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September 22, 2017

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4-way tie for lead after tough round at wet, windy Cadillac Championship in Doral

DORAL, Florida -- Matt Kuchar played out of the rough to birdie the 18th hole for a 2-over 74 on Friday, joining an exclusive group at the Cadillac Championship — one of only four players below par after wet and windy rounds at an unforgiving Doral.

Kuchar was in a four-way tie for the lead at 1-under 143 after two tough rounds.

Joining him were Dustin Johnson, who bogeyed three of his last six holes for a 74; Patrick Reed, who made only two birdies in his round of 75, and Hunter Mahan, who atoned for a triple bogey with a short eagle putt for a round of 74.

Only three players broke par in the second round. No one shot in the 60s. The average score was a fraction under 76.

"I don't think I've played in conditions this difficult in the U.S.," Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland said after a 71 that left him one shot behind. "It's an Open Championship day. It's a real Friday afternoon at St. Andrews in 2010 before they called it. It was hard out there — really, really hard."

Rory McIlroy (74), Francesco Molinari (75) and Jamie Donaldson of Wales (70) also were one behind at even-par 144.

Tiger Woods hit three balls in the water and scraped out a 73, thanks in part to a 90-foot birdie putt on the par-3 fourth hole. Phil Mickelson made back-to-back double bogeys, and then lay on his back along the bank of the fourth tee during a long wait. He got up, hit into the water and made another double bogey en route to a 75.

Both were still in the mix, only six shots behind.

"It's a tough golf course as it is," Reed said. "And with how hard the wind is blowing, it made it even tougher. Almost felt like we were playing at a major today."

At times, it looked even worse.

More than 100 balls found the water, which is everywhere on the course that Gil Hanse redesigned under the direction of new owner Donald Trump.

Trump described it as bold. It turned out to be brutal.

And just like a U.S. Open, there were plenty of complaints.

The greens were always going to be firm because the course was built in under a year. The sharp edges of fairways and greens sent balls down the bank and into the water. Throw in gusts that topped 50 kph and any score was possible on any hole.

"The setup is horrendous," Webb Simpson said after a 78 that included a bunker shot that went onto and over the seventh green and into the water. "Even if we had a 10 mph wind, it still would have been bad. I played terrible. I want to get that out there. But when you have conditions like this, and a setup like this, so much luck comes into play."

Henrik Stenson, part of the Nos. 1-2-3 grouping from the world ranking, had a 76 and joined Woods at 5-over 149. Masters champion Adam Scott, the other member of that illustrious trio, had a 73 and was at 4-over 148.

The forecast is for less wind on the weekend, and surely a sigh of relief from the players.

"We've all got a shot at it now," Woods said. "No one is going anywhere."

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