Brutal Doral takes no prisoners
DORAL, Fla. -- The best player in the world is ...?
Uh, this isn't the week to ask. Not after what's happened during the first two rounds of the WGC-Cadillac Championship -- otherwise known as the %@#*&! Wind Tunnel Open.
"It's so difficult, it's laughable," Bubba Watson said. "Easily the toughest [conditions] I've played in the U.S."
"Horrendous -- that's the word for it," Webb Simpson said. "The setup is horrendous."
"You're not going to see a lot of smiling faces," Jim Furyk said.
Friday was a great day to be a flag, a paper airplane or a kite, but it was an awful day to be part of the 68-player field at Trump National Doral.
The scoring average during the second round was 76.0, a full 4 strokes above par. How your foursome of leaders -- Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan -- finished at 1-under is beyond the comprehension of many of the players here.
Simpson, a former U.S. Open winner, shot 80-78. When asked if he wished there was a 36-hole cut for the event, he said, "A little bit.
"I played terrible -- I want to get that out there," Simpson said. "But so much luck comes into play. You're not seeing a true golf performance."
We did see lots of plump numbers on the par-72 Blue Monster, which was given a major combover by owner Donald Trump. The Donald paid big money for the course redesign but got Friday's 30 mph gusts of wind for free.
Those winds, plus greens that were as hard as Trump's nearby helipad, plus a course setup that earned harsh post-round reviews, plus more water than Biscayne Bay, all combined to make shooting par here a near fantasy. Only 14 guys were under par after the first round, only four after the second round.
"We don't want this to happen again," Simpson said of the PGA Tour-produced setup. "It felt like a million years out there."
This is supposed to be a tournament that helps further identify the world's best player, but the conditions (think Dorothy ... Kansas ...Toto), setup (the tees were Chris Berman-back, back, back, back, back) and Lex Luthor-evil greens have screwed up everything.
• Defending champion: Tiger Woods
• Tee times, leaderboard | Experts' picks
• Venue: The Blue Monster Course, par-72, 7,266 yards)
• Location: Doral, Fla.
• TV coverage: Fri., 1-6 p.m. ET, Golf Channel; Sat., noon-2 p.m. ET, Golf Channel, 2-6 p.m. ET, NBC; Sun., 1-3 p.m. ET, Golf Channel, 3-7 p.m. ET
• Payout: A 69-man field with winner taking $1,530,000 of a $9 million purse
• Format: 72-hole stroke play, no cut
• Money leaders | Schedule | Rankings
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How can you judge how well someone is really playing when several of the greens are so slick they could double as water slides? How do you put scores into perspective when you can hit a perfectly wonderful approach shot (Phil Mickelson can tell you all about it) and then watch in disbelief as the ball rolls off the green and into the wet stuff?
The world's No. 1-, 2- and 3-ranked players -- Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson -- are a combined 14-over-par for the tournament. And, despite the ugly numbers, Scott is only 5 shots out of the lead, and Woods and Stenson are only 6 behind.
What a weird day for numbers. Sergio Garcia was a combined minus-1 for 34 holes but 7-over for the remaining two holes.
Watson laid up ... on a par 3. Other times he purposely hit into bunkers rather than try to land it on some of these greens.
Scott had 168 yards left on his second shot to the par-4 seventh hole ... and didn't go for the green. When's the last time he did that?
"Not often, I must say," he said.
Ernie Els, who shot 75-78, said it was a three-club wind at times and that shots could drift 40-50 yards.
In all, 113 balls were drowning victims during the second round. That's a record here. Actually, the number was 114 if you count the ball that a disgusted Mickelson tossed into the water after a double-bogey on the par-4 third hole. He could later be seen sprawled on the grass, cap pulled down over his eyes as he waited for the traffic jam on the No. 4 tee box to unwind.
There was carnage everywhere. Brett Rumford opened his tournament with an 11 on the par-5 10th, finished with an 83, followed it up with a 79 and then contemplated a career in food services.
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PGA champion Jason Dufner, who actually led or had a share of the lead at various parts of the first round, began his second round with a front-nine 40. So did world No. 6 Rory McIlroy. And did I mention that Garcia hit a ball out of a bunker that bounced off the top of a hospitality tent and into a water hazard?
Who's the best player in the game at this exact moment? Got me.
Woods is dealing with a cranky back and needed a 92-foot birdie putt to help salvage his day.
Scott, playing in only his fourth event of the season, said he is clinging to the "dream" of a weekend comeback here at Doral.
Stenson shanked a wedge six shots into the tournament.
The No. 4-ranked Jason Day never hit a shot. He withdrew on Thursday with a bad thumb.
The No. 5-ranked Mickelson often looked like a guy who wanted to be anywhere -- at an Ivanka Trump news conference, a Vijay Singh birthday party, a federal correctional institution -- than here.
This is your 2014 WGC-Cadillac Championship. May the best survivor win.