(Jim Furyk takes a drop on fourth hole at Trump National Doral -- Getty Images photo)
MIAMI - The early returns on Gil Hanse's renovation of the Blue Course at Trump National Doral were grudgingly favorable Thursday after a wind-blown and stormy opening round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Most players sounded like boxers who had to give their opponent credit for landing so many punches.
"Did I cuss the golf course today? A couple of times, I would say," Harris English admitted after establishing the clubhouse lead with a 3-under 69. "I think they did a really good job redesigning the golf course ... it's a tough golf course. I know Mr. Trump wanted a very tough test on the Blue Monster, and I think that's what he's got."
Blue Course eliciting blue language again? Got it.
English was just one of six players to complete 18 holes after a delay of 2 hours, 24 minutes. Four other players also were 3 under, but with holes remaining: Jason Dufner, Hunter Mahan, Francesco Molinari and Patrick Reed. Nineteen players were under par when play was suspended for the day at 5:57 p.m. Just four players had bogey-free rounds going, though none completed.
With winds gusting up to 30 miles per hour before a thunderstorm suspended play, the 68 competitors were just fighting to stay away from the new bunkers and water hazards that Hanse concocted at the request of new owner Donald Trump. Tweeted Billy Horschel: "Course was borderline unplayable today, some crazy stories about balls landing on green & going in water."
Mahan graded the new Blue, "a solid A-minus" seconds before adding that adjustments would be required. "It's 100 percent [harder]," he added.
"In general they have brought a lot of strategy into play on the golf course," Dufner said. "This used to be a golf course where you grab your driver on every hole, swing for the fences and play from there. You can't get away with that here at Doral anymore."