Sports Betting Weekly

WGC-Cadillac Championship

When: Thursday, 05 March 2015 (FINISHED)
Where: TPC Blue Monster at Doral Florida
The first World Golf Championship event of the year begins in Doral, Florida this week, and with another all-star cast turning up to take their shot at taming “The Blue Monster”, there looks set to be ample opportunity to find some solid value on this notoriously difficult par 72.

Having been a regular stop on the PGA Tour since 1962 in the form of the Doral Open and then the Ford Championship prior to its current incarnation, the course earned its nickname due to the presence of water hazards on the majority of holes and the event’s consistently low winning score.

As clubs and coaching improved, however, that name became a bit of a running joke – Tiger Woods bested the once-formidable Blue Monster with a score of -19 in 2013 – but a major reworking of the course prior to last year’s tournament meant it would be the last time anyone had such an easy ride.

Indeed, last year’s event set a new record for wayward shots with 318 balls finding a watery grave – almost 100 more than the previous highest tally – and just seven rounds finished bogey-free during the entire week. Such stats resulted in eventual champion, Patrick Reed, winning the event with a score of four-under-par, meaning that Doral had officially become a beast of a course once again.

Given the above, it is hardly surprising that Doral is not the place for golfers to find their feet and being bang on form going into the event is crucial now that the course has been toughened up. That being said, there is a marked difference between the West Coast Swing and the Florida Swing and it would be unwise to assume a player can simply carry their recent performances from one state to the other unless they have history in Doral or a good record in the South-eastern state in general.

Unlike a lot of stops on the West Coast Swing, greens in regulation does not seem to be as vital a stat – Reed was ranked 34th in this category last year – as it usually is, with greater emphasis instead placed on putting and scrambling. Length off the tee is also a major asset at Doral, and this was proved last year when four of the first five ranked inside the top 10 for driving distance in the event.

Generally speaking, then, Doral is no longer the birdie-fest it was a couple of years ago and has instead reverted to the tricky tournament grind it was originally created to be. A champion’s chances hinge on their ability to compensate for wind well enough to avoid the course’s numerous blue dangers, while also handling the Bermuda greens well enough to keep their overall score down.

From an in-play point of view, it is worth noting that with the exception of Woods’ other victory on the course in 2007, every winner since has been inside the top five after 18 holes and four of the seven have won wire-to-wire. It should be clear, therefore, that Doral is a frontrunners’ course and whoever is leading the way as we publish is definitely worth taking a look at when picking a winner.


Going into this year’s TPC Blue Monster at Doral, it is Rory McIlroy who again leads the market at odds of 6/1 – but there are certainly plenty of reasons to suggest that the current world #1 should be swerved at such a short price. For one, McIlroy’s 20-65-19-3-8-25 record at Doral is nothing to write home about and the sharp drop off between his top 10 finish in 2013 and his 25th place last year certainly seems to suggest that he didn’t enjoy the changes made to the course 12 months ago.

Couple that with the fact that McIlroy has just one win from his 18 starts in Florida and it seems fairly ridiculous that his odds are currently a full 10 points shorter than either of his nearest competitors, Bubba Watson and Jason Day, who are both available at 16/1. The latter will certainly benefit from having the last week off after a couple of weeks in contention, but having missed the event in 2014, he’ll be playing the new course layout for the first time and that could well prove too big a disadvantage to overcome for a man who’s never bettered a tied 20th finish in Doral previously.

Of the two, it is therefore Watson who holds far more interest from a betting point of view. The American gave himself a mountain to climb last year with an opening round 73, but an improved performance throughout the week saw him finish just one shot behind Reed on -3 as one of only three men to break par. Having also finished runner-up in 2012 and led after round one in 2013, Watson likes the venue and if he can build on last year’s performance, he’ll definitely be one to keep an eye on.

Below those two, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and last year’s champion Reed are all players also worthy of consideration. At 25/1, the 2014 title winner is the longest odds of the three and comes into the event in decent form this season, though he did uncharacteristically bottle his chance at winning the Honda Classic last week as he slumped to a T7 finish. Nevertheless, Reed knows the lay of the land in Doral and as a former winner, his chances of a repeat success must be taken seriously.

Johnson and Spieth, meanwhile, are both available at 20/1 and despite the former missing the cut at the Honda Classic, he’ll be heavily fancied to extend his recent sequence of good results. That being said, Johnson’s form in the Sunshine State is a worry – he’s made just two top 10s in 21 appearances and has missed the cut in Florida on 10 occasions – which makes Spieth arguably a better shout given he’s a top 10 machine irrespective of where he plays and also fares well in windy conditions.


If we are to delve further down the odds, one player who has a lot of buzz around their chances going into this year’s tournament is Brooks Koepka at 33/1. True, this will represent the first time he’s played the Blue Monster at Doral, but that didn’t stop Reed 12 months ago – and as a native Floridian, you’d imagine he already has ample experience of the course. Couple that with the fact that Koepka already has a major tournament under his belt this season and the price being quoted at the moment just seems too long for a player who is on the up and widely known for his driving game.

Also worthy of consideration as we get more and more into each-way territory is Keegan Bradley, who came within a whisker of causing a long-shot upset as he missed the Northern Trust Open play-off by a single shot a fortnight ago. Although he failed to impress at the newly revamped course last year, previous eighth and seventh place finishes at the old Doral show that he does have some pedigree in these parts and odds of 50/1 in some places look too good to turn down. Given Bradley has a WGC and a major among his three PGA titles, we know he has the temperament to win events like this and he fully deserves a second chance to prove he can slay the Blue Monster this time out.

At 45/1 Jamie Donaldson weighs in at shorter odds than Bradley and slides down our reckoning accordingly, but he could nevertheless be a player who has the potential to overhaul the market leaders in Florida this weekend. Despite playing some impressive golf recently, Donaldson’s performances haven’t really garnered the recognition they deserve and a T6 finish at the Honda Classic proves that he’s a man brimming with confidence right now. Having finished joint runner-up in Doral last year, he knows how to navigate the new layout and looks a solid bet at chunky odds.

Rounding up our selection of longer-odds punts for the Blue Monster at Doral is Graeme McDowell at a best price of 66/1. True, G-Mac has made an inauspicious start to 2015 and missed the cut at the Honda Classic last week, but having made top 10 finishes in his last two outings at the course –both pre and post renovation – he’s certainly familiar with the layout and has the history in Florida to suggest that if he gets off to a good start, he’ll be a tough man to catch despite his lengthy price.