Jeev Milkha Singh joined American world number three Phil Mickelson,South African Retief Goosen and Thailands Prayad Marksaeng in the lead after firing seven-under-par 65 as Tiger Woods made an unremarkable return to strokeplay golf on Thursday,finishing one-under par in the WGC-CA Championship first round.
While all the attention was on Woods with the crowds flocking to follow his round,Jeev enjoyed an excellent day. The 37-year-old birdied seven out of nine holes in a purple patch in the middle of his round after a bogey on the par-four 11th.
Im very happy with the way I am striking the ball. I putted really well today,for the first time this year and I hope to keep that going, he said.
Jeev,a 10th tee starter,began with a birdie but immediately dropped a shot. But three holes later,he made three birdies in a row to make the turn at three-under. He started his return journey with a bang too,reeling off a birdie treble and then picked up one more shot on the fifth hole.
Suiting the eye
Jeev said he loved the layout of the Blue Monster at Doral. Honestly,I love this golf course. I think it suits my eye. I hit the ball well and I think it all comes down to putting at the end of the day. I rolled it well,so Im pretty pleased with a 65, he said.
Woods was making his first appearance in a strokeplay event since his playoff win at the US Open nine months ago.
The world number one cut short his 2008 season in mid-June to have reconstructive knee surgery before returning to the PGA Tour at last months WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Starting on the back nine,Woods bogeyed the par-three 13th after finding the bunker just short of the green and two- putting.
The 33-year-old took another four on his 13th hole where he found water but the biggest frustration for Woods,who made three birdies,was his putting.
I hit so many putts that looked good. I thought I hit my lines and thought I had the right speed but they just didnt go in, said Woods,who was philosophical about a score that equalled his worst on a course which is one of his favourites.
Asian tour regular Marksaeng finished his round in style with three birdies but the brightest finale belonged to Mickelson who chipped in on the last two holes to share the lead. I felt going into this tournament that I was playing as well as I ever have as far as I can remember, said Mickelson. From 50 yards in,my short game has never been this good.