Sat, Mar 12, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Kaymer solid, Mahan leads at Doral

SCENE STEALER:The weather provided the most drama of the day as a sudden mid-day storm halted play for several hours, with winds of nearly 100kph being recorded

AFP, MIAMI

Martin Kaymer of Germany hits a bunker shot on the second hole during the first round of this year’s WGC Cadillac Championship at the TPC Blue Monster at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa on Thursday in Doral, Florida.

Photo: AFP

World No. 1 Martin Kaymer made an impressive start on Thursday to move within two strokes of the lead when darkness halted play at the storm-hit WGC Cadillac Championship.

Kaymer birdied his first three holes and was five-under after 10 when play was halted for the day in fading light at Doral’s Blue Monster after a fierce mid-day thunderstorm delayed the start for most players.

Only nine golfers in the 66-man field completed the round on Thursday due to a storm that toppled trees, television towers and a leaderboard.

Play was stopped for nearly 3 hours before resuming in almost perfectly still weather that left the course at the mercy of the world’s best players.

“I had a fantastic start and then played very, very solid golf,” Kaymer said. “My putting was good and I hit a lot of fairways, although, to be honest, it was not that difficult today.”

Nobody took advantage of conditions more than American Hunter Mahan, who birdied his first four holes and improved to seven-under after 11 holes to stand atop the leaderboards that remained standing.

“I got off to a good start and that gives you a little confidence and momentum,” said Mahan, perhaps best remembered for chunking a chip shot that effectively handed Europe the Ryder Cup last year.

He enjoyed a two-stroke lead over a group of seven players, including compatriot Charley -Hoffman, who was one of the lucky few to finish, carding a five-under 67.

Kaymer and Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa, who completed 12 holes, were also five-under.

Former world No. 1 Tiger Woods struggled early, but picked up two birdies shortly after the turn to end in a reasonable position, one-under after 15 holes.

Fifth-ranked Woods played in front of a large gallery alongside No. 6 Phil Mickelson and Northern Ireland’s fourth-ranked Graeme McDowell, while the world’s three top-ranked players played together on the other side of the course in front of a much smaller group of spectators.

Luke Donald kept pace with Kaymer, finishing the day on five-under, with fellow Englishman Lee Westwood just one shot adrift.

Woods made it look difficult at times, hitting several wayward drives as he showed that his swing changes under instructor Sean Foley are a work in progress.

He didn’t gather a birdie until his 10th hole, the easy par-five first, where he found the green with his second shot and two-putted.

Woods also birdied the par-four third, but no thanks to his drive, which he pulled into the left rough, perhaps overcompensating to ensure he would not find the water hazard right of the fairway. Finding a decent lie in the rough, he flew his second shot to within 10 feet of the hole and drained the putt.

Three players withdrew before play began — South African Tim Clark with an elbow injury and Americans Ben Crane, with a rib injury, and Bubba Watson, with an illness.

The day’s biggest drama was provided by the weather. Play was halted just before noon after only 25 minutes of competition as ominous gray storm clouds loomed to the northwest.

The storm hit a few minutes later, with winds of nearly 100kph that demolished the large scoreboard at the 18th hole and toppled a couple of television towers.

A tournament official said nobody had been injured.

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