Tough Doral gets best of WGC field

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DORAL, Fla. -- If his back was bothering him or affecting his swing Friday afternoon, Tiger Woods had little time to dwell on it. The conditions at Doral were too windy, the ability to maneuver a golf club and stop a ball on a green a daunting challenge.

As the scores showed during the second round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, this was the kind of day on which a recreational golfer decides to go bowling. An average player wouldn't finish a round in such conditions, and the best in the world had their issues, too -- including Woods.

"That was a tough golf course today," Woods said after a 1-over-par 73 actually helped him move up the leaderboard on a day when there were no scores in the 60s.

Asked what was the most challenging hole, he quipped: "1 thru 18 right now. I don't know about the other players, but they were all pretty hard for me."

Woods, after an opening-round 76 -- his highest score ever at Doral -- finished at 5-over 149 and was six strokes back of leaders Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan. They were at 1-under 143.

"I felt stressed all day, because I knew every shot had 'big penalty' written all over it," Mahan said. "It was a really tough day. There wasn't an easy shot out there. One of those rounds where it could go south pretty fast, so you've got to grind it out and find a way to get a number up there and get to the weekend."

Rory McIlroy (74), Francesco Molinari (75) and Jamie Donaldson of Wales (70) were one behind at even-par 144.

"I don't think I've played in conditions this difficult in the U.S.," Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland said after a 71 that also left him one shot behind. "It's an Open Championship day. It's a real Friday afternoon at St. Andrews in 2010 before they called it. It was hard out there -- really, really hard."

Woods is tied for 25th. Given the slow start, the aching back and extreme conditions, the 73 was a pretty good result. Only seven players scored better.

"Just grind it out," Woods said when asked about trying to gauge where his game is at. "When we made the turn, I looked and there were only nine guys under par. Now there are two. So basically you've just got to hang around. We've all got a shot at it now. No one is going anywhere."

Perhaps of bigger concern with Woods is his back. He withdrew from the Honda Classic on Sunday due to back spasms, got treatment all week, didn't hit any full shots until he was on the driving range on Thursday, then had to play 26 holes Friday due to Thursday's suspended round.

Asked about his back, Woods said, "I'm a little bit sore right now. Long day. Long day. So [it will] be nice to get some treatment tonight and be ready for tomorrow."

Asked if the issues affected his swing, Woods simply nodded in the affirmative.

Woods was told that approximately 100 balls were hit in the water at Doral on Friday, to which he replied: "I contributed to that number. One of them was a perfect shot right down the middle of the fairway with a 3-wood. Just ran out too far."

He still managed to make a par 5 on the hole, but took bogeys at the 15th (a par 3) and the third (a par 4), where his ball also found the water.

But Woods got some revenge on the course when he holed a 92-foot putt for birdie at the par-3 fourth. It was the longest made putt on the PGA Tour in at least three years, and the longest for Woods since 2001 at the Tour Championship, played then at Champions Golf Club in Houston.

"It's just one of those things, I just tried to get the ball close," he said. "I can't remember the last time I made a putt from that far. Just one of those things."

Although he hit 10 of 14 fairways, Woods hit just 9 of 18 greens but made 26 putts.

"You just couldn't get the ball close," Woods said. "From that standpoint, it [course conditions] was right on the teetering point. I think some of the guys will probably be pretty upset about some of the pins. But if they were in better spots, I think it would have been fine."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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