Mar
10
2011
Birdie-Fest at Blue Monster, Mahan 7-Under Through 11
By Stephanie Wei under European PGA Tour

With soft conditions at Doral, the course was for the taking when first-round play resumed at 2:30pm on Thursday. Hunter Mahan, who started on No. 10, carded six birdies on the back nine. After making the turn, he sank a 13-footer for birdie on No. 1 to get to seven-under. When play was suspended due to darkness at 6:15pm, Mahan tapped-in for par on No. 2

“I got off to a good start and that just kind of gives you a little confidence and momentum,” said Mahan. “With the conditions the way they are, you can be aggressive with a lot of pins and the greens, they are not that fast — there’s a few fast putts, but you can be pretty aggressive with anything inside 20 feet.”

Mahan’s birdie attempt on No. 18 for a 29 just missed.

“It definitely felt good to get the round done with three birdies,” said Charley Hoffman, the leader in the clubhouse, posting a five-under 65.

Six other players, Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, Vijay Singh, Nick Watney, Ryo Ishikawa and Matt Kuchar, are currently five-under for their rounds.

“I had a fantastic start with three birdies and then I played very, very solid golf,” said Kaymer, the current world no. 1 player. “My putting was good. I hit a lot of fairways, but to be honest, you know, it was not that difficult today. You can see the scores, a bunch of people are under par and a bunch of people are three-under, four-under, so it doesn’t seem that difficult.”

Except for Tiger Woods. Teeing off with Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell on No. 10, Tiger couldn’t find his rhythm on the first nine. He looked uncomfortable over the ball and jerky with his putting stroke for the first few holes I walked. On No. 12 he hit the ugliest hook off the tee and ended up in the junk near the pond about 50 yards left. He stayed back for a good twenty-seconds or so to practice his follow-through.

Believe it or not, Tiger struggled worse on the greens. He already has 26 putts with three holes left to play. After McDowell and Phil rolled in their birdies on No. 10, Tiger, who was closest, missed his relatively straightforward uphill attempt. He never gave it a chance, missing it on the low side.

After a violent swing on the par-3 No. 4, Tiger appeared to hurt his left knee (the bad one), limping off the tee.

Don’t blame Sean Foley, who has been working with Tiger since last summer — after all, another one of his students, Mahan, is atop the leaderboard.

Only 11 players of the 66-player field completed the first round, which will resume at 8:30am on Friday. Second-round action will begin at 11:20am as scheduled.

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)