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Last year's champion Justin Rose leads a packed field as the World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship kicks off Thursday at the TPC Blue Monster in Doral, Florida.
The four-day, 72-hole tournament has an $8.5 million purse, with the winner netting a cool $1.4 million.
This is the fourth year for the Cadillac Championships to be held at the TPC Blue Monster, and its sixth year in Doral overall. Past champions include such living legends as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els.
Els has the Doral record, firing a 269 in 2009. Woods has the overall record, firing a 263 in 2002 when the tournament was held in Kilkenny, Ireland.
Currently ranked 65th in the world, defending champion Rose is coming off a strong performance at the Honda Classic, finishing tied for fourth at -3 and netting $226,200 for his troubles.
For Woods, who holds countless tournament records, Doral was a bad memory in 2012. Woods suffered an Achilles injury in the final round of the tournament, pulling out after 12 holes.
Although he still hasn't won a Major Championship since the US Open in 2008, Woods has been hot in the past 12 months, winning four tournaments, second on the tour only to world No. 1 Rory McIlroy.
With a hefty $1.575 million check awaiting the winner on Sunday, action was brisk during the opening round, with Woods nailed nine birdies, four of those from distances greater than 15 feet.
Woods birdied five of the first eight holes and overcame back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 13 and 14 to shoot two under on the back nine.
Woods is tied for the lead with fellow American Bubba Watson, Spain's Sergio Garcia, Sweden's Fredik Jacobson and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell.
With temperatures hovering around 70 degrees and virtually no wind, 15 men shot at least -4, including 2012 champion Justin Rose (-4) and Phil Mickelson (-5).
Meanwhile, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, fending off rumors that he and tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki are on the rocks, sits tied for 50th after firing a +1 opening-round 73. After firing an eagle on No. 1, McIlroy bogeyed the next three holes and made just three birdies on the round.
If you believe in statistics and trends, then there might not be much of a reason to watch the final two days of the World Golf Championship - Cadillac Championship from Doral, Florida.
It looks like Tiger Woods has it in the bag.
Woods knocked in eight birdies on Friday to shoot a 7-under 65, giving him a two-shot lead halfway through the competition. In his storied professional career, Woods has led the field 31 times after Day Two and won 26 of those events.
Woods has 17 birdies through the first two rounds, breaking his career best of 16 set back in 1999. He has a two-stroke lead over Graeme McDowell who fired a 5-under 67 on Friday. Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker are both three strokes back.
South Africa's Charl Schwartzel matched Woods' 7-under on Friday, going the entire round without a bogey to sit five strokes back at 8-under.
World No. 1 Rory McIlory shot his first round under par of the year, finishing 3-under on the day. McIlroy isn't much more than a footnote at this stage of the tournament, tied for 32nd at 2-under.
There are other players in the field at Doral this weekend for the Cadillac Championship, but sometimes it's hard to notice.
On Saturday, Tiger Woods shot 5-under thanks to seven birdies, giving him 24 birdies through three rounds and extending his lead to four strokes over Graeme McDowell heading into Sunday's final round.
Woods has never lost a lead of four strokes or more entering the final day of competition since turning pro in 1997.
Setting the tone early, Woods birdied the first three holes of the day.He overcame a bogey on No. 17 with another birdie, this one from XX feet out, to finish a round of 67, his "worst" during the first three days in sunny Florida.
McDowell, ranked 37th in the world, started the day with an eagle, but hurt himself with a double bogey six on No. 14. Another eagle on No. 16 got him to 3-under on the day.
Phil Mickelson also shot 3-under, despite a double bogey on No. 3 to finish the day at 13-under, five strokes off the lead. "Lefty" is tied for third with American Steve Stricker, who was also 3-under on the day.
Nine players in all are at least 10 strokes under par headed into the final round. American Michael Thompson matched Woods' 5-under as best round of the day to drop 11-under, tied for fifth with Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel and Keegan Bradley.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy shot a wildly uneven 1-under, suffering three bogies and one double bogey, but also stringing together five birdies in six holes. McIlroy is 3-under for the tournament and tied for 30th.
It was his least-dominant round of the four-day tournament, but still plenty enough for the title.
Tiger Woods' shot a 1-under 71 to wrap up the title at the Cadillac Championships at Doral, Florida, on Sunday, his 76th title on the PGA tour and second of 2013.Woods finished 19-under to beat American Steve Stricker by two strokes and claim $1.5 million and 550 FedEx points.
Woods birdied two of the first four holes and didn't hit a bogey until No. 16, by which time nobody was going to catch him.
Australia's Adam Scott, who started the day 12 strokes back of the lead, fired an 8-under 64, the best round of the entire tournament, to vault into a third-place tie alongside Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell.
The 32-year-old Scott birdied four of the first seven holes and eight of the first 14, and never hit a bogey to make the late charge.
Likewise, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy caught fire late to wind up tied for eighth, nailing a final-day 65 thanks to an eagle on No. 1 and five birdies.
As so many tournaments did for so many years between 1997 and 2010, the World Golf Championships - Cadillac Championship - had one theme replayed over and over during the four days of competition in Doral, Florida.
Woods either shared the lead or was the outright leader after every round of the tournament, finishing 19-under to win by two strokes over fellow American Steve Stricker.
The title is Woods' 76th on the PGA tour, leaving him just six behind legendary Sam Snead for the most tournament victories in a career. Snead won 82 tournaments between 1936-1965, a span of 30 years.
Woods has played for 17 full seasons plus the beginning of 2013, in which he has won twice. Jack Nickalus is third in tournament victories with 73. He leads Woods in Major titles 18-14.
On a course where double bogeys and eagles were commonplace, Woods had zero of either, instead playing a massively consistent game that saw him knock in 27 birdies against just eight bogeys. The 27 birdies included 17 on the first two days of competition, his personal best.
The tour continues in Florida beginning on Thursday, March 14 at the Tampa Bay Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida. Luke Donald is the defending champion.The Masters Tournament is now just one month a way, set to kick off on April 11.
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