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Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Tiger on verge of ending winless drought

By Zach Jones


Ross Kinnaird/Getty ImagesLast year at Doral, Rory McIlroy (left) and Tiger Woods finished tied for 10th at 8-under.
Tiger Woods has made 29 official worldwide starts since his last win (25 on the PGA TOUR), but if his winless drought is going to come to an end, Doral is one of the most likely places for it to happen.

The WGC-Cadillac Championship features the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking -- the first event that has had that rich a field since the 2011 Masters -- but all eyes will be on Woods and the world’s new No. 1 player, Rory McIlroy.

Woods should feel good about his chances of winning on the PGA TOUR for the first time since September 2009. He’s won this event six times and finished in the top 10 in all 11 career starts. The only event he has won more in his career is the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (7). Woods has dominated the World Golf Championships events, winning 16 titles. Geoff Ogilvy (3) is second on the WGC wins list, and is one of only five players with multiple WGC titles.

Woods’ run last week at The Honda Classic was fueled by some much-improved putting. In the third and fourth rounds at the Honda, Woods gained 4.63 strokes to the field just on putting alone. He also made 29 of 32 putts (90.6 percent) inside of 10 feet after making 83.1 percent of such putts in his previous three stroke-play rounds.

From tee to green, Tiger’s game hasn’t been this good in a quite some time. He ranks first on the PGA TOUR in total driving, third in adjusted stroke average and fifth in driving accuracy.

As for McIlroy, he has three wins in his last 12 worldwide events. If he wins this week, then McIlroy would have four PGA TOUR wins at age 22, tying Young Tom Morris and Gene Sarazen for the third-most among players 22 or younger. (Horton Smith holds the record with 14 wins at 22 years of age.)

Although Tiger ranks in the top five in driving accuracy, McIlroy is not nearly as efficient. He's hit 60.7 percent of his fairways, which ranks 72nd on tour. However, his strokes gained per round (1.56) ranks first on the PGA TOUR this season, and his sand-save percent of 77.8 is second only to Lee Westwood.

Don’t forget about Phil Mickelson, who won this event in 2009. Mickelson has struggled with his putter the last few seasons, but seems to have found a rhythm early in 2012. At .914, Mickelson ranks 10th on tour this season in strokes gained putting per round. From 2009-11, Mickelson ranked between 130th and 134th.