The Duel at Doral at 50

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18th hole, a.k.a. The Blue Monster, at DoralHappy anniversary.

The year 2011 marks 50 consecutive years that the PGA Tour event, The WGC-Cadillac Championship (The WGC is one of three World Golf Championships sanctioned and organized by the International Federation of PGA Tours in 1999), will be played at the famed TPC Blue Monster at Doral in Miami. 

In an age where high tech golf clubs and golf balls have made the older venues obsolete, the Blue Monster still has teeth that will challenge the top 50 ranked golfers in the world.  I would look for the 18th hole, ranked in the Top 100 Best Golf Holes in the World by Golf Magazine, as the spot where the tournament will be won or lost. This championship is a great prelude to The Masters.

The original design was by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee.  During the design of Beau Chene, I became acquainted with Lee walking center lines through a thick pine and oak forest and seeing him work his artistry. 

Mr. Lee (“call me Joe, Jimmy”) is known as Gentleman Joe” in a book written by Ron Whitten on his 50 years of designing 250 courses and  can best be summed up by Jack Nicklaus: “Joe never in his career designed a bad golf course.” This great humble man passed away in 2003.

I received a phone call this week from Mr. Lee’s wife Virginia to just say hello and see how I am doing, so typical of the class of these fine people.  This championship has a special meaning for me; yes, the history and tradition matter, but most importantly the memory of Joe, my friend.

This course is still a favorite to many in the field this week. Like Lakewood in New Orleans, Doral is also celebrating 50 years and, again like Lakewood, has had eight past champions in the World Golf Hall of Fame – Jack Nicklaus*, Billy Casper*, Lee Trevino*, Raymond Floyd (in 1993 did redesign work on the Blue Monster), Tom Kite, Beb Crenshaw*, Greg Norman and Nick Faldo (*also won at Lakewood).

There are so many underlying stories tied to this championship.  I just have this feeling this will be one for the history books.  This notion is where I came up with the title to my story – Duel at Doral.  I will touch on a few.

* First and second round pairings – I am proud to see the PGA Tour going after the entertainment factor.  Check out these two pairings by world rankings: Martin Kaymer-#1, Lee Westwood-#2, Luke Donald-#3  and the pairing of Graeme McDowell-#4, Tiger Woods-#5, Phil Mickelson-#6. This should make for certain drama as their world rankings will be tested.

* I would call this a large version of the Ryder Cup.  The Europeans are like a shark smelling blood in the water while enjoying the role of once again representing the dominant golfers in the world.  A strong European showing on American soil would send a major statement and increase the thoughts of a Euro star wearing the green jacket at The Masters in a month.

* Tiger Woods – It is like all eyes are on Tiger.  I would call this a duel between Tiger and himself.

This event is an important championship on a legendary course. The answers to many questions will be answered.  I encourage all of you to soak this in and enjoy the best in professional golf, especially the duels.

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