American Hunter Mahan fired seven birdies and charged into a two-stroke lead after 11 holes of the storm-delayed opening round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral on Thursday.
After a storm caused havoc around the course,ripping up trees and causing a delay of nearly three hours,only nine players were able to finish their round before darkness fell. Mahan,playing the back nine first,shot out of the gate with birdies on each of his opening four holes and added three more before play was suspended.
The American leads a pack of seven on five-under that includes world number one Martin Kaymer of Germany,Fijian Vijay Singh,Japanese 19-year-old Ryo Ishikawa and Luke Donald of Britain. After the storm,conditions were well suited to low scoring and Mahan took full advantage.
The storm brought some tranquillity to the course because there was just no wind. There was nothing out there and the course is in perfect shape, said Mahan. I got off to a good start and that gives you a little confidence and some momentum. In those conditions you can be aggressive with a lot of the pins and the greens.
Tiger Woods,playing with rival Phil Mickelson,was at one-under after 15 holes for a share of the 32nd place at a course where he has three wins and never finished outside the top 10. Mickelson was a stroke better off and said he enjoyed a rare first round outing with a fellow former world number one. We had a fun day. We didnt play our best but we didnt play terrible or shoot ourselves in the foot, said Mickelson. We are in a good position to come back out,finish the round strong and play the second round.
Lee Westwood,who could return to the top of the rankings with a victory here,was on four-under after completing the front nine of the Blue Monster course. At one stage it looked as if play could be more limited after the storm arrived just five minutes before Woods,Mickelson and Graeme McDowell were due to tee off. Tournament officials said 17 trees were ripped out of the ground by winds that reached speeds of 84 kph and knocked over a television gantry and demolished a leaderboard. Divers were called in to help recover television equipment which ended in water traps and debris blew around the course.