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PGA Tour Stats Review: Entering the WGC-Cadillac Championship

Jeremy Schilling

Schilling covers golf for RotoWire, focusing on young and up-and-coming players. He was a finalist for the FSWA's Golf Writer of the Year award. He also contributes to PGA Magazine and hosts the popular podcast "Teeing It Up" on BlogTalkRadio.

This week on the PGA Tour is the second World Golf Championship event of the season, the Cadillac Championship at Doral. And for once we have a tournament where history might mean absolutely nothing.

History Lesson

Tiger Woods is the defending champion, but that may not matter. Donald Trump now owns the property and he brought in Gil Hanse following the 2013 event to renovate - and ultimately remodel and transform - the Blue Monster. So how the course plays and who exactly that fits is yet to be determined.

Who is Playing

The top 50 in the world have committed to play this week. We stress committed because Sunday showed us that Tiger Woods has a back problem, though he said Wednesday he intends to tee it up.

Also an unknown commodity at the moment is Rory McIlroy, who was extremely shaky down the stretch Sunday at the Honda Classic, shooting a 74 and barely making a playoff. How he'll rebound from that collapse may well determine his fantasy fate for this week.

If you are going on recent trends of who is playing well, McIlroy is obviously still a solid pick. But if he has scared you off, consider last week's winner, Russell Henley. He's now won for the second time on the PGA Tour and holed out twice from off the green last week. He finished the event 10th in driving distance and T26 in greens in regulation.

Who Not to Pick

This segment returns this week because one of the tendencies among fantasy owners when picking starters on an untested course is to look at the reigning champions of the last three majors, and as they were forced to adjust quickly to a major championship.

However, none of those players has his game in shape.

Justin Rose has only made two starts in 2014 due to a shoulder injury and withdrew last week. Phil Mickelson missed the cut at the Honda Classic and is 114th in strokes gained-putting and 137th in total driving. And finally the defending PGA Championship winner, Jason Dufner, has been inconsistent in the calendar year, with finishes of T5-T29-T65-T9. He's also 136th in strokes gained-putting and 76th in scoring average. So while these players have a major championship pedigree, avoiding them this week might be the smart choice.

Sunday Surgers

So who should you pick this week? Maybe these Sunday surgers are the answer:

Nick Watney, +48 spots -
Watney's Sunday 67 - tied for the best round of the day - gave him a 48-spot jump and a T24 finish. For the week he was 15th in driving distance and T4 in greens in regulation.

Matteo Manassero, +43 spots -
Manassero also shot a dazzling 67 that moved him up to a T12 finish. For the Honda Classic he ranked T11 in sand saves and T9 in putts per green in regulation.

Sergio Garcia, +34 spots -
Garcia bounced back from that weird concession incident at the Match Play to shoot a final-round 67 that led to a T8 finish and his third top-10 and fourth top-11 finish of the 2013-2014 PGA Tour. He hit just under 71 percent of his greens in regulation last week, ranking him in a tie for sixth in that category.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, +18 spots -
Fernandez-Castano shot a Sunday 69 to move up 18 spots and tie for 28th. But he primarily makes this list because he lives in Miami and played the Blue Monster earlier this month when it re-opened with Trump, giving him an early look at the revamped course. So for that reason - and because he's 51st on the PGA Tour in strokes gained-putting - we recommend him this week.

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