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Wind the real leader at Doral

DORAL — Five birdies were enough to put Charl Schwartzel among the leaders at the CA Championship. No mistakes is what put him in the lead Thursday on a rough-and-tumble day at Doral.

Schwartzel, who got into the elite field with two victories in his native South Africa at the start of the season, got around the famed Blue Monster without a bogey on his way to 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead in the World Golf Championship event.

Not so fortunate were Ernie Els, Robert Allenby and Vijay Singh. They finished one shot back but were poised to claim a share of the lead or better until they stepped to the tee on the 443-yard closing hole, which was playing into a wind strong enough to knock off players' caps.

Singh was in the lead until putting his tee shot into the water and making double bogey for 68.

Els was tied for the lead until his approach around the palm trees came up short and into the water. He scrambled for bogey and also wound up with 68.

Allenby, who had a five-shot lead early in the round when he was at 8 under through 12 holes, finished with four straight bogeys, the last one when he blasted out of a back bunker and saw his ball roll off the green and nearly into the water. He found perspective quickly after his 68.

"That's the way things go," Allenby said. "If someone had said you're going to shoot 4 under (Thursday), I would have taken it."

Schwartzel could not have agreed more.

The wind, which gives the Blue Monster its fangs, was gusting when the 68-player field teed off and relented only late in the afternoon. Schwartzel got the toughest part of the course — No. 18 — out of the way early because he started on the back nine. He was among the few players who made par on a hole that averaged 4.65 strokes, which was higher than three of the par 5s.

"I didn't think 67 was out there at the beginning of the day, with the wind as strong as it was," Schwartzel said. "Early on, I made five birdies, which I thought you could do, especially with three par 5s being downwind. Some of them you're hitting wedge. The big achievement for me was not making any bogeys. That kept the scorecard very clean."

PGA: Heavy rain forced organizers to suspend play on the opening day of the Puerto Rico Open in Rio Grande after 18 players had teed off. The first round was scheduled to be resumed this morning.

Wind the real leader at Doral 03/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 11, 2010 11:21pm]
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