Experts' Picks, Doral Edition

March, 9, 2011
03/09/11
9:09
AM ET

Each week in the PGA Tour season, our panel of experts will share their insight into which players fit the criteria for our four categories below: Birdie Buster, Horse for the Course, Super Sleeper and Winner.

This week's tournament: The WGC-Cadillac Championship at TPC Blue Monster.

Want another opinion? Check out ESPN.com's FOREcaster page.

ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig

Horse for the Course: Tiger Woods
He won the last two full-field events at Doral in 2005 and 2006, then captured the first WGC event played on the Blue Monster in 2007. He followed up with top-10 finishes the next two years and even had a runner-up to Ernie Els at Doral in 2002.

Birdie Buster: Rory Sabbatini
Nobody was better than the South African last week at the Honda, where he shot a second-round 64 on a day when the scoring average was 8 strokes higher. The 1-stroke victory was the sixth of his career.

Super Sleeper: Peter Senior
The Australian earned his way into the field by virtue of his second-place finish on the Australasian Tour's money list. Exempt on the Champions Tour, at age 51, Senior is the oldest player to compete in this tournament and the second-oldest in a WGC event.

Winner: Justin Rose
There is not much of a track record for Rose at Doral, but this has been an odd year, with plenty of surprise winners. Rose makes it 2-for-2 among Englishmen this year in the WGCs.


ESPN.com senior golf editor Kevin Maguire

Horse for the Course: Tiger Woods
No matter where the WGC-Cadillac Championship has been played, Tiger Woods owns it with six victories in 10 appearances.

Birdie Buster: Charl Schwartzel
One of only four players to break par in three different rounds at the Honda Classic, Schwartzel proved why he's fourth on the European Tour money list. His "worst" finish of the 2011 season? That would be a T-17 at the WGC-Match Play. Oh, and he finished second last year at Doral.

Super Sleeper: Nick Watney
Hard to pick a sleeper when the field goes only 69 deep for a no-cut WGC tournament, but Watney at No. 31 in the world owns a second-place finish at Doral back in 2009 and is second on the PGA Tour in final-round scoring average.

Winner: Graeme McDowell
At the beginning of the season I felt McDowell was traveling too much and he'd eventually hit the proverbial wall. He still very well might, but coming off a course-record-tying 64 in the final round at PGA National for a T-6 finish, expect the Northern Irishman to notch his first victory of 2011 this week in the WGC.


ESPN.com golf writer and blogger Jason Sobel

Horse for the Course: Geoff Ogilvy
After challenging for the title in 2007 (he finished T-3) and winning in '08, the Aussie has endured two straight disappointing performances at Doral, failing to finish better than 40th. He's an all-or-nothing type of player, though. If he's on this week, he'll be able to draw on good memories at this course.

Birdie Buster: Charl Schwartzel
One year ago, he finished second to Ernie Els, securing his PGA Tour playing privileges for this season. It's only a matter of time before this underrated talent starts getting the credit he deserves; in seven worldwide starts this year, he has yet to finish outside the top 17.

Super Sleeper: Hiroyuki Fujita
In a 69-man field, there aren't many players even eligible for the "sleeper" category, but Fujita fits the bill. He recently posted weekend scores of 69-67 to finish T-10 at the Honda Classic -- his best result in 10 career professional starts in the United States.

Winner: Nick Watney
Runner-up to Phil Mickelson two years ago when his final-hole birdie bid just barely stayed out, Watney is enjoying a brilliant season so far, with finishes of ninth or better in each of his first four appearances. All that's missing is a third career win, but it's coming soon -- as in Sunday.


ESPN.com senior national columnist Gene Wojciechowski

Horse for the Course: Tiger Woods
Woods adores the Blue Monster and has won this event six times. One problem: The last win was in 2007. Still …

Birdie Buster: Graeme McDowell
All McDowell did during the final round of Sunday's Honda Classic just up the road in Palm Beach Gardens was post a nifty 64. McDowell doesn't get freaked by tough tracks.

Super Sleeper: Ernie Els
Els was only 25 shots off the lead last week at the Honda. But he's the defending champ and says that a Monday practice round with Lee Westwood has him feeling good about his chances to turn things around.

Winner: Martin Kaymer
He took some time off to recharge his Germinator batteries and has handled his ascension to No. 1 with grace, humor and humility. He'll be ready.

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