The best field of the pre-Masters portion of the season tees it up Thursday in Miami for the opening round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. A WGC event will usually draw all the best players in the world, but Doral and Firestone get an extra boost from their spot on the schedule, as well as the comfort and approval of the tour pros.
This Doral, however, is a different Blue Monster and one that these pros have never faced in the annual swing down to Miami. Donald Trump took ownership of the resort and enlisted Gil Hanse, the architect charged with the honor of building the 2016 Olympics course in Rio, to remake the TPC Blue Monster. The result is a Trump Doral tour course that's not just touched up, but totally overhauled with new hazards, bunkers, tees, fairways and greens. By all accounts, it's a much more exciting but tougher setup, particularly over the final four finishing holes that could completely shuffle the leaderboard on Sunday.
The Tour's swing back east to Florida also brings a handoff of the TV coverage from CBS to NBC. And given that NBC is under the same Comcast umbrella as the Golf Channel, the coverage becomes more comprehensive. There's no half-hour blackout period on the weekends, and Golf Channel is now experimenting with "spotlight coverage" running concurrently during the usual NBC broadcasts (more here on what some call "the future of golf broadcasting"). The first two rounds, however, will fall exclusively on Golf Channel, so there's limited Johnny Miller for everyone.
Golf Channel is scheduled to come on the air a 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, but there will be highlights and live look-ins throughout their pregame show. Tiger Woods, playing in the marquee group with Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson, is out later in the two-hour cluster of tee times and goes off No. 1 at 12:39 p.m. Like all WGC events, this is a limited field with no cut, so the entire field, which starts teeing off at 11 a.m., should have a majority of their round fall within the broadcast window of the first round.
If you can't catch the first round on TV, Golf Channel will also have their usual simulcast up and running via their LiveExtra service. In addition to that, PGATour.com is back again this week with their featured holes stream, beginning on the first hole with the first group at 11 a.m. That's not as valuable this week with no morning wave playing their round in obscurity before the broadcast, but it's still another option if you need something to watch right at the start of the round. Here are all your media options for the opening 18 at the Blue Monster:
Thursday's first round coverage
1 to 6 p.m. -- Golf Channel
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. -- PGATour.com featured holes stream (primarily No. 1, added coverage of Nos. 15, 18)
1 to 6 p.m. -- Golf Channel simulcast stream
Noon to 6 p.m. -- PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 93/208)