Spaniard Sergio Garcia impressed in the early stages of the WGC – Cadillac Championship, yet Hunter Mahan and Fredrik Jacobson stood top of the leaderboard on the back of sizzling starts at Trump Doral.
Seemingly inspired by his countryman Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño’s fast beginning, Garcia looked in imperious form as he began his quest for a first WGC title.
The 10 time European Tour winner got going with birdies on the opening two holes of the famed Blue Monster course and followed up three successive pars by picking up another at six.
A par and birdie at the next two meant Garcia was four under through eight, just a shot adrift of Mahan - who was even more impressive in the early stages.
The American was a runner-up when defending his WGC Accenture Match Play title two weeks ago yet showed his class does not merely apply to that format.
An eventful front nine always appeared in the offing as Mahan followed an opening birdie by surprisingly giving the shot back on the second, a short par four.
Yet that had little effect as the 30 year old gained strokes on five of the next six, completing an outward 31 by parring the last following a fine up and down.
Jacobson’s round had proved remarkably less stressful with eagles on eight and 10 combining with birdies on one and five to offset a dropped shot on two.
Looming just behind the duo, though, was the ominous figure of World Number Two and 14 time Major Champion Tiger Woods.
Woods, a six time winner of this event, holed putts from 13 and 10 feet to move two under after three, only to bogey the next two holes. Undeterred, he picked up shots on 16, 18 and one to crank up the pressure on Mahan.
Garcia, Thaworn Wiratchant, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley were alongside Woods, while Graeme McDowell, Fernández-Castaño and Ian Poulter were among those a shot further back.