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Tuesday, March 5, 2013
WGC-Cadillac experts' picks


Each week of the season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week's tournament: WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral Golf Resort in Doral, Fla.


Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Nick Watney

Two years after suffering a heartbreaking loss to Phil Mickelson, Watney got a WGC win of his own at Doral. He finished 17th last year as the defending champ. That's four times teeing it up with a win, runner-up and top-20. Sounds like a solid horse to me.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Tiger Woods

Tiger practically owns this category for all regular tour events that he's played over the years. He won on the Blue Monster three consecutive years from 2005 to 2007.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Matt Kuchar

The winner of the WGC-Accenture Match Play comes to a place where he's had a nice run of late. In each of the past three years, he's finished among the top 10, including a tie for eighth last year.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Jim Furyk

In the past six years, Furyk has three top-four finishes at Doral. As for this season, while he hasn't finished inside the top-10 yet, he also hasn't been south of T-30, either.


Birdie Buster

Michael Collins: Luke Donald

You might think a tie for 16th in L.A. followed by an exit in the third round of match play would be a bad start to the yaer for the former World No. 1. Oh, how wrong you'd be. Last year he started the year with a 56th-place finish in L.A. followed by a second-round loss in Match Play, then he finished sixth at the Cadillac, so he's ahead of his schedule from last year.

Farrell Evans: Charles Howell III

But for a 78 in the final round at Honda, Howell would have likely notched his fourth top 10 of the year. Still, the 33-year-old Augusta native is one of the hottest players on tour right now.

Bob Harig: Michael Thompson

He comes to his first World Golf Club Championship event on a big high, having won the Honda Classic for his first PGA Tour title on Sunday. That win got him into Doral.

Kevin Maguire: Geoff Ogilvy

The 2008 winner at Doral is fresh off a second-place finish at the Honda Classic with a chance to keep himself firmly inside the top 50 in the world for that Masters invite in a month's time.


Super Sleeper

Michael Collins: Peter Hanson

This is one of the talented European Tour golfers who gets lost in the shuffle when he plays over here because we just don't see him enough. Last year he held the 54-hole lead at the Masters and finished third. He also finished seventh at the PGA Championship. If he ever decides to play over here full time, watch out!

Farrell Evans: Russell Henley

This 23-year-old rookie is making his first appearance at Doral. But with a win already at Sony, and strong showings in the Match Play and Honda, the former University of Georgia star is giving some convincing signs that he will have a long and productive career on the PGA Tour.

Bob Harig: David Lynn

The Englishman was second at last year's PGA Championship and just finished fourth at the Honda, his second-best result in a PGA Tour event.

Kevin Maguire: David Lynn

The Englishman is a member of the PGA Tour this year only because of his runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy at last year's PGA Championship, but he did go 68-69 last weekend at the Honda Classic amid tough conditions to finish T-4 last week.


Winner

Michael Collins: Phil Mickelson

Phil talked about his driving in Phoenix but it was his 87.5 percent Greens in Regulation that really propelled him to a win. His short-game mettle will be tested this week when he misses greens, but it's his short-game superiority that will bring him out on top.

Farrell Evans: Matt Kuchar

Last year, the Match Play champion had a tie for eighth at Doral and in 2011 he finished fifth. A top-10 is just about a given for Kuchar, but it's time for him to finally win this prestigious event.

Bob Harig: Phil Mickelson

Lefty has the good vibe from a visit to Augusta National this week, which can't be a bad thing. And he won this event in 2009, the previous time he won more than once in a season.

Kevin Maguire: Bubba Watson

The 2012 Masters champ came up just a shot short to Justin Rose in 2012, but Watson knows how to go low at Doral, evidenced by his 62 in Round 2 a year ago.