McIlroy, Woods and Donald are paired for the first two rounds at Doral. (Halleran/Getty Images)
DORAL, Fla. -- Tiger Woods got the best of his playing partners in the opening round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship -- and just about everyone else, too.
Woods owns a share of the lead as he and Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald tee off in the second round (12:59 p.m. ET tee time).
How will Woods fare? Will McIlroy recover from an opening 1-over 73? Will Donald outplay them both? Share your thoughts below through the round and click here to follow them live.
DORAL, Fla. -- Tiger Woods made the first move.
Now can he keep it up?
Woods, who is playing alongside top-ranked Rory McIlroy and world No. 3 Luke Donald, made the first birdie of the group on Thursday when he rolled in a 20-footer on the par-4 11th.
The trio started the day on the back nine at Trump Doral, where all three made par on the par-5 10th.
Woods has won this event six times -- though only one of those was here with two more wins coming on the property before the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship moved here in 2007.
Though Woods has dominated the World Golf Championships with 16 career WGC titles, he hasn't won one since the 2009 Bridgestone Invitational. From 1999-2009, Woods had not gone an entire season without winning at least one World Golf Championships title.
Last year, Woods withdrew during the final round with an Achilles injury. He was 3 over on his round at the time (6 under for the event) and was on the 12th hole. It marked the first time in 12 starts he failed to post a top-10 finish at the Cadillac Championship.
McIlroy, Woods and Donald will play together Thursday and Friday at Trump Doral. (Halleran/Getty Images)
DORAL, Fla. -- With players being grouped by their position in the Official World Golf Rankings, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Luke Donald will play the first two rounds together at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.
How will they fare? Track their round live here and discuss below.
MARANA, Ariz. -- Maybe that double bogey from the desert at the first hole set the tone for what wasn't going to be Luke Donald's day. Scott Piercy was just too strong and too fearless as he took down the top seed in the Sam Snead bracket.
Piercy was 3 up after three holes thanks to Donald's double, his own birdie and another bogey from the Englishman. Piercy holed a shot from 228 yards for an eagle at the fifh hole to go 4 up, then won the eighth and ninth with birdie putts of 25 inches and 5 feet to head to the back nine in complete command.
A final birdie, this one on a 4-foot putt, ended the proceedings at the 12th hole. Piercy's upset win over the 2011 Accenture Match Play Championship winner was the most lopsided result of the week to date.
"I actually feel really relaxed out there," Piercy said. "Me and Luke's game are a lot different, and I feel like if I get things going, I've got a good chance of beating him. I played well, and he was off a little bit. That's why it looked so one-sided."
And make no mistake, Piercy, playing in just his second match at the Accenture Match Play Championship, was hitting on all cylinders. He hit 7 of 9 fairways, 11 of 12 greens in regulation and used just 17 putts.
"Scott played very well, I played just very average," Donald said. " I need to drive it well around this course. There's a few forced carries out there, and probably didn't drive it well enough today to put any pressure on Scott. But he was 7 under through 12 and just playing extremely solid, didn't give me really a look.
"I had a few opportunities on the greens, but for whatever reason I was just not making the putts today, and hence I'm going home."
SCORECARD STATS: Piercy made five birdies and an eagle over 12 holes. Donald made two birdies, two bogeys and one double bogey.
HOLES WON: Piercy won seven holes. Donald did not win any.
NEXT OPPONENT: The winner of the match between Steve Stricker and Nick Watney.
MARANA, Ariz. -- Luke Donald staved off the kind of upset bid that caught up with the world's No. 1 and 2 players late Thursday when he won the 18th hole to beat Marcel Siem.
Donald made six birdies, including a pair on the last two holes -- the first from 9 feet to halve the 17th and the second from 7 for the win. Three of those birdies had come on the front nine as the Englishman built a 2-up advantage.
But Siem, who was making his World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship debut, began to assert himself on the back nine. The pony-tailed German won the 10th hole with a chip-in birdie, the 11th when Donald bogeyed and the 12th with a 28-foot birdie putt to take his only lead of the day.
"I didn't worry because I was hitting good shots still," the Englishman said. "I hit a couple left shots on the back nine but drove it great today, hardly missed a fairway, hit a lot of solid iron shots and putted well. I obviously made it tough on him, too, and I just ... felt good about my game, so I wasn't worried when I went 1 down on 12."
Donald, who was the 2011 champion at Dove Mountain, answered with a 6-foot birdie putt at the par-5 13th to even the match. The next four holes were halved with a bogey, two pars and a birdie, before Donald converted at No. 18 for the win after Siem missed from 13 feet.
"I had to finish strong against Marcel," Donald said. "He pushed me all the way. He really played solid today. I threw six birdies in, but he had a couple chip-ins and holed some long putts and made it very difficult. It's always nice to get through that first round, and sometimes having a tough match is a good thing."
Donald faces Scott Piercy, a 4-and-3 winner over Paul Lawrie in his Accenture Match Play Championship debut, in Friday's second round.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- For the record, Luke Donald generally gives Michael Jordan six strokes a side when the two tee it up at The Bear's Club down in West Palm Beach, Fla.
"And that's usually not enough for him," the Englishman says with a smile.
Donald has known the NBA-legend-turned-voracious-golfer for several years. He's had a home base in Chicago for the past 15 years after electing to attend Northwestern in 1997. The two first met in the Windy City, where Jordan led the Bulls to six NBA titles, but their friendship has deepened in recent years.
