For Zunic, just to be playing at Doral is a thrill
DORAL, Fla. (AP) Jordan Zunic shot a 3-over 75 Thursday in the first round of the Cadillac Championship, putting the Australian nine shots off the early leaders.
Not a great day, by any measure.
But you won't hear Zunic complaining.
Just being at Doral this week - or anywhere, really - is a huge deal for the 24-year-old, who nearly died after losing an estimated 40 percent of his blood in a car crash in Arkansas in 2013 and dealing with other injuries. Now recovered, though the scar on the left side of his face is a plainly visible reminder of the crash, Zunic is making his first appearance in a World Golf Championships event, qualifying for this field by finishing second in last year's Australasian Tour Order of Merit.
''It was fun,'' said Zunic, who opened with a pair of birdies. ''Bit of a roller-coaster for me. It's tough out there. ... For me, it was just a great experience playing under these conditions and I had a great time out there. For me, it's all a learning experience.''
It was a good week for Zunic even before he teed it up at Doral on Thursday. His father was a big-time basketball player in Australia, his brother is a highly touted player there now with hopes of coming to the U.S. for college basketball, and Zunic is named for Michael Jordan - so of course, he went to see the Chicago Bulls play the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
''Just the fact that I'm here playing against some of the best players in history and the current time, it's unbelievable,'' Zunic said.
HOFFMAN'S DAY: Charley Hoffman's first par of the Cadillac Championship came at 2:46 p.m., significant because he teed off more than two hours earlier.
To say his was an up-and-down start would have been an understatement.
Hoffman opened with four consecutive birdies, then went bogey, birdie, bogey, bogey before two-putting from about 20 feet for par on the par-4 18th, his ninth hole of the day.
His second par came on his 11th hole of the day, starting a stretch of par on seven of his final eight holes. Hoffman wound up shooting 68, tied for fourth and putting him two shots off the lead shared by Scott Piercy and Marcus Fraser.
DRY CLUB: Rory McIlroy created a splash last year when he tossed his 3-iron into the water at Doral after one less-than-stellar approach shot.
He didn't throw any clubs Thursday, but thought about it.
McIlroy feigned the motion after a three-putt in his opening round of 71, his first competitive round in some time where he tried the left-hand-low style that has worked for him in practice.
''One club in the water here is enough I think,'' McIlroy said.
McIlroy left some putts short, but said that was more him being unsuccessful at gauging speed than anything related to the change in his grip.
''Need to adjust for that tomorrow, but overall, felt like it was good,'' McIlroy said.
AN WET: The 18th at Doral is a menace of a finishing hole, and lived up to its billing Thursday.
Byeong-Hun An might have had less fun than anyone.
An took his shoes and socks off to play his second shot from the edge of the water lining the left side of the fairway, only to have that shot roll back into the water. He got his third back onto dry land but his fourth sailed into more water, this time near the green.
The shoes and socks stayed on that time. A drop followed, and An got up-and-down for a triple-bogey 7.