Doral an important stop in pursuit of Masters invite

DORAL, Fla. — With each week, the Masters Tournament gets closer.

Only a dozen players in the 65-man Cadillac Championship field, which begins today at Doral, are not yet in the Masters, so it’s an important week for the likes of Geoff Ogilvy, Fredrik Jacobson, Richard Sterne and Augusta native Charles Howell, all of whom are trying to establish themselves in the top 50 when the final cutoff arrives at the end of the month.

Another example of the Masters on the horizon was Phil Mickelson, who made a detour to Augusta on Tuesday to play with Keegan Bradley.

Mickelson was dominant when he won the Phoenix Open, though he didn’t contend his next two weeks at Pebble Beach and Riviera, and then he took the last two weeks off.

“The first week I didn’t touch a club and this last week I’ve been practicing pretty hard,” Mickelson said. “And I’ve had some good rounds and I’m optimistic, but you just never know until you get in competition, and today at Doral, this is playing as tough as I’ve seen this golf course play. The rough is thicker and denser than I’ve seen – and longer – and it’s going to have a premium on getting the ball in the fairway.”

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, is trying to end a drought in these World Golf Championships.

He has won 16 of them, but none since Firestone in late summer of 2009. His game has been all over the place – missed cut, win, middle-of-the-pack – but Doral is familiar turf.

“I’ve liked the venue. I like being here, and this course and this tournament have been good to me over the years,” he said.

He might not recognize the course much longer. Donald Trump bought the resort last year and will start tearing it up on Monday after the tournament is over, adding length and more water features in what The Donald describes as a “brand new course.”

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