The second of this year’s World Golf Championships begins today at the fabled TPC Blue Monster at Doral Country Club in Miami. It’s the WGC-Cadillac Championship and it comes just two weeks after the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson.
That’s a lot of WGCs in a short amount of time, especially when there are only four of them to begin with. But Tucson comes at the perfect time in the season on the perfect match play course. And Doral is such an institution on the Tour, it’s worthy of its spot as a WGC.
The third is the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational played at Firestone in Akron, Ohio in early August. It’s played the week before the PGA Championship, a logical place for it because everybody will be in the States for that.
The fourth is the WGC-HSBC Champions played in early November at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China. China is a long way to go, but it’s thought to be a burgeoning market for golf and they would hardly be “world” championships if they were all played in the United States.
And to reflect that worldwide reach, the Accenture Match Play was for just the top 64 players in the world, this year won by Hunter Mahan.
Without the constraint of the match play format, the Cadillac Championship field size is expanded to an estimated 75 players. There are 74 players in the field this year and this is the eclectic criteria used to select them:
• The top 50 players, including any players tied for 50th place, from the Official World Golf Ranking (as of February 29, 2012).
• The top 50 players, including any players tied for 50th place, from the Official World Golf Ranking (as of March 5, 2012).
• The top 30 players from the final 2011 FedExCup Points List.
• The top 10 players from the FedExCup Points List in 2011 (as of March 5, 2012).
• The top 20 players from the final 2011 European Tour Order of Merit
• The top 10 players from the European Tour Race to Dubai Standings in 2012 (as of February 29, 2012).
• The top 2 players from the final 2011 Japan Golf Tour Order of Merit.
• The top 2 players from the final 2011 Australasian Tour Order of Merit
• The top 2 players from the final 2011 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.
• The top 2 players from the final 2011 Asian Tour Order of Merit.
And here they are by today’s tee times, but these are the times that most people will be watching:
12:00 — Y.E. Yang, Darren Clarke, Vijay Singh (Yang figures to do the best in this group. He’s a machine in these big events as Tiger found out at the PGA Championship)
12:10 — Justin Rose, Bubba Watson, Mark Wilson (Rose is playing very nicely, Bubba continues his flamboyant shot-making and Wilson already won Humana and beat Westwood for 3rd in Tucson)
12:20 — Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Charl Schwartzel (Johnson looks to be in the limelight in this group, but Schwartzel looked good in Tucson and had a T5 in the Honda.)
12:30 — Martin Kaymer, Steve Stricker, Webb Simpson (Kaymer is the big gun, Stricker is the class and Simpson finished 2nd on last year’s money list.)
12:40 — Tiger Woods, Nick Watney, Sergio Garcia (Ernie says that Tiger is back, so that’s pretty much all anybody will be watching in this great group.)
11:10 — Alvaro Quiros, Kyle Stanley, Gary Woodland (This is the bombers’ group. You definitely need binoculars and a reliable burro to follow them.)
11:20 — Hunter Mahan, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson (Mahan was awesome in knocking off Rory in Tucson, Scott’s just getting going and Phil was pretty awesome himself in winning the three-way playoff in LA.)
11:30 — Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley, K.J. Choi (Bradley continues to shine, so he’ll attract the attention, but Snedeker and Choi are way more than bookends.)
11:40 — Bill Haas, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell (This would be the classy, quiet twosome plus one. And McDowell continues to charm us with his wit, chronic Irish smile and twinkle in his eye.)
11:50 — Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood (The All-Great Britain threesome with Rory having dispatched Westwood in Tucson and Donald trying to get on top of his game.)
12:00 — Rickie Fowler, Ian Poulter, Retief Goosen (And this would be the flamboyant twosome plus one. Goosen is quietly going about finding his game for the new year.)
The broadcast begins on the Golf Channel at 1 PM Eastern and runs until 6 PM. On the weekend, the Golf Channel and NBC share the duties.