MIAMI—Juvic Pagunsan fired a three-under 69 Thursday to stay three shots off the lead in the World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship despite terrible playing conditions at Doral’s Blue Monster.
Australia’s Adam Scott defied difficult, windy conditions to seize a share of the first-round lead with Jason Dufner with a 66.
Pagunsan, the Filipino ace recently given the Presidential Achievement Award by the Philippine Sportswriters Association, had to deal with even more problems as he battled fever for two days and had planned to play only nine holes in the first round.
But he plodded on and found himself in a better position than current world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and former No. 1s Tiger Woods and Luke Donald.
Pagunsan birdied holes 7, 10 and 12, dropped a shot on 13 and then got it back on the 16th for his three-under card, one of only 12 scores for the day that broke 70.
Scott, making just his third start of the season, had four birdies in his first nine holes and finished with five birdies and an eagle against one bogey in his six-under par 66.
America’s Dufner nabbed four of his seven birdies on his last nine holes, including a birdie at his last, the par-three ninth, where he hit his tee shot within three feet of the pin to join Scott atop the leaderboard.
“When you’re in the fairway on a day like today, you get a chance to hit it somewhere near the hole, give yourself an opportunity,” Scott said.
McIlroy, making his first start since ascending to number one in the world rankings, opened with a one-over par 73 that included a three-putt bogey.
“It was a pretty tricky day, but obviously there was good scores out there,” said McIlroy.
Woods, who finished runner-up to McIlroy in the Honda Classic on Sunday, tapped in for eagle at his opening hole but found the going tougher the rest of the way en route to an even par 72.
“It was just a difficult day,” Woods said. “The wind was blowing putts around, and it made for a very challenging round.”
England’s Donald, supplanted by McIlroy atop the world rankings this week, headed another group of eight players on 70.