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Tiger Woods battles wind, rain to finish with 72 at Doral

Photo: Fred Vuich / SI

Woods shot an even-par 72 in the opening round.

DORAL, Fla. - Tiger Woods was smiling and laughing after his opening round at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral. But it wasn't the same smile that was on his face after the 62 he shot last Sunday at the Honda Classic. This smile was followed by a shake of the head and a look of disbelief.

Woods had just signed for an even-par 72, and after a day that looked so promising, all Woods could do was laugh it off as he recounted his five-hour trudge through wind and rain.

"It was windy," Woods deadpanned when asked about his round. "It was just a difficult day. The wind was blowing putts around, and it made for a very challenging round."

The weather played Jekyll and Hyde all day. One moment it was sunny. Two minutes later the wind would gust more than 30 miles per hour and rain would pour down. Woods backed off several shots, and a couple of putts, when the wind started to blow hard.

"It was gusty and changed directions every now and then," he said. "For some reason I kept hitting every drive in the first cut, so it added and compounded the problem… and I had to consequently play very conservative on a lot of the shots."

Woods's round started just like it ended last Sunday -- with an eagle on a par 5. After a 355-yard drive down the middle on No. 1, Woods only had a short iron into the hole, and he stuck his second shot to two feet for a kick-in eagle.

Here we go again, right?

Well, remember, this is still the "new" Tiger Woods. He has struggled to keep his momentum through an entire round this year, and that's what made his 62 at the Honda even more spectacular - it was the Tiger we've been waiting to see again.

This new Tiger is much more unpredictable.

He failed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker on the brutal 236-yard, par-3 fourth hole and then three-putted the fifth hole. Just like that Woods was back to even.

"I got off to a nice start today, hit a lot of good shots, just made a couple mistakes with iron shots and cost me two shots right in a row there at four and five," Woods said. "And then after that, I played some really solid golf and just couldn't quite make enough birdies."

Woods breathed life back into his round at the par-5 eighth with a spectacular 3-wood that snaked through a couple of palm trees and landed in a greenside bunker. He got up-and-down for birdie, but then he gave it right back with a three-putt on the par-3 ninth hole.

Once again, his momentum was gone.

By the time Woods stepped up to the tee at the diabolical par-4 18th, which ranked as the toughest hole on Thursday, he still had a chance to finish under par. It became a lot more difficult when he sliced his drive right of the gallery. On his second shot, Woods electrified the crowd one more time with a low bullet that ran to the front of the green.

But on his chip shot, Woods didn't read the green correctly and left himself with a long par putt. He missed and, after muttering to himself, tapped in for a frustrating 72.

"I didn't expect it to break that much, no," Woods said on his chip shot. "I played half of that, and obviously it ended up in a pretty bad spot."

And that pretty much summed up Tiger's day.

As he heads into the second round, there is good news for Woods. First, there are low scores out there. Adam Scott and Jason Dufner are tied for the lead at six under. And second, the first round leader or co-leader has yet to go on to win this year.

Oh, and the forecast looks better on Friday.


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