The all-star fields at World Golf Championships beget early round threesomes as fan favorite-packed as your iPod. That said, the thickest crowds Thursday at the WGC-Cadillac Championship should be at the 10th tee at 11:11 a.m., 11:22 a.m., 11:33 a.m and 11:44 a.m.
That first tee time launches the threesome with five-time major winner Phil Mickelson and 2010 U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell. At 11:22, the threesome with Hideki Matsuyama, the highest-ranking player from golf-crazy Japan, and defending Cadillac champion Patrick Reed takes its first official swings. Following them are world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, No. 2 Bubba Watson and No. 3 Henrik Stenson.
What fans follow them down the par-5 10th as they set off after their tee shots largely will be replaced by those for the 11:44 group — Sergio Garcia, 21-year-old Texan Jordan Spieth and 2012 Cadillac winner Justin Rose.
By the way, those trios go off Friday afternoon from No. 1 at 12:17, 12:28, 12:39 and 12:50, respectively.
The groupings come straight from the Official World Golf Ranking so there’s going to be a 1-2-3 threesome each year. That doesn’t always guarantee a super team threesome bringing together massive galleries, such as 2011, when No. 6 Mickelson and No. 4 McDowell played the first two rounds with No. 5 Tiger Woods.
It also guarantees nothing as far as relevancy — that group failed miserably, shedding fans by the end of Friday. The same could happen this week, although Mickelson came off his even-par 280, (tied for 17th) at the Honda Classic feeling better about his game.
“It was a good week for me. You have to look at it as baby steps,” he said Monday. “I haven’t played well in quite some time. Getting to 5-under, getting in contention was a fun start to the final round. I need to use this as a stepping-stone to go into Doral. After two missed cuts, I needed to get a good, solid tournament, which I did. I would’ve liked a better final round [3-over 73], but it didn’t feel like it was that bad. In fact, it was probably the best ball-striking round of the week.”
EARNING HIS WAY
England’s Paul Casey, playing the PGA Tour exclusively this year instead of hopping between the PGA and European tours, played his way into the Cadillac Championship with a second place in the Northern Trust Open followed by a tie for third in the Honda Classic.
CHANGING HIS MIND
James Hahn’s win at the Northern Trust Open two Sundays ago put him in the field for the Cadillac Championship. What happened this past Sunday – the birth of his first child, a girl — spurred his Tuesday withdrawal announcement via Twitter.
Hahn Tweeted “Decided to WD from Doral. There’s no place I’d rather be than here. I need her more than she needs me.”
If you go
Where: Trump National Doral, 400 NW 87th Ave., Doral.
Course: The Blue Monster, 7,258 yards, Par 72.
Format: 72-hole stroke play with no cut.
The field: 74 players, including the top 50 in the world.
Purse: $9,250,000 ($1,570,000 to the winner).
FedEx points: 550 to the winner.
TV: Thursday-Friday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Golf Channel; Saturday, noon to 3 p.m. Golf Channel; 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. NBC. Sunday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Golf Channel; 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. NBC.
Defending champion: Patrick Reed
Parking: General parking is at JC Bermudez Park at 3000 NW 87th Ave., Doral. Preferred parking is at the same location, but a pass is required.
Tickets: Go to www.cadillacchampionship.com for information. Daily grounds passes start at $40 for Thursday, $50 for Friday, and $60 for Saturday or Sunday. Patrons 18 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult.