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How will the newly revamped Blue Monster — now Trump National Doral — fare? 

The 1961 creation of Dick Wilson has been updated by the talented Gil Hanse, architect for the 2016 Summer Olympics site in Brazil. New owner Donald Trump provided a hefty $13 million budget to handle the enormous task Hanse faced since the 2013 event.

The former Blue Monster was more fable than fact. Unless serious wind was blowing the best players were often fully capable in sustaining serious low scores.

Hanse has seen fit to bring back to life a previously tired layout as overall yardage for the par-72 course now exceeds 7,500 yards with extensive changes to the 1st, 8th, 9th, 15th and 16th holes.

Drainage has improved — bunkers given more of a classical look than the circular pits previously there. The underbrush has been tidied up and the overall vistas of the course enhanced for galleries to see more of the action. You can even play the course — just pony up $399 for resort guests and $450 for outside play — plus the cost of a forecaddie. No one said a Trump course would be a small ticket item.

 

The storied 18th remains unchanged.

Among the 15 toughest holes from last year’s tour stats.  A few palm trees have been added to the drive zone but when played into a prevailing southerly wind — the closer is anything but a certain thing. In sum — no lead is ever safe.

 

Will Tiger Finally be in the Hunt ? 

A WD from final round of last week’s Honda event because of back spasms showed cause for worry. After a few days of intense treatment the 14-time major winner is set to go — teeing it in the first round with world #2 Adam Scott and #3 Henrik Stenson. Keep in mind, Tiger has never won the Masters without having had at least one PGA Tour win going into Augusta. Still the issues remain — his health and overall lack of competitiveness. Both need to be answered.  If Scott wins the event and Tiger finishes 7th or worse — the Aussie takes the world #1 position. Wake-up call indeed.

 

The Donald’s ascension. 

No person in golf elicits the range of comments as Donald Trump. To his considerable credit Trump has made a major move in the golf industry with a range of courses he has built in the USA and even internationally. A future US Women’s Open is set for his flagship facility in NJ in 2017 and Trump is clearly setting his sites on a future major championship. This week’s event at Doral signals The Donald is clearly invested in golf — for the long run and at the highest levels.

 

Golf’s generational movement at-hand.

Last week’s Honda playoff win by Russell Henley and the win by Jason Day the week prior at the Accenture Match-Play is a clear indicator that a strong youth movement — those under age 30 — is already underway on the PGA Tour. So much of the focus remains rightly on Tiger Woods and even Phil Mickelson. However, aspiring players do not quake in their boots against the aging superstars of yesteryear. Do the old lions still have claws — are the roars still strong?  This week’s event will clearly show if a new trend is at-hand or if the past is still very much alive in Miami.

WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?