Woods leads by four in Miami
McDowell in second place but WGC title is American’s to lose at Doral
Graeme McDowell celebrates his eagle on the 16th greenat Doral. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images
The world number two carded seven birdies and only two bogeys to end the day in a commanding position, despite his Northern Irish playing partner recording two eagles.
Woods started off with a tap-in birdie after his eagle putt just stayed up on the par-five opener. He matched that score at the second and third and, though he gave a shot back at the fifth, a fourth birdie after a superb approach to the long eighth took him to 16 under for the tournament.
He birdied the 10th after his approach bounced just over the hole and added another at the par-three 15th, and though he dropped a shot at the penultimate hole he responded at the last to close on his second win of the season, and the 76th of his career.
McDowell eagled the first and picked up further shots at the third and sixth to stay hot on the heels of the world number two up to the turn.
Things did not go so smoothly on the back nine, with a bogey at 11 and a double-bogey six at the 14th, but he undid some of the damage at the 16th.
Having driven almost 320 yards to the fringe of the green, McDowell chipped in from around 20 feet for a superb eagle on the par four.
But he failed to take advantage of Woods’ error at 17 when his birdie putt stayed up, and a monster birdie attempt at the last also refused to drop.
Woods said: “After I made birdie on 15, I was looking pretty good with a six-shot lead, and with a drivable par four.
“Two holes later, it’s now cut down to three. I piped a tee shot down there, hit a little nine-iron and was able to pour that putt in.”
McDowell added: “The three-putt on 10 kind of rattled me a little bit, because Tiger didn’t look like he was going to do anything wrong.
“I really felt like I needed to be making putts like that.”
The former took a double-bogey six at the third to cancel out his two front-side birdies, but picked up three more shots in an unblemished inward nine.
Stricker opened the back nine with his third birdie of the day, offset only by a dropped shot at the seventh, and another bogey at 15 was immediately cancelled out at the next.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia birdied two of the last three holes to share fifth place on 11 under par alongside Michael Thompson — last week’s Honda Classic winner matching Garcia’s round of 67 — Keegan Bradley and Charl Schwartzel.
Westwood made four birdies in five holes around the turn but four bogeys dropped him to a one-under-par 71, leaving him three under for the tournament alongside McDowell’s compatriot Rory McIlroy after the world number one signed for the same score.