DORAL, Fla. (AP) – Donald Trump last year signed a contract to buy the Doral Golf Resort, and he hired respected architect Gil Hanse to renovate the Blue Monster course that hosts the Cadillac Championship. But on Tuesday, the new owner made it sound as though the course was going through more than just a renovation.
“They are saying that the course is in the best shape in 25 years. It's a little ironic, because we blow it up on Monday,'' Trump said.
Work on the Blue Monster begins after this World Golf Championship is over. Trump said it would be a “brand new, incredible course.''
“We started as a renovation,'' Trump said of the course originally designed by Dick Wilson. “And as we got more and more into it, Gil and I started to say, `Wow, we are really making it a much bigger and I think much more magnificent course. … We are really doing massive changes.''
He said the first hole, which now is 529 yards as a par 5 and traditionally the easiest at Doral, would be extended 100 yards with a lake to the right of the green. The plan is to turn the par-3 15th hole into an island green, and his biggest change would be at the turn.
Trump said the green on the par-3 ninth would be moved to the right along the water that guards the 18th green. That would allow the tee on the par-5 10th hole to move farther to the left so that the tee shot is over water.
“What it does is it creates an incredible amphitheater for No. 18, No. 9, and even the tee shot on the 10th hole, which is now over the water,'' he said.
Ernie Els finally interrupted him.
“Where will the fairway be? It's just water,'' Els said with a laugh.
Hanse, also chosen to build the Olympic golf course in Rio de Janeiro, had said last year he would try to keep the intentions of Wilson's original design, though he said it would not be accurate to call his work a “restoration'' because of significant changes to some of the holes.
Trump said because workers will put 6 inches of “pure, good soil'' on the fairways, the original dirt will be used to create mounds for better viewing.
“One thing I've heard is that by being flat, it's a little bit hard for the spectators to see you guys play golf,'' Trump said. “So we are creating these tremendous slopes and mounds and the rough, and I think it will be really good for the players. It will look beautiful, but it will also be very good from a practical standpoint. People will be able to stand up on these hills and see what's going on in the fairway.
“I think it's going to be a really great tribute to golf, and we are going to basically be building a brand new course.''
Justin Rose, the defending champion, doesn't seem to mind. Besides, Trump said he would leave the 18th hole alone.
“By all accounts that 18th hole will not change significantly, which I think is a good thing because you still want to be able to come to Doral and recognize it as Doral,'' he said. “But it needs to maybe get back to living up to its reputation as the Blue Monster. It's been fairly low scoring here the last few years, and I think a revamp is going to certainly do it some good.''
WGC SLUMP: Tiger Woods has gone 14 major championships without winning, dating to his playoff win in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
Perhaps more surprising is how long he has gone without a World Golf Championship.
No one was more dominant than Woods in these world championships. He won 15 of the first 27 events that were played (he missed the Match Play in Australia, so his winning rate at one point was 58 percent). When he won at Firestone for a record seventh time in 2009, he had won 16 out of 30.
Since then, however, Woods has gone 10 WGCs without winning.
Woods hasn't advanced out of the second round of Match Play since he last won in 2008. He tied for 10th at Doral in 2011 and withdrew in the final round last year. He has only one top-10 finish at Firestone in the last three years. And he tied for sixth in his two appearances at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
OGILVY SPARK: Geoff Ogilvy never thought he would use a sports psychologist, though he enjoyed casual conversations with Bob Rotella and a few others. But he decided to hire Julie Elion about a month ago on what he described as a “neighborly recommendation.''
Ogilvy is neighbors in Scottsdale, Ariz., with Jim “Bones'' Mackay, who came to know Elion when she worked with Phil Mickelson.
“I just realized this was a good thing for me – obviously it's been a good thing for me,'' Ogilvy said.
They first met at the Phoenix Open, and after he missed four straight cuts on the West Coast, the former U.S. Open champion delivered a clutch performance in the Honda Classic with four rounds at par or better to finish second. It moved him up 32 spots in the world ranking to No. 47, getting him into Doral and boosting his odds of staying in the top 50 at the end of the month to get into the Masters.
Ogilvy said he's fine Thursday through Sunday, but it was Monday through Wednesday where he had a “history of messing my game up in practice.''
The move came with one endorsement.
“Bussy (caddie Matthew Tritton) says I'm in a better place on the golf course,'' Ogilvy said.
BACK ON THE BAG: Steve Stricker's wife caddied for him when he first joined the PGA Tour nearly 20 years ago, even though some players told him he should consider hiring a professional caddie. He won twice in 1996 to show otherwise.
Nicki Stricker mostly stays at home these days raising their two daughters in Wisconsin, but they started a few years ago picking one tournament a year for her to caddie. With his limited schedule this year, they chose the Cadillac Championship.
“We like to do it once a year,'' Stricker said. “She did it last year at The Greenbrier.''
Nicki Stricker was asked if she was a good caddie, and she looked over at her husband.
“What do they say about caddies? Keep up, show up and shut up?'' she said. “So yeah, I'm a good caddie.''
DIVOTS: Donald Trump is helping in a big way with the “Els for Autism'' national golf tournament. Six of the tournaments will be played at Trump-owned courses. “He's giving us one hell of a break,'' Ernie Els said. “This is going to really help us. We have made $4 million the last two years, and with his help, we could be setting the next year with $7 million. That's how big this is.'' … EverBank has signed on as a presenting sponsor for the Tampa Bay Championship next week. The tournament at Innisbrook is still trying to land a title sponsor. … Michelle McGann is not done with golf just yet. She plans to try to qualify for the Founders Cup next week in Phoenix when the LPGA Tour begins the domestic portion of its schedule. … The U.S. Senior Open has extended its exemptions to the top six on the European Senior Tour money list, meaning Paul Wesselingh and Chris Williams will get in the field at Omaha (Neb.) Country Club this summer.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Fifteen players have won the last 15 official events on the PGA Tour schedule dating to Rory McIlroy's win in the BMW Championship.
FINAL WORD: “When little brother beats up on big brother on a regular basis, the roles start to reverse. I'd feel out of place giving Rory advice.'' – Graeme McDowell, on his relationship with Rory McIlroy.