Take Ogilvy over Tiger at Doral

March, 9, 2009

This week on the PGA Tour brings the second of three World Championship Golf events, with the CA Championship at Doral. It also brings the second 2009 appearance of the world's No. 1-ranked player, Tiger Woods.

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Although Tiger is the favorite to win this tourney, he'll face a world-class field of 79 other players. The most notable competitor is defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, coming off his win two weeks ago at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. This week, the stats blog looks at why Ogilvy deserves to be mentioned immediately after Woods and how these two took it to the field at Doral the past two years.

The WGC-CA event was a traveling tournament until 2007, when it took over for the regular tour stop at Doral. How has Tiger fared at this event and at the Blue Monster?

• Six wins in the nine WGC-CA Championship events (1999, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007). Woods' earnings for these events total $7.598 million.

• Those wins have come on six different courses, in Ireland, England, Spain, California, Georgia and Florida.

• The three years in which Tiger has not won the event, he has finished fifth, T-5 and ninth.

• In all, Tiger has won at Doral three times in six appearances. The other three finishes were all top-10s, including second-, fifth- and ninth-place finishes. He is 89 under par in these six starts, averaging nearly 15 under.

Though it is impossible to compete with this record, Ogilvy has proved he can at least compete this week. The Aussie's recent showings prove that point:

• Ogilvy will try to join Tiger as the only players to win back-to-back WGC events after his victory at the WGC-Match Play two weeks ago. Ogilvy and Tiger are the only two players to win the event more than once; Tiger has done it three times.

• Of Ogilvy's six PGA Tour victories, three are WGC events. He's second on the list, behind Tiger and his 15 WGC titles.

• Ogilvy is the PGA Tour's leading money winner at $2.67 million, FedEx Cup leader at 1,176 points and Road to Dubai leader at 1.543 million euros.

• Ogilvy has gained more points in the world rankings than anyone this season. He has moved into fourth place, up from 12th to begin 2009.

• Ogilvy has two fantastic finishes at the WGC-CA since it moved to Doral: T-3 and a win last year.

How have Ogilvy and Woods gotten it done the past two years at Doral? It's all about greens in regulation.

We are the champions

GIR rank Putting < 10 feet rank Scrambling rank GIR pct. Putting < 10 feet pct. Scrambling pct.
Woods -- 2007 1 70 36 75.00 81.70 61.1
Ogilvy -- 2008 1 T-2 1 76.39 95.3 94.1
• More PGA Tour statistics

These are some staggering similarities and differences for two champs on the same golf course. Though both hit greens at an elite clip, Ogilvy got up and down almost without exception, whereas Tiger didn't.

Their scrambling can be summed up by the scorecard: Ogilvy made only a single bogey in his victory, while Tiger made eight. In 2007, Ogilvy started with 60 consecutive holes without a bogey, and hole No. 61 was his only blemish for the entire event. For the week, he sank all 52 of his putts from 5 feet and in.

Looking deeper, the biggest overall difference from 2007 to 2008 had nothing to do with the champions; instead, it was the course. In fact, there was a seven-shot difference in the winning score -- Ogilvy won at 17 under, Tiger at 10 under. In just a single season, the Blue Course at Doral dropped from the 16th-most difficult course to 40th out of 54. It went from playing a stroke over par in 2007 to playing a stroke under par in 2008.

For the field as a whole, the greatest contributor to the increased difficulty was GIR percentage, as the field averaged 64.06 percent last year compared with 54.9 percent in 2007.

Tangled up in Blue
The Blue Course at Doral, a par-72 that plays to 7,266 yards, often is referred to as the Blue Monster.

It's most famous for its finishing hole, the 467-yard par-4 18th. This beast was the most difficult home hole on the PGA Tour in 2004 and 2007, and was the sixth-most difficult in 2008. It is a very difficult driving hole that usually plays into the wind or into a crosswind.

The wind can play a huge factor in Florida golf at this time of year, especially with Sunday nerves and a world-class field factored into the equation. The closing hole also sports a very long and narrow green that is entirely bordered by water on the left side.

Combining the two years in which the Blue Monster has hosted the WGC-CA Championship, players have birdied the hole only 7 percent of the time, while they have carded bogey or worse more than 40 percent of the time.

Fantasy foursomes
This will be the first real opportunity to use Tiger in your lineups this season. It's pretty hard not to start him, but if you saw Ogilvy win the WGC-Accenture Match Play, no one can argue too much if you start Ogilvy over Woods.

In a field of world-class players like this, you're best off going with the hot hand and the blue chips. This is one of the last times you'll see a field this strong before Augusta, so why not just go thoroughbred across the board?

The starters: Ogilvy, Rory McIlroy, Steve Stricker, Retief Goosen

Next in line: Woods, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Luke Donald

• Stuart Appleby continues his streak this week as the only player to compete in every individual World Golf Championship event since its inception in 1999.

• Six players will make their first start in a WGC event this week: Thomas Aiken, Ken Duke, Garth Mulroy, Bubba Watson, Azuma Yano and last week's champ, Y.E. Yang.

• This week the PGA Tour also hosts the Puerto Rico Open, in which Manuel Villegas, Camilo's brother, will make his first PGA Tour start.

Send comments, suggestions and corrections to Nathan.J.Easler@espn.com.



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