A "monster by name but not by nature" is how I've described the Trump National Doral 'Blue Monster' track in the past but after it was almost unrecognisable 12 months ago following extensive renovations and course redesign overseen by Donald Trump and Gil Hanse, this isn't the case anymore.
Throw in some fierce wind conditions and the 2014 renewal was indeed a beast and more a case of last man standing. Patrick Reed won with one of the highest scores relative to par in a recent non major event. After picking up his third PGA Tour victory here, Reed - 26.00 - made his infamous "I'm a top five player in the world" comments but just 12 months on and with another win added to his CV in the mean time, Reed is getting closer to his goal, lying 15th spot in the official world golf rankings.
Actual world number one Rory McIlroy was blown off the PGA National course last week on his PGA Tour season bow and he'll be looking to bounce back strongly, leading the market at around 7.50. A man making his first appearance of the year this week after becoming a father is Adam Scott and those who give credence to the 'Nappy Factor' theory may feel there's a large glass of juice in a quote of 26.00 on a course that plays to all Adam's strengths.
The course - Trump National Doral (Blue Monster)
Playing an increased yardage over 7,500, Doral is now officially one of the top five lengthiest courses on the PGA Tour. Emphasis after the changes has arguably shifted from performance on and around the greens to tee to green play. Fairways and greens proved very tough to hit in 2014 although strong winds added to the challenge but with surfaces reshaped incorporating run-offs blending into refurbished bunkering in places, holding the deceptively larger greens is key. Water is prominent throughout for the erratic and contouring fairways have to be played wisely to achieve optimum approach angle to attack these pins and shape it correctly from the landing areas. A combination of driving accuracy, distance and positioning will be important but finding the right part of the green will prove pivotal.
Three From the pack
Keegan Bradley - 50.00 or 10.00 - has been simmering so far in 2015 and I'll ignore his missed cut at the Honda due to the severe winds which blew a number of the big names out of the event. Keegan had been in the top 20 for ball striking in his two events prior to the Honda Classic and he's best known for his long, straight and high trajectory driving of the golf ball. The American rallied after a poor start at Riviera to post a top 5 and he owns two top 10s in last three years at Doral.
I said last year that Hunter Mahan - 67.00 or 13.00 - is another who could be excited about the course changes at Doral and the American notched a top 10 in the end. A ball striking supremo ranking 18th in total driving and 27th in the ball striking department already in 2015 despite a slow start, Hunter managed to break the top 20 last time out at Riviera after leaving himself with it all to do, opening with a 75. Not many shot a better total from Friday through to Sunday at the Northern Trust and Hunter could prove a big price if he continues where he left off.
I'm going to stick with Lee Westwood this week at 67.00 the win or 13.00 the place. Lee has been in excellent form over the back end of 2014 and the start of 2015 with a T25 at the Honda last week his worst finish over that period. Lee came close to another victory in Malaysia a few weeks back on the European Tour and then flew home to Palm Beach Gardens to get ready for the Honda. It took him a while to dust off some rust but a closing round of 66 combined with Lee's sound tee to green game makes me think he's overpriced at Trump National.
Last year it was Jamie Donaldson and there's often a European Tour regular that comes out and challenges in these WGC events on the other side of the pond. I have an inkling that this week it may be Joost Luiten - 101.0 or 18.00. The Dutch birdie machine actually posted a top 15 finish himself here last year and is no stranger to popping up on big event leaderboards in the US. You may recall Luiten's fast start at the PGA Championships at Kiawah Island 2012 where he was -8 through just 14 holes and eventually recorded a top 25. Joost had his best finish on American soil at the Honda last week finishing 67-69 for a T11. Confidence is growing.
READ: More from Bryan Nicholson