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The first of the 2015 World Golf Championships – The Cadillac Championship – tees off this week at the Trump National Doral, Florida, and runs from the 5th to the 8th of March.
The World Golf Championships (WGC) are a group of four annual events for professional golfers, created by the International Federation of PGA Tours. All four WGC tournaments are classed as official money events on the various tours, and although they may not have the prestige of the Majors, they all exceed them in terms of prize money. The Cadillac Championship has a purse of $9,250,000 million, with a $1,570,000 prize for the winner.
The ‘Blue Monster’ course underwent a multi-million dollar revamp prior to last year’s tournament which, along with strong winds, threw up some surprise results with an average score for the week of 73.852. The weather forecast is much better for this year, and although there might be a little bit of rain, it is expected to be warm and breezy for most of the duration. Last year’s winner Patrick Reed held on to beat Bubba Watson and Jamie Donaldson by a shot, and he’ll be back to defend his title this year. It will be a tough proposition though, as the world’s top 50 players are all set to line up for the event.
World number one Rory McIlroy heads the betting, which is to be expected, and he’ll be looking to bounce back after missing the cut for the Honda Classic last week. He’s followed in the betting by world number two, Bubba Watson, but we prefer the chances of world number three, Henrik Stenson, at a very nice price.
Rory McIlroy – +600 with Totesport
McIlroy retains the world number one slot, and is mighty tempting at the price to go on and win his second WGC title, after taking the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone last year. 2014 was an incredible year for the Irish golfer, in which he won the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool and the PGA Championship at Valhalla to record his third and fourth Majors titles. Rather uncharacteristically, he missed the cut at the Honda Classic last week – his first missed cut since June last year – carding a four-over 74 at Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. If he maintains the form he showed throughout 2014 he’s a serious contender for all of the high-profile events this year, and it would be no great surprise if he got off to a winning start here.
Bubba Watson is a multiple major winner, having won the Masters Tournament in 2012 and 2014, and comes to the Cadillac Championship in great form. He’s risen to number two in the world – his highest ever ranking – and he has form at the course after finishing second last year. He’s one of the longest drivers on the PGA Tour, and has a confirmed love for this course, which tends to favour the big-hitters with the full complement of par fives. He certainly comes to the tournament with every chance.
Of those players further back in the betting stakes, Segio Garcia could be a good outside shot for the tournament. He’s spent the vast majority of his career inside the world’s top ten, but has yet to win a major championship. He’s had a number of near misses though, including finishing runner-up on four occasions – twice at the Open Championship and twice at the PGA Championship – and a further six top five finishes. After the controversy that blighted 2013, Garcia started 2014 with a victory in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, which elevated him back into the top ten. He went on to finish runner-up to Rory McIlroy at the Open Championship in July, and currently occupies the world number seven slot.
World number three, Henrik Stenson, is a very tempting price and is worth a small each-way investment, with most bookies paying out a quarter of the odds on a top five finish. Stenson has had a long career, in which he has spent more than 100 weeks inside the top ten players in the world. He tied 16 in this tournament last year, but showed excellent consistency throughout 2014 which saw him briefly occupy the world number two spot, and achieve best-ever finishes in the Masters (T14), the U.S. Open (T4), and equal his best in the PGA Championship (T3). For a player playing at something approaching the top of his game, Stenson represents good value for an each-way shot at the title at a very respectable price.
Other players to watch
Lat year’s winner may have suffered in the media somewhat after uttering that famous line, “I’m one of the top five players in the world”, but Patrick Reed has the chance to let his clubs do the talking here. He’s currently ranked 15th in the world, and needs to have a good year to fulfill his own prophecy, but there’s no reason why he can’t. He’s a big-hitter who benefited from this ‘long’ course in that victory last year, and another big-hitting player to watch from among the outsiders could be Brooks Koepka. He had a strong 2014 in which he achieved a top five finish in the U.S. Open, before winning the Turkish Airlines Open and the Waste Management Phoenix Open. His star is rising in the world of golf and there have been much worse +4000 shots.
McIlroy would be the obvious choice of winner, and those who back him at +600 may look back and pat themselves on the back, but there remains a seed of doubt after he missed the cut for the Honda Classic. We’re happy to take a small each-way punt on Stenson in the first WGC Championship event of the season.
To win the WGC Cadillac Championship – 5th to 8th March 2015
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