Woods shot a 1-under 71 Thursday in the opening round at Doral, his first round of stroke play since beating Rocco Mediate in the playoff at last summers U.S. Open. With some players still on the course, Woods was six shots behind Jeev Milkha Singh, Prayed Marksaeng and Retief Goosen, all of whom shot 65s.
I was just a touch off, either driving the ball just through the fairways or not hitting it close enough or lipping out, Woods said. Just one of those days.
Singh had one of those days as well ' the good kind, that is.
His best finish in a World Golf Championships event was a tie for 26th in the CA Championship two years ago, and topped his previous best round at Doral by three shots.
A 65, obviously, I have to be happy with that, Singh said.
Goosen could have taken the outright lead on his final hole, but missed a 5-footer for birdie at the par-3 9th. It was a rare putting blip for Goosen; he needed only 21 putts on the first 17 holes. Marksaeng made birdie on his final hole, also the 9th, to grab his share of the lead.
Singh ' who doesnt play in the U.S. exclusively, flying over 100,000 miles annually to play around the globe ' had eight birdies and one bogey on his way to 65. Hes never been better than tied for ninth in a PGA Tour event.
Honestly, I love this golf course, Singh said. I think it suits my eye.
Padraig Harrington, James Kingston and Rod Pampling each shot 66. Louis Oosthuizen birdied four of his first five holes on the way to a 67, and Camilo Villegas ' the Colombian who tends to play well in South Florida, where the Latin population shows up in droves to watch him ' had four birdies on his final nine holes to shoot 67.
Sean OHair also was among those at 5 under, as his round began eagle-eagle. He reached the par-5 opening hole in two shots and made the putt, then chipped in from 42 yards on the par-4 second hole.
It was pretty straightforward, OHair said.
But the biggest crowd, of course, was for Woods.
His first swing was a 3-wood off the 10th tee, with the ball coming to rest in the fairway 282 yards away. Even that far out, it didnt even clear the gallery line, which stretched for at least another 30 yards past the world No. 1s tee shot.
It was just the 12th tournament round for Woods since leaving Doral last year.
It was a little bit frustrating on those greens today, Woods said. I hit so many good putts that looked good. They just didnt go in.
Woods said he wouldnt let a six-shot deficit change his thinking with three rounds remaining.
Its not like I was playing poorly or struggling all the way around or struggling on the greens, not having my speed. I had all that, Woods said. I felt good all day. Its just a matter of getting the ball in a little bit faster.
Defending champion Geoff Ogilvys bid for a fourth WGC title ' and third win in six starts this year ' got off to a slow start.
He slept on the lead four times en route to winning this event last year, but never was near the top of the leaderboard Thursday, shooting an opening-round 73, with just one birdie on his card.
All five of his wins since 2006 have come in events with prestige, like a World Golf Championship event, a U.S. Open or the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship. Ogilvy cant explain why, nor does he grasp his outrageous 18-3 record in head-to-head competition, capped by his second win at Match Play this month.
Im not really sure whether I have a better frame of mind in a big tournament, Ogilvy said. I definitely enjoy big tournaments. Not that I dont enjoy all golf tournaments, but I enjoy big tournaments more.
And this is a big tournament, for certain. Someone in the 80-player, no-cut field will earn $1.4 million.