Tiger takes Doral lead with a 64
MIAMI — Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson resumed their duel at opposite ends of Doral yesterday, and the outcome didn't change.
Woods was still one shot better.
In a balmy start to the Florida swing, Woods again reached the 603-yard, par-5 12th hole in two shots and ran off a string of birdies along the back nine of the Blue Monster for an 8-under 64 and a one-shot lead over Mickelson and four others in the Ford Championship at Doral.
"This guy Tiger seems to play well every day, every week," Mickelson said. "I'm just trying to keep pace. I'm trying to maybe have another shot at dueling out with him on Sunday, and I'm glad that he's playing well. I've got to do my part and stay with him."
Woods won last year in a scintillating showdown between golf's two biggest personalities, with Woods pulling ahead on a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 17 and Mickelson lipping out a birdie chip on the last hole.
They teed off at the same time yesterday, but on opposite nines.
They were together only on the leaderboard, although both had some catching up to do on a day when 60 players broke 70 and 116 players were at par or better.
"The times I looked at the board, neither one of us were up there," Woods said. "We weren't leading. I knew 7 (under) was leading, so try to get up there somehow."
Woods got off to a hot start with birdies on three of his first four holes, including a tee shot within a foot on the 222-yard, par-3 fourth hole. Mickelson made three straight birdies around the turn, including a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 5.
At that point, Woods was only about 250 yards away as he walked down the 14th fairway. He hit 9-iron into 10 feet, the start of three straight birdies that shot him to the top of the leaderboard. The 64 was his best score in the first round on the PGA Tour since a 63 in the 2003 Western Open, which he went on to win by five.
It was sizzling stuff, even though it was only Thursday.
There are still three days left, and loads of other players capable of denying fans an encore.
Camilo Villegas, one of several promising rookies who hit the ball a mile, birdied four straight holes until settling for a two-putt par from about 8 feet on the 18th. That put him at 65, along with former PGA champion Rich Beem, Ryan Palmer and Mark Wilson, one of five players who got into this elite field with a top-10 finish in Tucson last week.
Castle High alum Dean Wilson, who teed off in the first group, finished as the early clubhouse leader with a 66.
Wilson, currently 39th on the PGA money list, burst out of the gate with birdies on the first two holes, before a bogey on the par-4 third hole. He birdied the fifth and ninth to make the turn at 3-under 33. He birdied the 10th, 11th and 14th, and finished with four consecutive pars.
"Maybe I realize I'm not that good coming from behind, so I have to try to sprint out and hold on," said Wilson, who shared the first-round lead with an 8-under 64 at the Nissan Open (Feb. 16-19), where he finished tied for seventh.
Indonesia Open: David Higgins, Wang Ter-chang, Simon Dyson and Thonchai Jaidee shot 6-under 66s yesterday to share the first-round lead in the Indonesia Open at Jakarta.
Thailand's Thonchai eagled the par-5 first hole and added six birdies, but dropped back to the pack when he bogeyed the 18th on the Emeralda course.
American Anthony Kang, Sweden's Steven Jeppesen and Australia's Anthony Brown, Andrew Buckle and Brad Kennedy opened with 67s.
The $1 million tournament is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.
www.PGATour.com contributed to this report.