Tiger Woods (pictured) is the joint leader alongside Fredrik Jacobsen, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell and Bubba Watson after the first round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The former world number one and the four other players stand at 6 under par and lead by one shot over four players, including the 2009 champion, Phil Mickelson.
Woods can turn up at some courses with a massive chance of winning despite his current form and the Blue Monster at Doral is one such course. Last March he arrived at Bay Hill after absence away from the course due to injury and won by five shots, his seventh title there.
His form figures before the Memorial in June were 40-Missed Cut-40 but he secured a fifth win at Muirfield Village. Then six weeks ago Tiger recovered from a poor effort in Abu Dhabi to win at Torrey Pines, taking the title with four shots to spare to record at eighth win at that venue.
The Blue Monster is not quite in the same category of the courses mentioned but it is definitely a course on which Woods feels confident of ending the week with the winner’s cheque and trophy in his hands. He was the champion at Doral three times in a row from 2005. The only time he has finished outside the top 10 there was when he withdrew due to injury last year.
With the travails of Rory McIlroy continuing with an opening round score of one over par 73 Tiger must be sensing the opportunity to reclaim world number one status and that should provide extra motivation. He returned a score of 74 in the last round of the Honda Classic last Sunday but the field average was 73.7 on a brutal day. It’s also worth noting that he has won 75 US PGA Tour titles.
Watson had just one blemish in his first round of 66. One bogey on the third hole was offset by seven birdies which means Watson is in great shape to win at World Golf Championship level for the first time in his career. He will be defending the Masters title in April but he would be happy to pick up a WGC event en route to Augusta next month.
Mickelson had a bogey free round of 67 as he looks to enhance an outstanding course record. In addition to the win in 2009 he is a regular contender at Doral but he will have to be at his best over the remaining three rounds to outscore Woods and win the tournament for the second time.