NEWS

Softer conditions at Doral could make it harder for long hitters

By Steve Waters
Published on

MIAMI -- Bubba Watson said the Blue Monster is not playing firm and fast like last year, and that means more guys in the 66-player field will have a shot at winning the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral.

"The golf course is very difficult," said the long-hitting Watson, who was third here a year ago and finished second in 2012 and 2014. "It's playing softer, so it's playing a lot longer right now.

"Last year it was hard to stop the ball on the greens. And for a big hitter, that makes it easier. We are hitting 9-iron and the other guys are hitting a 7-iron, which comes off lower, so it's harder to stop the ball on these greens with a longer iron.

"This year with it being softer, I think more people are going to have a chance. I think it just favored us last year, big hitters, with the course condition. Course conditions are what make or break a golf course for who is going to win or who is not going to win."

Watson is currently sixth on the PGA Tour in driving distance at 309.5 yards. In an effort to neutralize his length, fairway bunkers at the Blue Monster were moved farther from the tees, so Watson and other big hitters will have to either hit it really far or really straight to avoid the trouble.

Englishman Danny Willett, who is averaging 289 yards per drive on the European Tour, hopes guys like Watson and defending champion Dustin Johnson will have to hit their 3-woods off the tee.

"I think the changes that have been put in place are very good," Willett said. "I think they are trying to take it out of the guys' hands who fly it 310 and put a few more obstacles in their way.

"It still favors the long hitters out here. If you can still carry it over a few [bunkers] and hit it certain distances, you're still going to come in with a lot less."

Nowhere is that more apparent than at the Blue Monster's 18th hole, which is one of the toughest, and most feared, finishing holes in all of golf, especially when the wind is in your face.

"For the guys who don't hit it miles, it just makes it ridiculous," said Willett of the 476-yard, par-4 18th. "We hit a nice-ish drive yesterday and had 207 [yards to the] flag. You're looking at a 4- or 3-iron into a green that's not exactly built for 4- or 3-iron."

This article was written by Steve Waters from Sun Sentinel and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.