The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

March 8, 2013

Tiger thrives as McIlroy has rough day at Doral

(Continued)

McIlroy, who came clean Wednesday with a sincere apology and pledge to never do that again, was happy to get back to golf.

But these are not happy times.

Luke Donald noticed an additional waggle in McIlroy's swing, evidence that he is thinking about where the club is going on the way back. Most times, players are concerned with the club going forward.

"That's the toughest time in golf when you can't concentrate on just hitting good shots," Donald said after a 70. "You're focusing on your swing. It's a game of confidence, and once he gets a little bit of that back he'll be fine."

Which comes first, confidence or good shots? Donald contemplated this and settled on good shots.

Those seemed to belong to everyone else.

Woods holed two long birdie putts, including that sliding, slippery putt from about 40 feet on the par-3 fourth hole, and he missed four reasonable chances inside 15 feet. His final birdie was on the par-5 eighth, when he had to lay up from a fairway bunker and hit a wedge that stopped 2 feet from the hole.

"It was certainly a day that could have been a little lower," Woods said.

Just about everyone could say that in these conditions.

Garcia and McDowell were in the same group. Not only did they have bogey-free rounds, both birdied the same four holes. Jacobson made two eagles in a span of three holes, both times hitting a 5-wood onto the green to just over 12 feet.

Watson played in the group with Mickelson and Stricker, and they were a collective 16-under par.

Stricker had a chance to tie for the lead except he missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the final hole. Mickelson, as usual, kept it entertaining. He pulled his tee shot on the 17th hole and his ball stopped rolling after it traveled some 450 yards. He purposely took a free drop on the cart path to avoid the rough, and chipped that to about 5 feet for birdie.

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