of his game are on song and he should be a prime contender this week.
Johnson has come close to winning at Doral previously as he finished second three years ago and was a respectable 12th last season so has course form in the bank. His confidence has undoubtedly been lifted by a superb win at the HSBC Champions in China back in November and a second WGC title could be on the cards. Johnson’s power game should take apart the par fives and he is well worth support at 18/1 each way.
Phil Mickelson is a very generous price this week, on the basis of some indifferent results, but is more than capable of quickly finding his best form. The popular American missed the cut at the Honda Classic last week but his long game was actually in decent shape hitting 75 per cent of the fairways. ‘Lefty’, who is yet to get off the mark in 2014, loves this time of the season with 21 wins coming in the opening three months of the year during his career.
Mickelson will be motivated to get some momentum ahead of the Masters next month and with few starts between now and then, this will be a big opportunity to build his confidence. The 43-year-old has had success at Doral where he tied for third 12 months ago and won the title five years ago. The 2013 Open champion looks overpriced this week and should give you a decent run for your money at 25/1.
Keegan Bradley has only made two appearances at Doral but the powerful American has already made a strong impression on both visits. The 27-year-old tied for eighth on his debut two years ago and returned in 2013 to surpass this effort with seventh place. Bradley lives in Florida and is clearly comfortable playing in the area as his form when 12th at the Honda Classic indicates.
The 2011 USPGA champion has been working on swing changes having recently joined forces with Jason Dufner’s coach Chuck Cook and is quietly rounding into form. Ryder Cup hopeful Bradley is currently fifth in total driving and sixth for scrambling on the PGA Tour so there isn’t too much wrong with his swing. This could be the week when he gets another victory after a winless campaign last season so take Bradley at 28/1 each way.
Ernie Els has enjoyed plenty of success at the Blue Monster down the years and the South African looks a spot of value in this week’s field. The Big Easy held off the challenge of Woods to win at the Miami track back in 2002 but proved this was no fluke when he won there again four years ago.
Els has struggled on the greens in recent years but the 2012 Open champion found his touch at last month’s World Matchplay Championship. Finishing fourth in such elite company will have done his confidence wonders and his short game stats really stood out. The four-time major champion is currently sixth in strokes gained putting, first in sand save percentage and third in scrambling. This suggests Els could go very close to a third success here and is well worth backing at 66/1 each way.
Follow Simon’s bets on Twitter @watfordtipster