'Dawgs on Tour: "Here's to all that gorgeous thatch down in F-L-A!" Edition (aka WGC Cadillac Championship)

The PGA Tour is in Florida again this week and the local Bermuda grass is known for it's thatch. So the Tour moves down one south Florida county into Dade to play the World Golf Championship - Cadillac Championship at Doral Resort & Spa (now owned by Donald Trump). But with one caveat - some of the Tour goes further southeast to La Isla del Encanto to play the Puerto Rico Open. Why the split? Because the WGC events are only for a select field, are true "invitationals", and are not fully a part of the PGA Tour. For those regular Tour players who don't qualify, the Tour has "opposite field" events such as the Puerto Rico Open where you will see those lower down in the rankings and those with a more journeyman-like quality. Consider the WGC events to be more like All-Star games restricted to those with the most recent high production.

I won't spend much time on the Puerto Rico Open, as I can only find one former UGA golfer in the field. And that would be Ryuji Imada. Though not a brand-name type golfer, Imada played at UGA in the late 90's and has had some success as a pro: he's won one Tour event, has 16 top 10s, and has amassed over $9 million in career earnings. He has also won 2 Tour events (the minor leagues of pro golf) and another $800k there. Not too shabby, eh?

For the Cadillac Championship, we have four former Bulldogs vying for a chance. But first some details. Only 74 players this week, and they are essentially the top 74 in the world rankings. So 4 out of 74 is a nice statement on UGA golf. But 15 of the 74 are major champions so the competition is very tough. Secondly, this course was a regular Tour stop until it started hosting these WGC events, and has had some history. Nicknamed "The Blue Monster" for it's length and difficulty, Tour players had recently used technology and fitness to tame this monster and make it easier. But there's a great par 4 that is driveable off the tee - IF you launch it over a massive tree, cutting the corner and landing it on the green (Tiger and Phil try this regularly). The 18th is a heck of a hole, as a long par 4 with water all down the left side and a tight green - this has also been the site of some dramatic moments. Trump bought the resort a few years ago, pumped in some cash, dug out a crapload more bunkers, but left most of the design intact - the result is a much tougher course and it's living back up to its nickname in the last couple of years. It's a tough South Florida resort course in the truest fashion - palm trees and water everywhere. Third, this tourney has some serious prize money - with only half the number of players as a regular Tour event, it boasts 50% more prize money - $9.5M total and $1.5M to the winner. With no cut to the field, as long as you finish you get $42,000. This is called "the rich get richer".

Now to those you care about (with world ranking and FedEx Cup ranking respectively in parentheses):

Russell Henley (56,36): After a very strong start to the season, he's cooled off a bit but still hasn't missed a cut. I've said it before... he's streaky.

Chris Kirk (22, 48): Very highly ranked and also started out 2015 strong, but has missed the last two cuts (AT&T, Honda). He's already invited to all this season's big tournaments, but a high finish would make a nice statement.

Brendon Todd (51,66): Extremely respectable season so far, and he's mostly trending upwards. In his last 5 starts, he has only one missed cut, two Top 10s, and a T14. Very good game that seems to be rounding into form.

Bubba Watson (2,3): Yeah, those rankings speak volumes, don't they? The highest ranked American in this tournament, and in the world. The 2014 Masters Champion. And the WGC-HSBC Champion. So he's got two majors, an international win, and a WGC win under his belt. Lots to be proud of, and he's living the dream. If you want to know more, check this out.

World #1 Rory McIlroy will try to bounce back from his missed cut last week. Phil Mickelson is also in the field, but we'll see how he's feeling after a Monday finish last week - he even turned down a chance to play a practice round at Augusta National this week, so hopefully he got some rest. After a obscure accusation of steroids, Tiger is still on the bench, but I expect we'll see him in the next two weeks as he preps for The Masters. It's a top notch field and a winner will have to beat stiff competition, so the golf will be good.

The WGC-Cadillac will be on The Golf Channel from 1-6:00 pm ET Thurs/Fri, 12-3:00 pm Sat, and 1-3:00 pm ET Sunday. The main coverage will be on NBC Saturday 3-6:00 pm ET and 3-7:00 pm ET Sunday (or until conclusion). The Puerto Rico Open will be on The Golf Channel during prime time hours Thurs-Sunday. Enjoy the golf, and GO 'DAWGS!!!!!

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