Thirty five European Tour Members, led by World Number One Rory McIlroy, will once again aim to tame the aptly-named Blue Monster as the WGC-Cadillac Championship returns for a ninth year to the Trump National Doral.
Twelve months ago, Jamie Donaldson led the European challenge by finishing in a tie for second place behind the winner Patrick Reed – a breakthrough performance in America, which provided a springboard for what would become an unforgettable 2014 campaign for the Welshman.
Later that year, he claimed his third European Tour title in the Czech Republic to seal a debut in The Ryder Cup, where he secured the point that guaranteed victory for Europe.
This year, Donaldson will seek to go one better and capture his first World Golf Championship title, but he will face stiff competition from several members of the European Tour contingent who have also fared well recently at Trump National Doral.
Justin Rose secured his maiden WGC victory there in 2012 before finishing in a tie for eighth place one year later, and he will now bid to emulate those impressive performances when he returns to the recently-renovated 7,481-yard layout.
Rose is coming off the back of a successful 2014 campaign that yielded two victories and 11 top ten finishes on both sides of the Atlantic, and victory this week could lay the platform for another stellar season for the Englishman.
Another man with an impressive Doral record is Rose’s fellow Major Champion Graeme McDowell, who has recorded three top ten finishes in his last five visits to the Blue Monster.
McDowell’s compatriot McIlroy, meanwhile, will return to Miami seeking to extend an incredible recent record on The European Tour, having finished either first or second in his last seven outings on the Tour – with his most recent victory coming in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the start of February.
Moreover, the Ulsterman’s recent record in the WGC-Cadillac Championship will give him even more reason to be cheerful, after recording three top five finishes from his six appearances in the event.
While most eyes will be fixed on the World Number One, one man who could slip under the radar is South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel.
The former Masters Tournament winner finished second in 2010 behind fellow countryman Ernie Els, and has since posted two top ten finishes in the tournament. The Johannesburg native has also found some form at the start of this campaign and will go in search of his first WGC title on the back of two top ten finishes, in South Africa and Abu Dhabi.
England’s Danny Willett, who is teeing it up in the WGC-Cadillac for the first time, will be bidding to extend his lead at the top of The Race to Dubai Rankings.
Willett burst to the summit of the season-long race after claiming the Nedbank Golf Challenge last November, but his lead has been eroded by another man making his debut in Doral, Anirban Lahiri.
With two wins in his last three appearances, Lahiri has moved to within €284,369 of the top spot and, with a mammoth prize fund of US$9.25 million on offer in Miami, the Indian could usurp Willett should he continue his remarkable run of form.
Both Willett and Lahiri will be bidding to repeat the feats of Patrick Reed, whose victory on his debut last year announced his arrival on the world stage.
With one victory to his name already this year, the American – who took up European Tour membership at the start of the season – will fancy his chances of becoming only the second player after Tiger Woods to retain the trophy.
Other notable names in the elite 74 man field include Lee Westwood, who will make history by becoming the first player to reach 50 appearances in a WGC event.
Westwood has featured 14 times in the WGC–Match Play Championship, 13 times in the WGC–Cadillac Championship, 16 times in the WGC–Bridgestone Invitational and six times in the WGC – HSBC Champions.
His best performance in the WGC-Cadillac Championship came in 2000, when he finished runner-up behind Mike Weir at Club de Golf Valderrama.
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