World Number Five Justin Rose is bidding to follow in the footsteps of Tiger Woods as he seeks to successfully defend his WGC-Cadillac Championship title this week.
Woods has won six of the 13 editions of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, including the inaugural event in 1999. He later ran up successive victories in 2003 and 2004 and from 2005 to 2007, with his last victory marking the first time the tournament was staged in its current home, Doral Golf Resort & Spa.
In Miami this week, Rose, who warmed up for his title defence with a tied fourth finish in the Honda Classic on the US PGA Tour, has the opportunity to become only the third multiple winner of the WGC-Cadillac Championship after Woods and Ernie Els, who took the title in 2004 and 2010.
Twelve months ago, the Englishman made his World Golf Championship breakthrough when he overhauled Bubba Watson’s three-shot overnight lead with a final round of 70 to prevail by a single stroke, thereby becoming the first European to win the US$8.75million tournament.
It was his first victory on The European Tour for five years, and later that season Rose would, of course, play a starring role in The Ryder Cup before finishing second in The Race to Dubai – his highest finish since winning the Money List in 2007.
The man who pipped him to the top spot, his Ryder Cup team-mate Rory McIlroy, came close to breaking his World Golf Championship duck with a closing round of 67 at Doral last year, but ultimately the World Number One had to be content with a third place finish behind Rose and Watson.
McIlroy and Rose form part of a 34-strong team of European Tour Members in action in Florida, with nine of those making their debuts in the tournament this week.
The debutants are: George Coetzee, one of seven South Africans in the 66-man field; Wales’ Jamie Donaldson; the Scottish duo of Stephen Gallacher and Scott Jamieson, with the latter making his first ever appearance in a WGC event; England’s David Lynn, who finished alongside Rose in a share of fourth place at Palm Beach last week; Italy’s Matteo Manassero who, aged 19, is the youngest player in the field; Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen; Germany’s Marcel Siem; and Englishman Chris Wood.
Other prominent European Tour Members vying for the €1,139,523 first prize include Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, South African Charl Schwartzel and England’s Lee Westwood, all of whom finished in a tie for ninth place at the Honda Classic.
Of that trio, Schwartzel – currently fourth in The Race to Dubai thanks chiefly to his victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship – boasts the most impressive recent record in the tournament, having finished in a tie for fourth place last year and runner-up behind his mentor Els in 2010.
Schwartzel’s compatriot Richard Sterne, making only his third appearance in the event, will be hoping to extend his lead at the top of The Race to Dubai this week.
The South African currently leads Jamieson by €85,184, with another South African, Louis Oosthuizen, in third place on €435,328.