Interest in the WGC Cadillac Championship has inevitably spiked due to Tiger Woods' name being atop the leaderboard entering the weekend. Woods is not the only golfer to be excited about, though.
A whopping five major champions sit inside the top eight, all within five strokes of the 13-under number posted by Woods through 36 holes: Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell and Charl Schwartzel.
Sometimes, log-jammed leaderboards can be frustrating for golf fans if relatively unknown players are heavily involved since it distracts coverage from their favorite players. Thanks to the elite 65-man field at the TPC Blue Monster Course at Doral, that is not the case.
Woods has been the standout, though. ESPN's Justin Ray illustrates just how hot Woods has been amidst one of the best 36-hole starts of his entire career.
Justin Ray @JustinRayGC
Updating this from @EliasSports - Tiger Woods has 17 par-breakers (birdies/eagles) through 2 rounds, his most ever in a @PGATOUR event.2013-3-8 22:38:51
But in 2012, Woods consistently had trouble sealing the deal in high-profile events on the weekend.
It's still too early to tell if that trend will hold true this season, although it certainly didn't in his dominant victory at the Farmers Insurance Open. The advantage Woods has also seems all the more insurmountable given his history at this event in Miami, as documented by the PGA Tour's official Twitter page.
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
Think Tiger Woods likes Doral? 6 wins, 11 career top-10s here. Today he's 6-under in 11 holes, 10/11 GIR, lead by 3 (-12). #bornforthis2013-3-8 21:05:02
As the prior namedrop indicates, however, there will be no shortage of fantastic competition vying for the trophy along with him.
McDowell is closest to Woods and has gone head-to-head with him before with success at Woods' own tournament late in the 2010 season, winning in a playoff at the Chevron World Challenge. That was the same year the Northern Irishman won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach—ironically, the venue where Woods romped to a 15-shot triumph in 2000.
The prospect of a potential Tiger-Phil duel on Sunday is also tantalizing. In fact, Lefty's verified KPMG Twitter account was already hyping up the hypothetical pairing in the middle of Day 2:
KPMG Mickelson @MickelsonHat
Tiger and Phil now by themselves in the lead at -10. RT if you want to see them in the same group this weekend! #ShowDown2013-3-8 20:27:13
What was once considered somewhat of a rivalry hasn't quite materialized between the two stars, as the head-to-head battles have been few and far between.
Mother Nature is also setting up a wonderful conclusion to this tournament. Swirling winds are Doral's only true defense against low scoring, and the forecast indicates that the wind will blow harder through the weekend.
Watson is one of the most creative shot makers in the history of golf and can pile up birdies with the best of them on this relatively short track thanks to his stupendous length. He should fare well navigating the breeze.
Bradley is also extremely explosive but thrives in pristine environments not as affected by weather due to his aggressive style and high ball flight. Still, he has all the talent and current strong form to overcome the Blue Monster.
Finally, Schwartzel is one of the hottest golfers in the world. When he won the Masters in 2011, he birdied the final four holes. He fired a seven-under 65 on Friday to match Woods for the low round of the day.
No matter what happens this weekend, it should be an instant classic that comes down to the final hole.
That is, unless Woods keeps this scalding pace up. If that happens, there will be no stopping him from winning the tournament for the seventh time.
Note: Head over to PGA.com for the full leaderboard of the 2013 WGC Cadillac Championship.