At a stroke, nature cut through the bluster of Donald Trump. Four hundred million dollars buys you a lot of revamp, but when the weather closes in even the Don must accept his limitations, until such a time as a roof is feasible for golf courses.
The horn blew at 21 minutes past two triggering a mass exodus from the course at Trump's Doral golf resort here in Miami. As the players dashed for the safety of the clubhouse the thought occurred that fate had taken against the bombastic one, ridiculing the weather resistant claims made by Trump in his wide-ranging blast of braggadocio in the lead up to the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
The biggest, the best, blah, blah, blah fared no better than the local municipal course when the sub-tropical air began to crackle with electricity. The forks of lightning might have been two-fingers: take that Don, your day is done. It wasn't quite, but the players were missing for the best part of two and half hours, ensuring some would be required to finish their opening rounds today.
The weather interruption was also a rebuke to the ridiculous scheduling that prompted the organisers to condense the tee-times into a two-hour window in the interests of broadcasters. Four hours of daylight went begging as the players and punters twiddled thumbs until 11am. Granted it is a limited-field event, but that does not excuse the abuse of spectators' patience. The paying patron would prefer to watch golfers hit balls than emptying pockets still further in merchandising tents.
The day dawned pleasantly enough. The early starters were bathed in warm sunshine but it wasn't long before the wind started to bend the pins. Starting at the 10th Rory McIlroy began with a birdie, replicating the epic five-wood he smashed to 15 feet at the last on Sunday. There was no equivalence of pressure, but the technical demands were similar, requiring of McIlroy a precision wallop with his second to set up an eagle chance. The putt came up short but he was up and running at one under par.
Two more would follow in the next three holes to leave him three under after four. He was playing beautifully, the swing an effortless tribute to the health of his game. There seemed little danger when he found the centre of the green at the 17th. Before the resetting of the greens in the Gil Hanse redesign there might not have been.
The putting surfaces are bigger this year with serious contouring. McIlroy left his birdie putt short and missed with his par effort. At the next he flirted too much with the water and duly found it, his ball turning left with increasing certainty, although he might have been spared had the ricochet off a marker post been kinder after his ball pitched on the fairway. A second successive bogey would follow.
At least he had a mid-iron second shot into the par-five first on his return, which was begging to be converted into a steal against par. "It's not a bad thing, coming off after two bogeys, I don't mind. You can sort of regroup and start fresh for the next nine holes. I'm in good position going into the first green. I've only got 190 yards to the front so I have a good chance for birdie there," McIlroy said. True to his word, and his mood, a birdie was indeed taken.
The hooter left Luke Donald with a hefty putt for bogey when he returned at the third hole, his 12th, after hitting a branch and ricocheting into the drink. Pity. Like McIlroy, Donald was moving along nicely at three under, within two of Jason Dufner's lead.
"I was playing pretty good, making some putts, hitting a lot of greens. I'm struggling on three, I have a 25 footer for bogey unfortunately, but happy with my start," Donald said. The bogey putt rolled agonisingly short, leaving him with ground to make up over the closing holes.
Spare a thought for Brett Rumford, who was engulfed in a personal storm at his opening hole, hitting into the water three times off the 10th tee en route to an 11. At least there is no cut to miss this week.