Written by
Mike McAllister
Apr 03 2024
- 6 MIN
Masters 13 LIV players image

MIAMI – Other than actually making a quick trip to Georgia to play a practice round at Augusta National, there is no perfect course to fully prepare for the Masters. But HyFlyers GC Captain Phil Mickelson, who has slipped on three green jackets during his Hall of Fame career, considers the iconic Blue Monster at Trump National Doral to be a pretty good re-creation of what he and 12 other LIV Golf League players will see at next week’s first major of 2024.

“This is a great place to get ready for Augusta,” Mickelson said Wednesday during the ramp-up to Friday’s opening round of LIV Golf Miami. “It gives you an opportunity to get momentum if you play well but also gives you a chance to play every shot you’re going to need into Augusta.”

The 7,701-yard par-72 Blue Monster is hosting a LIV Golf tournament for the third consecutive year. Unlike the first two seasons, when Doral was the site of the season-ending Team Championship in October, it’s now a regular-season stroke-play-only event moved up several months in the calendar.

This week’s LIV Golf tournament is the first time the Blue Monster has held a world-class pro tournament the week directly in front of the Masters. The course first began hosting an annual pro event in 1962, generally in late February/early March, several weeks ahead of the Masters.

“It’s perfect for managing your golf ball. That’s what you have to do at Augusta,” two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson said of Doral, a course in which he’s finished as the runner-up three times.

The RangeGoats GC captain identified a few specific shots on the Blue Monster that are similar to shots he’ll face at Augusta National. One example: The tee shot at Doral’s 245-yard par-3 13th, which is even longer than Augusta’s 240-yard par-3 fourth. Another: The dogleg-left 608-yard par-5 10th that demands a similar shot trail as Augusta’s 545-yard par-5 13th, the hole that completes Amen Corner.

“Obviously, the water’s a little bit bigger here than the creek, but you still want to be aggressive – but at the same time, not too aggressive, especially here because it’s more penalizing here with the wind,” Watson said of the 10th hole. “But if there was no wind, it matches up to 13, especially for someone like me that’s going to play a big cut or slice.”

Beyond specific shots, Doral offers the kind of long, grueling test that the 13 LIV golfers will face at an Augusta National course that plays to 7,555 yards.

“It’s the first big boy golf course we’ve played this year,” said Smash GC Captain Brooks Koepka, who tied for second last year with Phil Mickelson, one stroke behind LIV Golf newcomer Jon Rahm. “… It’s a tough golf course, and you’ve got to be able to ball-strike it here and ball-strike it at Augusta.”

Added Crushers GC Captain Bryson DeChambeau: “It’s a great test of golf. You have to be on your game pretty much every hole out there. It’s kind of a good start, I would say, to get us in the major mindset, just with how difficult the test is.”

Rahm, captain of the expansion Legion XIII team, is playing the Blue Monster for the first time in his career. He’s also playing the week before the Masters for the first time since 2017 when he made his Augusta National debut.

Although he had yet to play a practice round at Doral when he was asked to discuss it Wednesday, he knows the course’s reputation. He hopes it will pay dividends as he seeks to become just the fourth golfer to successfully defend a Masters title.

“I’ve seen this tournament here many times on TV, and I know how much of a challenge it can be,” Rahm said. “I think having a high-quality challenging golf course before a major can be a great thing to get yourself ready.”

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