You'll be hard-pressed to find a more star-studded leaderboard than what we have after the first round of the Cadillac Championship at Doral in Miami, Fla.
Conditions were nearly perfect for golf at the normally blustery, par-72 Blue Monster. So, not only is our leaderboard packed with star power, but they are up there with eye-catching, low numbers. Check it out:
Round 1 Leaderboard
View the full leaderboard on PGATour.com.
There were big names all over this course, but one group was stealing the majority of the attention.
The world's Top Three golfers teed it up in the same group, as Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Luke Donald started their tournament together on No. 10.
The PGA Tour tweeted the results of this marquee group:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
Tiger Woods makes 9 birdies and posts 6-under 66 (one off lead) at Doral. Luke Donald, -2 70; Rory McIlroy, +1 73.3/7/2013, 9:26:05 PM
As you can see, Woods got the best of his peers on this day. He was obviously excellent, but he was inconsistent.
He had just six pars in the round, as his nine birdies were marred by three bogeys, including back-to-back red numbers on Nos. 13 and 14.
While Woods still isn't completely honed in with his driving accuracy, he had his game rolling and his putting stroke was solid.
He also had his distance control working—like he did from 126 yards on the par-4 second hole:
This opening round for Woods could spell doom for the rest of the field. That is what this tweet by ESPN's Justin Ray would lead you to believe:
Justin Ray @JustinRayGC
Tiger Woods opens with 66 - previous 2 times he shot lower than 67 in 1st round at Doral, he went on to win.3/7/2013, 9:26:34 PM
It is important to add a little caveat to that stat, as the course was so vulnerable Thursday—a 66 is not quite as impressive as it is on a typical day at Doral.
Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy did not fare as well, but it was still a step in the right direction for the world No. 1.
McIlroy's swing continued to be erratic, and he struggled with the putter as well. However, he battled and certainly flashed some signs of the old Rory—like he did with this eagle effort on the par-5 first hole:
After prematurely walking off the course in the midst of a terrible round last week at the Honda Classic, Rory looked to have his game moving in the right direction, and the gallery greeted him warmly.
Rory certainly seemed to be enjoying his day more. He and Tiger were chatting and smiling on most of their walks around the course.
As for golfers who enjoyed more success than Rory, Dustin Johnson had the lead all to himself for a portion of this tournament, as he had climbed to 7-under with shots like this approach from 90 yards on the par-5 eighth:
However, DJ finished double bogey, bogey to wind up at 4-under. It will be interesting to see if this terrible finish destroys his confidence. Johnson has been in a slump, and he started last week with a good first round and got worse with each passing day.
The terrible finish left Johnson staring up at a host of golfers.
Sergio Garcia was one such golfer. The Spaniard's stroke looks great. He was solid and steady while not suffering a single over-par hole with his 66, and if he hadn't left his birdie putt on the edge on his final hole, he would have the outright lead.
That is not to suggest that Sergio didn't have his putter working. Check out this spectacular effort on No. 13:
Almost the exact same thing can be said for Graeme McDowell. He also didn't suffer a bogey in his 66, and he also had his flat blade working, as you can see here on No. 14:
Then there was the day's best group. Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker were one of the last groups on the course, and they destroyed the Blue Monster.
That group suffered just one bogey while combining to go 16-under par.
Phil Mickelson, who finished at 5-under, was solid off the tee and he had his irons working. Take a look at this 100-yard approach on No. 5:
Mickelson and Stricker were excellent in firing their 5-unders, but they are still chasing Watson, who blew a three-stroke lead in the final round here a year ago.
Watson was rock-solid while keeping the demons of last year at bay. He was booming his drives and sinking the putts he needed to make—like this 14-foot effort for birdie on No. 5:
This was a great day for golf, and it all set up for what should be a thrilling tournament with the game's best battling for the top prize money.
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