DORAL, Fla. (AP) — The new Doral brought out a new look from Tiger Woods. That wasn’t necessarily good news for the world’s No. 1 player.
The old Blue Monster was on the short list of courses that brought out the best in Woods. Along with his four victories, he had never finished out of the top 10 except for 2012, when he was in the middle of the pack on Sunday and withdrew with tightness in his left Achilles’ tendon.
Of 39 complete rounds, only three were over par.
Woods has eight holes Friday morning in the Cadillac Championship to avoid another one.
On a day of raging weather but no visible sign of back pain, Woods failed to make a single birdie in the 10 holes he played before darkness stopped the opening round. He played six of those holes before a delay of more than two hours because of approaching storms.
Woods was 2-over par. His day ended with a three-putt bogey from 55 feet, set up by a pitching wedge that landed some 20 yards short of what he had wanted.
“I’m ready to go back out tomorrow and play well,” he said.
Harris English was simply glad he finished. English knew it was getting dark, so it helped when playing partner Jonas Blixt quickly headed over to the par-3 ninth to put a ball in play before the horn sounded to stop play. English hit 5-iron to 45 feet and made the long birdie putt for a 3-under 69.
The debut of the new Blue Monster — and the return of Woods, who withdrew Sunday from the Honda Classic with lower back pain — received an incomplete grade when the opening round of this World Golf Championship didn’t finish because of the delay.
The 62 players who didn’t finish were to return at 8:45 a.m.
Trump National Doral, completely overhauled by Gil Hanse, showed plenty of bite on a windy, cloudy afternoon.
Jason Dufner was going along beautifully for 10 holes until he struggled to find fairways in a crosswind. Brett Rumford began his round by hitting four shots before he put one in play. Three went into the water on the par-5 10th, and he started out with an 11.
“Mr. Trump wanted a very tough test on the Blue Monster, and I think that’s what he got,” English said.
The course average was at 73.8. Only 19 players were under par when the round was halted.
Dufner, Hunter Mahan, Francesco Molinari and Patrick Reed also were at 3 under. Russell Henley, coming off a playoff win last week at the Honda Classic, made only one par in six holes on the back nine — two birdies, three bogeys. He was in the group at 2 under that included Masters champion Adam Scott, who is in the Nos. 1-3 group with Woods and Henrik Stenson.
Stenson might have hit the most memorable shot of the day — a cold shank from the middle of the second fairway that sailed at a 45-degree angle into bushes.
Scott has a chance to replace Woods at No. 1 in the world if he wins this World Golf Championship and Woods finishes worse that fifth.
Rory McIlroy got off to a blazing start with four birdies in five holes, only to end the back nine with back-to-back bogeys with a long three-putt bogey and a tee shot on the 18th that caught the edge of the water and bounded into the hazard.
That might be the most penal aspect of the new Doral. Anything hit toward some of the edges feeds toward the water, and there’s a lot of water in play.
Not even English was immune. His tee shot on the 18th found the water, and he still had 4-iron to get to the green. But he bounced back on the par-5 first hole by smashing a tee shot so far with help from the wind and the firm fairways that he had a 7-iron left from 213 yards. He hit that to 12 feet for a two-putt birdie, and he was bogey-free the rest of the way.
Dufner said he hasn’t had to think his way around a golf course this much since he was at Muirfield last year for the British Open, even though the tracks are nothing alike.
“This used to be a golf course where you grab your driver on every hole, swing for the fences and play from there,” he said. “You can’t get away with that here at Doral anymore.”
Dufner didn’t feel comfortable with driver on the 14th, so he laid back and had 236 yards left to the par 4. He hit 3-iron and made birdie, anyway. Other times, he failed to dial it back and paid the price.
“You’re not going to go through this tournament on this golf course anymore with no bogeys,” he said. “Everybody is going to be making some bogeys here and there, so pretty happy with where I’m at.”
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