DORAL — Playing only his sixth round of the year, Adam Scott faced a strong test Thursday and never looked better.
In fierce and relentless wind on the TPC Blue Monster at Doral, Scott kept the ball in play, then hung on for dear life for 6-under 66 that gave him a share of the first-round lead with Jason Dufner in the Cadillac Championship.
"When you're in the fairway on a day like (Thursday), you get a chance to hit it somewhere near the hole, give yourself an opportunity," Scott said. "If you're in the rough, it's very hard to even just hit the green, let alone give yourself a chance. I took advantage of the good shots early on, and then battled my way in from there."
It was a battle all day for Rory McIlroy in his first event as the world's No. 1. He twice flirted with the water, had a three-putt bogey and finished with 73.
Tiger Woods wasn't much better. He began with a tap-in eagle on the par-5 first hole but narrowly missed the fairways and had a tough time figuring out the wind and whether the ball would jump out of the rough. He badly misjudged the line of his chip on the 18th hole and closed with a bogey for par 72.
But it wasn't a devastating start for them.
Only a dozen players managed to break 70, and a dozen more broke par in the World Golf Championships event. The average score was 72.7, and no hole was more terrifying that the par-4 18th, which was 471 yards dead into the wind, water hugging the entire left side of the hole and front of the green. The average score was 4.74, which was more than three of the par 5s.
"I hit 3-wood into 18, par 4, and 7-iron into the first, which is a par 5," Luke Donald said after shooting 70. "Just a beast of a hole (Thursday)."
Charl Schwartzel and Thomas Bjorn were at 68, while the group at 69 included PGA champion Keegan Bradley and Steve Stricker, who was tied for the lead through 12 holes and dropped three shots in the final hour.
"The course is playable. You can see it in the scores," Stricker said. "It's still playable, whether we have this kind of wind or not."
McIlroy said he was mentally flat.
"It's tough," he said. "When you're working, you've got (the World Match Play in Arizona) and you've got a chance to go to world No. 1, and then Honda (at Palm Beach Gardens last week), you've got a chance … then all of a sudden you're there, and you're like, 'What do you do?' I just need to go out and set myself a target (today) and try and post a number."
Big Bucks: Donald Trump, who bought the Doral Golf Resort outside Miami for $150 million, said he plans to invest more than $200 million to revamp it and stop at nothing to make it the ultimate golf destination: "It's a tremendous location, 800 acres right smack in the middle of Miami, and we look to make this one of the great places anywhere in the world for golf. It needs a lot of work. It's a little bit tired, and that's okay." The sale is to close June 1.
PGA: Matt Jones and George McNeill topped the leaderboard at 6-under 66 at the Puerto Rico Open in Rio Grande. Ben Curtis was a stroke back, and Jeff Overton, Todd Hamilton, Kevin Kisner and Daniel Summerhays followed at 68.