Scott, Dufner tame the Blue Monster | NevadaAppeal.com

Scott, Dufner tame the Blue Monster

Associated Press

DORAL, Fla. (AP) – Playing only his sixth round of the year, Adam Scott faced a strong test Thursday at Doral and never looked better.

In fierce and relentless wind on the TPC Blue Monster at Doral, Scott kept the ball in play and then hung on for dear life for a 6-under 66 that gave him a share of the lead with Jason Dufner in the Cadillac Championship.

“When you’re in the fairway on a day like today, you get a chance to hit it somewhere near the hole, give yourself an opportunity,” Scott said. “If you’re in the rough, it’s very hard to even just hit the green, let alone give yourself a chance. I took advantage of the good shots early on, and then battled by way in from there.”

It was a battle all day for Rory McIlroy in his first event at No. 1 in the world. He twice flirted with the water, had a three-putt bogey and wound up with a 73.

Tiger Woods wasn’t much better. He began his round with a tap-in eagle on the par-5 first hole, but narrowly missed the fairways and had a tough time figuring out the wind and whether the ball would jump out of the rough. Woods badly misjudged the line of his chip on the 18th hole and closed with a bogey for a 72.

It wasn’t a devastating start for either of them.

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Only a dozen players managed to break 70, and a dozen more broke par. The average score was 72.7, and no hole was more terrifying that the par-4 18th, which was 471 yards dead into the wind, water hugging the entire left side of the hole and front of the green.

The average score was 4.74, which was more than three of the par 5s.

“I hit 3-wood into 18, par 4, and 7-iron into the first, which is a par 5,” Luke Donald said after a 70. “Just a beast of a hole today.”

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel made a par, and his reaction spoke volumes.

“Felt like an eagle,” he said. “It’s one of those where you just really have to take it on. There’s nowhere out. I probably hit my best tee shot of the day down there, a beautiful 5-iron and ran off there with a 4. I’m very happy.”

Schwartzel and Thomas Bjorn were at 68, while the group at 69 included PGA champion Keegan Bradley and Steve Stricker, who was tied for the lead through 12 holes and dropped three shots in the final hour.