Usually the matchup between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy is closer than this. The top two golfers in the world have been paired together before, and occasionally Tiger will get the best of Rory or McIlroy will play a touch better than Woods.
But this week's WGC-Cadillac Championship had all the makings of being a different affair for the two, and it played out just like that on Thursday at the Blue Monster. Tiger was in complete control of his golf game, making nine birdies on a day where the hole seemed twice as big for most of the elite field taking on Doral. Woods opened with a 6-under 66 while McIlroy continued to struggle with his golf game.
Tiger has always been comfortable at Doral, and seemed as fluid with his golf swing as we've seen him since Torrey Pines. Woods opened with a par on the par-5 10th, made birdies on Nos. 11 & 12 before back-to-back bogeys brought him back to even par. It was the 16th hole that really got Woods going, beginning a stretch of four birdies over his next five holes and Tiger was just a touch more speed short on his final hole of having 10 birdies in his round.
What was the key to Tiger's round compared to last week at the Honda Classic? His putting. Tiger was seen getting some putting lessons on Wednesday from Ryder and Presidents Cup partner Steve Stricker and it seemed to help, saying after his round to Golf Channel, "Whatever Strick says, I want to do."
Rory's round of 73 was about as inconsistent as his 2013 season, a roller-coaster affair that saw McIlroy make five bogeys, three birdies and an eagle. The driver was still the big issue for McIlroy, who was able to hit only three of 14 fairways at Doral, and while he hasn't completely shot himself out of the cut-free WGC event, he has a ton of people between himself and the leaders.
Still, it wasn't all bad for McIlroy considering his start. Rory was 3-over par with three holes to go but was able to make two birdies on his way in to keep his round respectable. Sure, a round of 73 isn't what we'd expect from the No. 1 player in the world but at this point, with all that has happened over the last seven days, anything positive is a good sign for Rory.
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