"We live very close to each other now in Florida and play some golf together," Donald said. "His fiancée and my wife are good friends and we hang out a bit. It's great just to be around someone that was arguably the greatest of all time in his sport. Just to see how he reacts, his demeanor, see his attitude towards things.
"It's been nice just to spend a little bit of time with him."
Donald, who is making his 2013 PGA TOUR debut this week at the Northern Trust Open, knows a thing or two about being the best in his game, as well. He spent 56 weeks as the No. 1 player in the world and now clocks in at No. 3.
Donald certainly is showing few signs of rust this week at Riviera, where he finished second in 2010 and third in 2008. He made seven birdies in a round of 66 on Friday that pulled him within two strokes of Sang-moon Bae's lead.
"Happy with my score, obviously coming off a pretty good break, you never know with how you're going to deal with being back in competition again but certainly a big improvement today, ball striking wise and my short game has been very sharp," Donald said. "I've been excited about that. It's been a big key to my score so far, and, yeah, excited to be in the mix again."
As the questions about Jordan persisted in his post-round press conference, Donald smiled and was quick to point out that he "was in no way working with Michael." But he does relish the opportunity to pick the brain of the NBA star he remembers watching back home in England -- "he was clutch in every sitation," Donald says.
And the best advice Jordan has ever given him? It's common sense, more than anything.
"Most things he's said is play with what you can control," Donald said. "Don't worry about trying to hit the ball far. You're one of the best short game players; just concentrate on that. Nothing too out of the ordinary."
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Michael Jordan would be proud.
Luke Donald, who is playing just his second competitive round of the season, has surged into a share of second place during the morning wave of tee times at the Northern Trust Open. Donald, who opened with a 69, has birdied three of his first four holes on the front nine, his second of the day, to pull within one stroke of Sang-moon Bae at 8 under.
The Englishman, who has completed 14 holes and is tied with John Merrick, has gotten to know Jordan recently. The NBA legend has moved into an estate near where Donald is building a home at The Bear's Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. Jordan's fiancee and Donald's wife are good friends, as well.
"He’s good for the mind,” Donald told The Telegraph in the UK. “He’s been making sure that I’m ready mentally. It’s been good to pick Michael’s brains and find out what he was thinking about when he was playing basketball. He’s always trying to play mind games. He doesn’t like to lose.”
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- This week marks the third straight year Luke Donald has made his PGA TOUR season's debut at the Northern Trust Open.
The well-rested Donald has won six times worldwide during that stretch. He rose from ninth to No. 1 in the world in 2011 alone, spending a total of 56 weeks there, and the Englishman has never been lower than his current spot of No. 3 in the last 24 months.
So why argue with success?
"Worked very well for me back then," Donald said, thinking back to 2011. "And it's been a long year, the golf season, and it's hard to find breaks and it's hard to find time where you can actually work on your swing to try and make some improvements with your game.
"So I took a decent amount of time off, but I feel rested, feel ready to go. I've been working hard on the swing, and looking forward to starting again here this week. Riviera is always a great course, a great field, one of the classic golf courses we play all year."
Donald had sinus surgery in December but maintains he could have played in early January. He simply wanted the extra time to make incremental changes -- actually, he prefers the word "improvements" -- to his swing.
"I'm constantly striving to get the club in a little bit better position at the top, a bit more neutral, a little bit more deeper with maybe slightly more cup in the left wrist," Donald said. "And I'm always working on the downswing, trying to get my hands and arms a little bit more underneath me, so I flip left past impact."
Donald shot 67 in Wednesday's pro-am which had to be a positive. He also has three top-six finishes, including second in 2010, in his last six starts at Riviera, a shotmaker's course that should be right right down his alley.
While Donald was fine-tuning his game, though, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson got back in the winner's circle and Brant Snedeker posted one win, two seconds and a third in his first five starts to grab a comfortable lead in the FedExCup he won last year. So does Donald feel a bit anxious?
"Yes and no," he said. "I've been around the TOUR long enough to know that it's a marathon; it's not a sprint. It's been a long season. It's about positioning yourself. ... I think with this new playoff system in the last five years, it's not a money list title anymore. As much as the money list was a great way to define who was playing the best, the FedExCup gives you a chance; you don't have to be going in No. 1 at the beginning of the Playoffs.
"So again, I still feel I have plenty of events till then. Obviously Brandt has got off to a great start, and it's nice to see Tiger and Phil playing well. Any time you have the great players playing well, it inspires you to work harder and try and catch them.'
Luke Donald is one of a handful of notable players making his PGA TOUR season debut this week at the Northern Trust Open.
Three years ago, Donald nearly won at Riviera, finishing second to Steve Stricker. The last two years haven't been as kind to Donald -- he missed the cut last year and finished outside the top 50 in 2011. For more on Donald, check out his Top 100 to Watch in 2013 profile.
Others notables making their debut this week, include:
Sergio Garcia: This marks the second time in as many years Garcia has opened his TOUR season at Riviera. Last year, he tied for fourth at Hogan's Alley. In 2007, he finished sixth.
Graeme McDowell: This is the first time since 2009 McDowell is playing the Northern Trust Open. He's missed the cut twice and finished in a tie for 41st in his only appearances there.
Adam Scott: The 2007 Northern Trust Open winner has two finishes in the top 20 in his last three trips to L.A., including a tie for 17th a year ago when he also began his TOUR season there.
Ernie Els: The reigning British Open champ has already played three times on the European Tour. This is the latest Els has made his TOUR debut since 2008 when he opened with the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.