DORAL — Tiger Woods was on his game, and so were most of the world best golfers Thursday in the Cadillac Championship. Except for the world No. 1.
Woods made nine birdies on the Blue Monster at Doral for 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.
Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan were among those one shot behind in the WGC event. 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 an eagle attempt on the par-5 eighth that narrowly missed, he shot 73.
McIlroy has yet to break par this year.
"It was a bit of a struggle, to be honest," McIlroy said. "Hit some good shots. Hit some not-so-good shots. This is a work in progress, and I'm working at it and I'm staying patient."
Woods, who heard occasional shouts of "You're the real No. 1, Tiger," had only a few lapses with his chipping. He holed two long birdie putts, including a sliding, slippery putt from about 40 feet on the par-3 fourth hole, and missed four chances inside 15 feet.
"It was certainly a day that could have been a little lower," Woods said.
Garcia and McDowell had bogey-free rounds. Jacobson made two eagles in a span of three holes, both times hitting a 5-wood onto the green.
Stricker missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the final hole.
Mickelson pulled his tee shot on the 17th hole. He took a free drop on the cart path to avoid the rough and chipped to about 5 feet for birdie. "You hit the ball in as much trouble as I do off the tee, you learn to hit those kinds of shots and have enough practice at it," he said.
McIlroy didn't hit a fairway on the front nine (he started on No. 10). On the second hole, his 80-foot putt was 20 feet short.
"It was nice to sneak in a couple birdies on the last three holes and make it look somewhat respectable, even though everyone seems to be going pretty low," McIlroy said.
Woods said McIlroy looked "just a little bit defensive" with his swing.
"That happens, and we have all gone through stretches like this," Woods said. "It happens, and it happened to him last year in the middle of the year and ended up all right at the end of the year. You can't play well every week. You're going to have ups and downs, and just got to battle through it."
PGA: Andres Romero made two late bogeys to drop into a tie for the Puerto Rico Open lead with Cameron Percy at 7-under 65 after one round in Rio Grande. Romero had an eagle and seven birdies on his first 15 holes.