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A day to forget for McIlroy and McDowell

Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy endured their fair share of frustration on the opening day of their World Golf Championship bid.

McIlroy finished four over par after his first round at Doral in Florida while his fellow Ulsterman did marginally better, coming home at two over par.

McIlroy birdied the first hole, but his day went downhill after that.

The back nine proved to be particularly painful as the 20-year-old bogeyed three of the last five holes.

McDowell birdied the 10th, 12th and 14th, but his good work was undone by bogies on the 17th and 18th.

Padraig Harrington was leading the Irish charge at one under through 17.

South African Charl Schwartzel on five under was the early pacesetter with Robert Allenby a shot behind.

Meanwhile, the chances of Tiger Woods making his comeback in two weeks' time have improved with a report claiming that he has been talking with a former presidential advisor.

Contact between the world number one and Ari Fleisher, who since working for George W Bush has set up a sports communications firm, would presumably be to discuss an imminent return to golf.

The New York Post say they have been told by “two sources in the golf community” that Fleisher — brought in to try to repair the image of baseball star Mark McGwire as he admitted using performance-enhancing drugs — is now seeing Woods.

One of the sources allegedly told the newspaper: “They were in his living room this week going over a strategy for how to handle Bay Hill in two weeks.”

The Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando is on March 25-28, but Woods may first play the unofficial Tavistock Cup on Monday and Tuesday that week.

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