The Blue Moster looms as the PGA Tour heads to Miami for the WGC-Cadillac Championship. It’s a star-studded cast as usual at a World Golf Championship event. It’s also worth noting that due to the limited field there is no 36-hole cut, so all your roster will be available and on the course as long as they can avoid wisdom tooth pain. The other pain players will need to avoid is the famous 18th hole which is known as the hardest finishing hole in the tour’s regular rotation and lived up to that billing last year as it played over a half-stroke over par on average and was the hardest closing hole in a non-major in years. This week’s cavalcade of stars will face a tough challenge, but there are definitely some nice fantasy options as the players take their talents to South Beach to tame the monster.
Last week was also a field full of big names, but that didn’t deter Michael Thompson from getting his first Tour win. In our FantasyCPR Group, it was Bushwood who claimed his first tournament win thanks to solid play from a trio of internationals-Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, and Lee Westwood. I had McDowell and Rose, but didn’t realize Jason Day wasn’t playing until too late dropping my entry to a unspectacular 168. It was barely enough to hold off Bushwood who moved into third in the segment scoring. I held second just barely, but we’re all still chasing Eagle’s nest who has 1,273 segment points (adjusted to drop lowest score). In the unadjusted Season rankings, Bushwood leads me by three and Eagle’s Nest is five points behind me in third.
There’s still plenty of golf to go though with four tournaments before the end of the winter segment. Overall, I’m ranked 411 overall and still in the top 1% of entries overall. Here’s how I’m hoping to stay there this week:
Bubba Watson: Bubba’s game is a nice fit for the Blue Monster as he showed last year as he finished runner-up to Justin Rose. Watson was in the quarterfinals of the WGC Match Play event and has three top 15’s in his four starts so far this season.
Graeme McDowell: McDowell was steady and solid last week on his way to a top ten finish at the Honda Classic. He was eliminated in the quarterfinals as well two weeks ago and finished t13 last year in this event. McDowell is one of the few golfers I feel can win any week and in any tournament he’s playing, so I’ll try to keep this start but have him ready to plug in if he’s at or near the top headed into the weekend.
Justin Rose: Rose won last year and comes in playing well with a t4 last week and an astounding 14 top-10’s around the world over the last year. Rose is sure to be a popular pick, but he’s also a solid addition since he’s got a nice history here and appears to be peaking at the right time to successfully defend his title.
Matt Kuchar: Kuchar comes off his Match Play Championship win with three top 10’s already on tour this season. He’ll be a regular pick here since he’s one of my favorite options due to his consistently steady play and tendency to be in the top ten in almost every tournament. Last year he was tied for eighth in the Cadillac giving him three top ten’s in three appearances.
Luke Donald: Donald is coming off of back-t0-back tied for sixth finishes at this event and finished t16 in his only PGA Tour stroke play even this season. He’s shown he has the game for the course and has been faring well internationally. I think he has a great shot to win this one.
Nick Watney: Watney has a great history at this event, but his recent form gives me enough pause to start him on my bench as my under-the-radar pick. Watney won this event two years ago and finished solo second in 2009. Last year he had a rough second round but finished with a closing 67 to get to a t17. Two weeks ago at the Match Play event he won his first round match over David Toms and pushed Steve Stricker to extra holes before losing in the second round. He does have one top-5 finish on tour this season with a t4 at the Farmers but missed the cut at Pebble Beach which has left him largely un-heralded as a fantasy option in this event. That fact only means if he assaults the leaderboard, his owners will be getting points others won’t be. It’s a risky pick, but with a no-cut event it’s the perfect time to take a flier like Watney.
Charl Schwartzel: The South African is as steady as they come in stroke play events with a pair of top ten’s on tour in two stroke play starts including a t9 last week. Worldwide, he’s been in the top ten in his last eight events. When you add that form to his career numbers at the Blue Monster, you can’t afford to not have him this week. Schwartzel was t4 last year and runner-up three years ago sandwiched around a t24 in 2011. I know almost everyone will probably have him but maybe some entries will want to move on since he hasn’t won even though he’s been widely rostered. Don’t move on, stick with Schwartzel for another week.
Ian Poulter: Poulter won the WGC-HSBC Champions event last November in Shanghai and finished fourth in the WGC Match Play event two weeks ago. Last year he struggled to a t60, but he does have a pair of top 16’s in his career here. There are plenty of more popular options, but I think Poulter is a nice sleeper pick here given his recent re-focusing on WGC events and his good showing recently in them.