PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – His heart was on this week’s Honda Classic, but Sergio Garcia doesn’t deny that he had an eye on next week’s gathering at the famed Doral Golf Resort & Spa.
Oops, make that Trump National Doral, which will get a chance to show off its new look to the world next week when the WGC-Cadillac Championships tees off. With renovations having been completed by Gil Hanse , the TPC Blue Monster is going feel similar in some respects, but so, so different in many other ways.
Just ask Garcia, who has a home in the Miami area and took advantage of a free day this past Monday to play the TPC Blue Monster.
He gave it two thumbs up, too.
“I liked it. I think that it’s more challenging. It feels like they’ve taken down a good amount of trees, except for the right of 18,” said Garcia. “But the rough seems to be a little higher and the fairways are a little tighter.”
Yet Garcia confirms that the biggest change is how Hanse has brought several greens closer to the water, expanded putting surfaces, added tees, and changed some of the angles. “The routing is quite similar but the holes – other than three, four, and 18 – are quite different,” said Garcia.
Two holes that jumped out at Garcia were the par-4 seventh and par-4 14th. At seven, a hole that used to be a driver and wedge for the big boys, “I hit 3-wood and 4-iron and the water was in play,” he said. Fourteen? A pretty innocuous hole used to required a 3-wood and perhaps a 7- or 8-iron, but Garcia in his round there hit 3-wood and 5-iron to a green “where water is now in play because the green goes all the way to the left.”
Garcia offered praise to the way Hanse has provided the ability to alter the looks on any given day.
“There are a hundred more pin positions (on the greens) and there are an awful lot of new tees, so they can move the course around quite a bit.”
Bottom line, said Garcia, who has played at Doral for nine PGA Tour events, the last six as the WGC-Cadillac Championship: “It’s definitely changed, but I think overall when everything settles down, it’s good.”
While Hanse’s primary goal was not to make this a far more demanding course, Garcia feels he has succeeded in making it a tougher challenge. “I don’t think 20 under will win,” said Garcia. “Might be 14 or 15 under, something like that.”