Tiger Woods was on his game, and so were most of the world’s best golfers Thursday in the Cadillac Championship.
Except for the world’s No. 1 player.
Woods made nine birdies on the Blue Monster at Doral, Fla., for a 6-under-par 66 that put him in a five-way share of the lead with Masters champion Bubba Watson, former US Open champion Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia, and Freddie Jacobson.
This World Golf Championship lived up to its name with Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, and Hunter Mahan among those one shot behind.
But it was another rough day for Rory McIlroy.
He hit only three fairways and made six bogeys that kept him at par or worse on a perfect day for scoring. Despite making a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 first hole, and lacing a 5-iron over the water for another eagle attempt on the par-5 eighth that narrowly missed, the best he could manage was a 73.
‘‘It was a bit of a struggle, to be honest,’’ McIlroy told Sky Sports. ‘‘Hit some good shots. Hit some not-so-good shots. As I’ve been saying all week, this is a work in progress and I’m working at it and I’m staying patient.’’
Woods, coming off a pedestrian performance a week ago at the Honda Classic, looked sharp in most aspects of his game, except for a few lapses with his chipping. He wasted two early birdies with a three-putt bogey on the 13th hole and a delicate flop shot that he flubbed on the 14th, leading to another bogey. His chip up the slope on the third didn’t reach the green for another bogey.
That’s all that was wrong.
He holed two long birdie putts, including a sliding, slippery putt from about 40 feet on the par-3 fourth hole, and 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,’’ said Woods.
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.
‘‘You hit the ball in as much trouble as I do off the tee, you learn to hit those kinds of shots and have enough practice at it,’’ he said. ‘‘I knew what was going to happen.’’
PGA — Andres Romero made two late bogeys to drop into a tie for the Puerto Rico Open lead in Rio Grande with Cameron Percy at 7-under 65.
Romero had an eagle and seven birdies on his first 15 holes to reach 9 under, then fell back with the bogeys on the par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth. Percy had nine birdies and two bogeys.
Blayne Barber and Jon Curran, a Hopkinton, Mass., native who Monday qualified, were a stroke back, and two-time major champion Angel Cabrera opened with a 67 to match Bill Lunde, Steve LeBrun, Brad Fritsch, Justin Bolli, Morgan Hoffmann, Brian Stuard, Peter Uihlein, and Rafael Campos.