It's funny how storylines can just appear out of thin air. Leading up to the Honda Classic last week, the storyline was the field. Tiger was back, Phil was back, Rory was back, what more could you want? As the week progressed, the lead morphed into Tiger's troubles yet again; he was yet again in danger of missing the cut. Tiger did make the cut, however, and that near-miss was a distant memory after a fantastic round of 65 on Saturday. While Tiger was making a run to the top, the man he was chasing was garnering some attention as well. None other than former No. 1 Rory McIlroy was running away with this thing, and although Tiger appeared to be on an upward tick, there wasn't much of a chance of catching Rory when he was playing so well.
That's where we stood entering Sunday and for those wanting to get a jump on their stories for Sunday night, the Honda Classic appeared to be set up perfectly, and then ... then everything went haywire. Tiger lost his game, just 24 hours after he found it, but that wasn't the story. The story was that Tiger was having back issues again. Poor Rory, he was clobbering the field and no one was paying attention. Who could have known that by the end, he wouldn't want anyone paying attention. In the span of three hours, the headline was written and rewritten three times -- and that didn't even account for the eventual winner, you know, the guy whose name started with an "R."
This week: WGC-Cadillac Championship - Doral C.C. (Blue), Miami
Last Year: Tiger Woods shot a final-round 71 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Steve Stricker.
Players to Consider:
Stricker hasn't played much this year, but as we saw last year, he's capable of playing at a high level even with lengthy breaks. He also has a knack for this venue as he's finished in the top 20 here six consecutive years, including runner-up last year.
We collectively wondered how Rory would recover from a brutal collapse at the Masters a few years back, and we saw how that turned out. A collapse at the Honda Classic is not in the same category, but for a golfer, it has to be disturbing to throw any victory away. I'm guessing he's ready to get back on that horse this week and make the Honda Classic a distant memory.
Definitely concerned about his health and his lack of action heading into this week, but Rose seems to have taken his time getting back into game shape, and I think he'll be ready. He finished T8 here last year and won this event in 2012.
There's something to be said for course knowledge, but on the other hand, there's Jordan Spieth. He's ripped through the courses on the PGA Tour the last 12 months and most of those courses were new to him, so why not Doral?
He doesn't have the track record here, but I dare say he's never been in this kind of form. Day is ready to take his game to the next level, and a win this week would put him in some elite company as a two-time WGC winner.
Players to Avoid:
Tiger's placement on this list obviously has nothing to do with his history here, which is, of course, outstanding. The problem is the back and his status. Even if he tees it up Thursday, will be make it through the entire week? What about his mental state, knowing that he's one bad move away from another issue?
Watney has a win and a runner-up finish on his resume here, but we haven't seen that guy in quite a while. Quite honestly, Watney's been off his game for the better part of two years, and there's no telling when he'll find his top form again.
No injury concerns, but there are some questions about the state of his game entering this week. You also should ask yourself if this is a good spot to use Mickelson. With four majors still on the horizon and Phil coming off a missed cut last week, the answer is no.
This time last year the only thing stopping Snedeker was an injury; 12 months later and there is no injury to blame for his poor play. I'm not sure what the problem is, but until he shows some game, there's no reason to consider him.
Miguel A. Jimenez
Over the year, Jimenez has made a habit out of contending when no one expected him to, but his age appears to be catching up to him and his game is starting to slide. Add to that a less than stellar track record at this event and you have the makings of a tough week for Jimenez.
ONE AND DONE GOLFER
Last week: Graeme McDowell (T46) - $15,600; Season - $1,697,760
This week: Rory McIlroy - Certainly worried about burning Rory too early, but he's in good form and has played well at this event. Besides, I think he's a little ticked about last week and will be out for revenge.
Group A: Luke Donald, Matt Kuchar
Group B: Rory McIlroy, Steve Stricker, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth
Group C: Sergio Garcia, Victor Dubuisson
Last week: Graeme McDowell, made cut; Streak - 2
This week: No cut this week.