|Tiger Woods (left) and Rory McIlroy wait to hit their tee shot on the sixth hole on Thursday. (AFP-Yonhap News)|
DORAL, Florida (AP) ― Tiger Woods was on his game, and so were most of the world best golfers Thursday in the Cadillac Championship.
Except for the world’s No. 1 player.
Woods made nine birdies on the Blue Monster at Doral for a 6-under 66 that put him in a five-way share of the lead with Masters champion Bubba Watson, former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia and Freddie Jacobson.
This World Golf Championship lived up to its name with Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan among those one shot behind.
But it was another rough day for Rory McIlroy.
He hit only three fairways and made six bogeys that kept him at par or worse on a perfect day for scoring. Despite making a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 first hole, and lacing a 5-iron over the water for another eagle attempt on the par-5 eighth that narrowly missed, the best he could manage was a 73.
McIlroy has yet to break par this year.
“It was a bit of a struggle, to be honest,” McIlroy said to Sky Sports. “Hit some good shots. Hit some not-so-good shots. As I’ve been saying all week, this is a work in progress and I’m working at it and I’m staying patient.”
He declined to speak to reporters, grabbing a quick lunch and smiling at screaming fans who wanted his autograph as he headed to the practice range.
McIlroy played alongside Woods and Luke Donald ― Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the world ― and while this essentially is a home game for Woods having won three times at Doral, the occasional shouts of “You’re the real No. 1, Tiger” rang true.
Coming off a pedestrian performance a week ago at the Honda Classic, Woods looked sharp in most aspects of his game, except for a few lapses with his chipping. He wasted two early birdies with a three-putt bogey on the 13th hole and a delicate flop shot that he flubbed on the 14th, leading to another bogey. His chip up the slope on the third didn’t reach the green for another bogey.
That’s all that was wrong.
He holed two long birdie putts, including a sliding, slippery putt from about 40 feet on the par-3 fourth hole, and missed four reasonable chances inside 15 feet. His final birdie was on the par-5 eighth, when he had to lay up from a fairway bunker and hit a wedge that stopped 2 feet from the hole.
Romero, Percy lead in Puerto Rico
|Korea’s Yang Yong-eun plays a shot on the 13th hole at the Puerto Rico Open on Thursday. (AFP-Yonhap News)|
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico (AP) ― Andres Romero made two late bogeys Thursday to drop into a tie for the Puerto Rico Open lead with Cameron Percy at 7-under 65.
Romero, the Argentine player who won the PGA Tour’s 2008 New Orleans event and the European Tour’s 2007 Deutsche Bank tournament, had an eagle and seven birdies on his first 15 holes to reach 9 under, then fell back with the bogeys on the par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.
Percy, from Australia, had nine birdies and two bogeys on the Trump International course.
Blayne Barber and Jon Curran were a stroke back, and two-time major champion Angel Cabrera opened with a 67 to match Bill Lunde, Steve LeBrun, Brad Fritsch, Justin Bolli, Morgan Hoffmann, Brian Stuard, Peter Uihlein and Rafael Campos. Patrick Cantlay, the 20-year-old former UCLA player coming off a Web.com Tour victory last week in Colombia, shot 70.
Romero has missed the cuts in four of his five starts this year, shooting 75-67 last week in the Honda Open.
“I’m happy about the way things went,” Romero said. “Last week on Thursday I started striking the ball quite well and then played really well on Friday, but it wasn’t good enough for me to make the cut. I was very pleased at the end, and I practiced a lot over the weekend. I had a good feeling about my game, and today I just felt confident on each and every shot I hit. I felt I couldn’t miss, and thank God, I’m putting well again.”
Percy, a five-time winner on the Australasian Tour, tied for 71st in the Honda Classic, wasting a 71-66 start with weekend rounds of 77 and 78.
“I just drove the ball really nicely,” Percy said.
“I’ve been trying to not hit the ball too hard, so I just hit three-quarters drivers and just kept the ball in play. I did that today and it was quite nice.”