The Florida swing continues Thursday afternoon in South Florida with the second WGC event in the last three weeks, this one at the historic but completely redone Doral. Donald Trump took over the course and enlisted Gil Hanse to redesign the TPC Blue Monster, which should be play completely different than the pros are used to at this annual stop. Hanse added new bunkers, ponds, tees, shifted fairways, and changed greens in what was not some slight touching up, but rather a total makeover.
This is the first time every pro in the field will get a crack at the new Doral in competition, and a stocked field of the top 50 players in the world will be in attendance to take aim. The WGC Cadillac Championship falls in a great spot on the calendar and typically draws everyone at the top of the OWGR. The WGC titles at Doral and Firestone are typically two of the best non-major fields of the year, and this week is loaded again with the Masters rapidly approaching.
But like all WGC events, this one is a limited field with no cut on Friday evening. The switch to the WGC format has boosted the field a bit, but there have been drawbacks, with ticket prices rising and a once large and fun Miami crowd dwindling since the event became more exclusive. The smaller field, however, does give the PGA Tour a bit of scheduling flexibility, as there's no need to jam 150 players or so through two waves of tee times from sun up to sun down. The Tour will still send groups off split tees in threesomes, but everyone will go out in one two-hour window.
The bunched up and later tee times are obviously a huge benefit for TV coverage. The entire field will play a majority of their round during the Golf Channel broadcast window, which starts at 1 p.m. ET. The biggest draw of the loaded field, Tiger Woods, is out in the second half of the tee times and will go with Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson at 12:39 p.m. at No. 1.
Who knows to expect from Tiger at this point. Woods took his first tour through the new design on Wednesday afternoon, but he didn't hit any shots outside of 80 yards, as he continues to rest his back from the spasms that forced Sunday's WD up the road at the Honda Classic. So he's only done some light chipping and putting, and a course book mapped out by "Joey," his caddie Joe LaCava, is the extent of his familiarity with this week's track. That's not necessarily the blueprint for a Tiger win, but at this point in his career, the No. 1 player in the world doesn't need a ton of prep work. Whether his back holds up is an entirely different question.
We'll start to know more around 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon. Woods, Scott and Stenson are a power grouping, no doubt, but this field is so loaded that there are big names in almost every slot. Here's the full tee sheet for Thursday's opening round:
Tee No. 1:
|11:00 a.m.||Kevin Streelman||Scott Hend||Darren Fichardt|
|11:11 a.m.||Hyung-Sung Kim||Boo Weekley||D.A. Points|
|11:22 a.m.||Russell Henley||Richard Sterne||Miguel A. Jimenez|
|11:33 a.m.||Kiradech Aphibarnrat||Gary Woodland||George Coetzee|
|11:44 a.m.||Jamie Donaldson||Hunter Mahan||Peter Uihlein|
|11:55 a.m.||Bill Haas||Ernie Els||Francesco Molinari|
|12:06 p.m.||Brandt Snedeker||Jim Furyk||Webb Simpson|
|12:17 p.m.||Steve Stricker||Bubba Watson||Graeme McDowell|
|12:28 p.m.||Justin Rose||Zach Johnson||Sergio Garcia|
|12:39 p.m.||Tiger Woods||Adam Scott||Henrik Stenson|
|12:50 p.m.||Jimmy Walker||Lee Westwood||Matteo Manassero|
Tee No. 10:
|11:00 a.m.||Harris English||Jonas Blixt||Brendon de Jonge|
|11:11 a.m.||Hideki Matsuyama||Victor Dubuisson||Luke Donald|
|11:22 a.m.||Charl Schwartzel||Jason Dufner||Ian Poulter|
|11:33 a.m.||Dustin Johnson||Matt Kuchar||Jordan Spieth|
|11:44 a.m.||Jason Day||Phil Mickelson||Rory McIlroy|
|11:55 a.m.||Louis Oosthuizen||Keegan Bradley||Martin Kaymer|
|12:06 p.m.||Brett Rumford||Chris Kirk||Dawie van der Walt|
|12:17 p.m.||Thongchai Jaidee||Ryan Moore||Kevin Stadler|
|12:28 p.m.||Patrick Reed||Jin Jeong||Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano|
|12:39 p.m.||Nick Watney||Roberto Castro||Stephen Gallacher|
|12:50 p.m.||Rickie Fowler||Graham DeLaet||Joost Luiten|
|1:01 p.m.||Branden Grace||Billy Horschel||Thomas Bjorn|