Thursday, 03 March 2016
Marcus Fraser  (Getty Images)
Marcus Fraser (Getty Images)

Marcus Fraser continued his brilliant recent form to take a share of the first-round lead at the World Golf Championships - Cadillac Championship.

The Australian claimed a first European Tour win in six years at the Maybank Championship Malaysia 11 days ago and then travelled to his homeland and secured a tie for 15th at the ISPS HANDA Perth International.

His globetrotting exploits continue this week at Trump National Doral, and he fired an opening six under par 66 to join American Scott Piercy at the top of the leaderboard.

The leading duo were a shot clear of five-time Major Championship winner Phil Mickelson, with Englishman Danny Willett, Australian Adam Scott and American duo Jason Dufner and Charley Hoffman all at four under.

All eyes in Florida had been on the three-ball of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy - who hold the top three places in the Official World Golf Ranking - but it was the unheralded duo of Piercy and Fraser who stole the show.

World Number 58 Fraser opened birdie-birdie from the tenth and added another gain on the 14th to turn in 33. Another birdie followed on the first and a hat-trick of gains from the fifth had him out in front on his own, before he found the water on the eighth for his only bogey of the day.

I felt like I did everything really well. Felt like I played really steady and I putted really well again - Marcus Fraser

"The greens are perfect out there. There's not a mark on them, so if you feel like you read them well and get the ball started on line, it's a good chance to go in.

"I felt like everything was pretty good today and felt like it was all around, I did a good job.

"I really gave myself a chance on just about every hole, which obviously you need to do on this golf course. I'm probably one of the shortest hitters here, so have to play the golf course fairly smartly."

Piercy, 48th in the World Rankings, had held a three-shot lead at one point and had just two blemishes on his card, one coming at the notoriously tough last after his tee-shot plugged in the bank of the water hazard.

Mickelson had seven birdies and two bogeys in his round as the 2009 winner chases a third WGC title.

Willett, searching for a second win of the season, turned in 32, the highlight of his front nine being a brilliant 22-foot left-to-right putt on the 18th for birdie. He then holed from 18 feet on the par three second but gave the shot back on the next and parred his way home.

Dufner, Hoffman and Scott all had three bogeys in their rounds of 68, with the Australian also registering an eagle on the tenth.

Speith was then in the group at three under alongside fellow Americans Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker, with Welshman Jamie Donaldson in the group a shot further back.

McIlroy changed his putting grip to left-below-right ahead of this week and while the putting stroke provided no problems, he dropped shots whenever he missed the green in regulation on the 13th, 18th and ninth to sit at one under.

Russell Knox, Shane Lowry, Henrik Stenson and Andy Sullivan were all also five shots off the lead.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1SCOTT, AdamAUS18-12
2WATSON, BubbaUSA18-11
T3WILLETT, DannyENG18-10
T3MCILROY, RoryNIR18-10
5MICKELSON, PhilUSA18-9
6WALKER, JimmyUSA18-8

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