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Woods, Scott eager to tame new-look Blue Monster

Mar 2, 2014; Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA; Tiger Woods drives on nine during the final round of The Honda Classic golf tournament at PGA Nati
Mar 2, 2014; Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA; Tiger Woods drives on nine during the final round of The Honda Classic golf tournament at PGA Nati

By Steve Keating

DORAL, Florida (Reuters) - Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and a nasty Blue Monster will share the spotlight at this week's WGC-Cadillac Championship in Doral, where a new world number one may be crowned.

The world's top 50 ranked players have arrived in Miami to take on a famed Blue Monster Course that has been made even more frightening after a $250 million renovation.

Celebrity business magnate and resort owner Donald Trump described the new layout as big, bold and fair on Wednesday and players echoed that assessment heralding the rebirth of what is regarded as one of the PGA Tour's toughest courses.

The Blue Monster will provide a worthy stage for a mouth-watering showdown between the world's top two-ranked players in defending champion Woods and world number two Scott.

If Scott wins the tournament and Woods finishes seventh or worse, the Australian will bump him from top of the rankings.

"I don't know how Tiger feels about it but it's obviously a position (number one) he's pretty comfortable with for a long time throughout his career and I can assure you from knowing him just a little bit, it's a position he probably wouldn't want to give up," said Scott. "It would be a dream come true to make it to that point."

After withdrawing from Sunday's final round of the Honda Classic with back spasms, Woods declared himself fit on Wednesday to defend his title and ranking.

In 13 career starts at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Woods has seven wins, the last four coming at the Doral resort.

While the Blue Monster has been a happy hunting ground for Woods, the 14-time major winner will find himself in strangely unfamiliar surroundings this year having yet to get a look at the changes.

"I have to go out to a golf course I don't know yet; so I don't know the feel of how this course is going to be playing," said Woods. "We're going to do a lot of homework out there today and try to get a good feel of how we're going to attack this place."

Woods will be partnered with Masters champion Scott and FedExCup winner Henrik Stenson of Sweden, bringing the world's top three ranked players together in a blockbuster group for the opening two rounds.

Another marquee group will feature Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, who will be bidding to rebound from a heartbreaking loss at the Honda Classic, fan favorite and 2009 Doral winner Phil Mickelson and in-form Australian Jason Day, winner of WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

McIlroy has produced some superb golf of late but has been unable to close the deal.

The double major winner had led by three strokes after six holes at the Honda Classic only to wobble badly over the back nine en route to losing in a four-way playoff.

"I was just disappointed with how I played coming down the stretch. It obviously wasn't what I would have liked," said McIlroy. "But plenty of positives, getting myself in position to win, it was my third stroke play event of the year, and third chance to win.

"I feel like my game is there to get into contention again this week and that's what I'll try and do."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

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