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Preview: WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National

Preview – World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship – Trump National at Doral – Miami, Florida –

The second World Golf Championships (WGC) event of the year highlights a new look to an old course.

The new Trump National at Doral hosts the WGC-Cadillac Championship at the same location as year’s past, but a make-over is the difference this week. From fairways to greens, the Blue Monster has changed.

All eyes will be on top-ranked and defending champion Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. Both has difficult finishes last week at The Honda Classic with Woods withdrawing (back) and Rory crumbling down the stretch as the 54-hole leader before losing in a playoff.

The limited and elite field includes just 67 golfers including most of the Top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking. A strong international influence makes up the field this week with 33 European Tour members teeing it up.

The last six champs at this event include Justin Rose, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy and Woods. All but Ogilvy will compete this week.

Jason Day makes his first start since capturing the WGC Accenture Match Play title two weeks ago in the Arizona desert. Semi-finals Els, Victor Dubuisson and Rickie Fowler are also playing in Miami.

2013 Results:

  • Woods (19-under) opened 66-65 and went on to capture the title by two shots over Steve Stricker, who carded four rounds in the 60s at the TPC Blue Monster. Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott were T-3 at five shots back.

Golf Channel has television coverage in the opening two rounds and early coverage on the weekend with NBC Sports handling network coverage for the final two rounds.

FANTASY: Woods is usually a sure-thing at Doral, but his back is now a concern along with the course changes. Take McIlroy, who was T-8 here last year. He is streaky player and hunger to bounce back after a playoff loss last week. G-Mac is second in Scoring Average on the PGA Tour this season to Dustin Johnson. Consider Watney, who won here in 2011 and was a runner-up in 2009. For a veteran European Tour player, consider Thomas Bjorn. He leads the Race To Dubai standings and was in the mix for a bit at The Honda Classic.

BETTORS: McIlroy is the overall betting favorite at Skybet.com at 7-to-1 odds followed by Scott and Woods at 12-1. Dustin Johnson (16-1) enters with four Top 10s in five PGA Tour starts this year. He won the last stroke-play WGC title at the HSBC Champions in China last November.  Garcia (16-1) rallied for a T-8 at PGA National last week. He should play well at this big stage. Keegan Bradley was 7th here last year, so consider him at 28-1. Take Dubuisson (50-1) to keep his American-tour running. The match-play runner-up has been playing PGA Tour events in the U.S. for the last month. He’s a great long-shot pick.

Other Golf News:

  • The PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open tees off Thursday at Trump International Golf Club in Rio Grande. The field includes Tim Clark, John Daly, Ryo Ishikawa and David Hearn. Scott Brown is scheduled to tee off and attempt to defend his title at the event.
  • The LPGA Tour visits America for the first time in 2014 next week at the LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix. Stacy Lewis is the defending champion.
  • Dustin Johnson leads the PGA Tour in Greens In Regulation Percentage this season at 76 percent. Ryan Moore ranks second in the category.
  • Charles Howell III is quietly producing without a victory in 2014. He has five Top 10s – second to only Harris English’s six – and ranks fourth in Scrambling.
  • The Ladies European Tour hosts the Mission Hills Ladies World Championship in China. Inbee Park is the favorite at 2 1/2-1 odds followed by World No. 2 and defending champion Suzann Pettersen. Both finished T-4 last week to Paula Creamer in Singapore.