DORAL, Fla. – Tiger Woods was on his game, and so were most of the world’s 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.
Coming off a pedestrian performance a week ago at the Honda Classic, Woods looked sharp in most aspects of his game.
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.
It was certainly a day that could have been a little lower, said Woods, who was selected for random drug testing after his round.
PGA: In Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Andres Romero made two late bogeys to drop into a tie for the Puerto Rico Open lead with Cameron Percy at 7-under 65.
Romero, 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.