WGC-Cadillac Championship experts' picks

March, 6, 2012
03/06/12
6:29
AM ET
Each week of the season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories below: 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: the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.

Horse for the Course


Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Luke Donald
Because it's not an overpowering golf course, Donald will thrive on the short holes where short-iron play is a premium. Remember last year when he played Disney so he could win the money title? You think he's giving up world No. 1 without a fight? C'mon, man!!

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Tiger Woods
The 14-time major championship winner claimed titles at Doral three straight years from 2005-07. In 2005, when Tiger beat Phil in an epic duel at what was then the Ford Championship at Doral, he set the tournament record with a 24-under-par 264 total.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Nick Watney
The defending champion is playing the event for just the fourth time, but in addition to his win last year, he was second in 2009.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Matt Kuchar
Two career starts in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, two top-five finishes for Kuchar. In eight career rounds in the event, he's been in red numbers every time.


Birdie Buster


Michael Collins: Tiger Woods
No more excuses for the greens. He's knows these like the back of his hand. But this week will be like many others … one bad ball-striking day when the putter doesn't save him. Won't keep him out of the top five, though.

Farrell Evans: Lee Westwood
The 38-year-old Englishman has back-to-back fourth-place finishes in his last two starts in the U.S. His 63 on Sunday at Honda was the second-best round of the day after Tiger's 62.

Bob Harig: Rory McIlroy
He's coming off a victory at the Honda Classic, which followed up a runner-up finish at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, which followed up a run of golf heading back to August that has seen him finish outside of the top five just once. And that was 11th. Rory's been on a roll -- and might need to keep it going to retain his No. 1 ranking.

Kevin Maguire: Luke Donald
To say Donald has started 2012 slowly -- a T-56 at Riviera and a first-round loss at the Match Play -- would be quite the understatement for the now-former No. 1 player in the world. But after getting knocked off the top spot last week, Donald heads to Doral with renewed focus on becoming No. 1 again.


Super Sleeper


Michael Collins: Bubba Watson
Strange to make Watson a sleeper, but he didn't play last year so in my book that qualifies him. He is one of the three golfers in the field who can "overpower" this golf course. He took last week off so he's coming in fresh.

Farrell Evans: Rickie Fowler
The tour's king of loud-colored clothes had his best finish of the season last week at Honda with a tie for seventh. Last year at the Blue Monster he shot a 66 in the final round for an eighth-place finish.

Bob Harig: Paul Casey
The Englishman is set to make his 2012 debut after a snowboarding accident in December led to a shoulder injury. Casey was poised to do good things this year, and the injury was a big setback. It's tough to envision him doing much this week, but at least he has a four-round, no-cut tournament to work out some of the issues.

Kevin Maguire: Rickie Fowler
With only 74 players in the field, sleepers are hard to come by. But Fowler's game this year is finally rounding into form after his first top-10 of the season at the Honda Classic, including a Sunday 66.


Winner


Michael Collins: Nick Watney
Until now, only one guy had ever defended his championship, and he's on this list. Watney hasn't missed a cut in his six starts so far this year and his game is starting to come back around at the right time. Finishes in the event for Nick -- second in 2009, 26th in 2010, first last year -- are impressive. Don't let his soft-spoken nature fool you; on the course he's a killer.

Farrell Evans: Phil Mickelson
After a two-week break, Lefty is rested and ready to take on the likes of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. After McIlroy's spectacular last couple of weeks, Phil's great play feels like old news, but he'll be up for a good fight at the Blue Monster. In 2009, Phil beat Nick Watney, last year's winner, by a shot to reach a career-best No. 2 in the world.

Bob Harig: Tiger Woods
For the first time all year, Woods is going to play a golf course where he is both comfortable and familiar. You can't really say that about any of the previous venues. This always seemed like the perfect place -- he's won here three times -- for him to win his first PGA Tour event since 2009. And coming off a 62 on Sunday at Honda, he should enter with plenty of confidence.

Kevin Maguire: Lee Westwood
I'm now officially 1-for-9 this year. Okay, so picking Rory McIlroy last week wasn't that huge a stretch, but it's better than an oh-fer. For this week, I'm going with Westy, who's got all the motivation in the world to try to knock his former stablemate McIlroy from that No. 1 perch.

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