WGC-Cadillac Championship: Tiger Woods' 66 makes mincemeat of the Blue Monster as Rory McIlroy struggles

World No 1's superb round leaves him within three shots of leader Patrick Reed, while Northern Irishman's challenge collapses mid-round

Doral, Florida

A white hot Saturday was the prelude to an early bath last Sunday so it would, perhaps, be premature to invest too much in the Tiger Woods power surge at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Nevertheless it remains a thing of wonder to see the Woods yo-yo on an upward trajectory, eight birdies in a 66 making mincemeat of the recalibrated Blue Monster.

At the other end of the joy scale, Rory McIlroy crossed paths with Woods on the way down, a chipped birdie at the last offering little consolation on an afternoon blighted by a pair of sevens en route to a 75. McIlroy was in the water at the eighth, from the middle of the fairway, and again at the tenth, shipping four shots to par in the process.

At one point during his second round on windswept Friday, Woods was haemorrhaging at seven over par, ten shots adrift. Injuries notwithstanding, few in the history of the game have applied teeth to bit like Woods and thus did he carve his way through the field to sit fourth on one under par, within three of Patrick Reed’s lead.

The conditions, it must be noted, were closer to the seasonal norm than the opening two days, when the wind made a lottery of this course. Heavy overnight watering took the concrete out of the greens making the pins easier to chase. Jimmy Walker earlier shot a 67 to show what could be done before Woods bowled in to raised the standard further with the low round of the week.

The back trouble that took him out of the equation at the Honda Classic 13 holes into his final round gets progressively sore and requires round-the-clock treatment, he said, but there are no plans yet to call a taxi. Woods described this round as his most complete of the year eclipsing the 65 he shot a week ago at PGA National.

Luke Donald brought to Doral a growing optimism about the state of his game Luke Donald brought to Doral a growing optimism about the state of his game “It was nice to get back in the tournament again.  I held it together yesterday, a long day, tough day and that gave me a chance today. I figured, hey, I'm only six back, that's definitely doable, especially with the conditions and how difficult this golf course is playing.  If I just get back to even par for the tournament, I'll be right there and I did one better.”

It was all going so well for McIlroy, too, just one off the lead when he pulled his approach into the lake beside the eighth. It wasn’t even close to staying dry. Two holes later he was five adrift and reeling. At least his playing partner held up, Jamie Donaldson carding a 71 for a share of fourth place with Woods.

“It was a tough day,” McIlroy said. “Hitting two balls in the water, I didn't play the par 5s well at all.  Played those in 4 over.  So when you do that around here, you're sort of putting yourself behind the 8 ball a little bit. It was still a bit of a grind out there.”

Luke Donald brought to Doral a growing optimism about the state of his game, which he claims is maturing nicely following the swing changes begun seven months ago under the influence of new coach Chuck Cook.

A steep fall from the top of the world rankings to 24 in the space of 19 months, having spent more than 200 weeks of his career in the top ten is, he believes, in arrest. We can disregard the 82 posted on Friday in conditions likened by Graeme McDowell to a day at the Open Championship when the wind is up.

Donald was one off the lead after his opening 70 and delivering the club to the ball in a manner that better reflected his upbeat commentary. Excuse the jargon. The drilling into detail is the golfer’s comfort of first resort in times of difficulty. “I'm feeling much more confident with trajectory and my swing plane is really good. I'm standing my posture a lot better than I used to,” he said.

“I still have a little bit where I want to hit it with my hands and I've just got to keep working on rotating through the ball and hitting it with my body and trusting it.  So it's getting very close. I'm hitting a lot of shots that I'm really excited about. The last two weeks, my short game has been great, too, though, and making some putts. It's nice to have all parts come together.”

Donald was back in the zone yesterday, bringing his ball home in a level par 72. This reconfigured course is too difficult to take apart even when the wind drops. His progress will please Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, who will have some testing choices to make come September if the core of Europe’s recent success is to be retained.

Two groups ahead of Donald Lee Westwood was pressing through the same phase of the endless cycle for improvement, slowly piecing together the elements of a game that is still formidable when tuned. Westwood shot a two-under-par 70, the chip at the last, dead from 90ft, another example of his flourishing short game.

McGinley will need them both in his team and playing well to have any chance of maintaining Europe’s hold on the trophy. The prospect of missing out is a real one and something Donald is ready to confront just yet. “A tournament like this, a win here, win a major, and you're in,” he said. “I don't want to panic. I just want to keep playing well. How I feel about where my game is going, if I keep playing like I know I can play, then it will take care of itself. ”

About his round, Donald added: “My goal was to shoot below the temperature, which was forecast to be 74, so I did that. Friday wasn’t too bad, an anomaly really. A few bad shots at the wrong time and a couple that were pretty good that caught a slope on the green and rolled into the water. In cross winds this course is on the edge, good shots are being penalised, which is a bit unfortunate. In conditions like today it’s manageable.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003