Storms wreck first day in Miami

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The Independent Online

The storm which ripped through this Miami course here yesterday uprooted 17 trees, toppled TV towers and reduced a giant scoreboard to matchsticks. But at least Tiger Woods's challenge for his first title in 19 tournaments remains intact. If not altogether convincing.

Woods managed to get in 15 holes in the first round of the WGC Cadillac Championship before the sirens called play on a day blighted by a two-and-a-half hour delay. He had to wait until his 10th hole – actually the long first – before he managed his first birdie. Another birdie came two holes later, but having failed to save par from a bunker at the 13th he ended the day one-under. And that happens to be outside the top 30.

Woods is playing with Graeme McDowell and Phil Mickelson and they came off the course one-under and two-under respectively. Woods's efforts left him six behind the leader, Hunter Mahan, who was seven-under after 11 holes as the rain-softened Blue Monster presented an unfamiliarly benign test. Luke Donald, the world No 3, and Martin Kaymer, the world No 1, were others who took advantage of the calm after the storm, lying in a seven-strong group in second on five-under, having played 10 holes. Donald is trying to win back-to-back WGC titles after landing the World Match Play two weeks' ago. The Englishman beat Kaymer in the final in Tucson and even at this early stage the pair look in ominous form.

Saying that, there is so much quality on this leaderboard. Lee Westwood is on four-under, the same number as the young Ulsterman Rory McIlroy, who had played 15 holes.

It was thrilling afternoon viewing which seemed an impossible proposition at lunchtime as the winds gusted to 60mph and trees flew around the property. Play had only just began when the pros were hurriedly removed from the course as the thunder sounded. Less than an hour after the suspension, the scoreboard behind the 18th came crashing down. Two TV towers came down, with one submerged in a small pond behind the ninth. The course looked torn to shreds. And a few hours later the pros made sure it was.