Rory McIlroy vowed to remain patient in his quest to regain top form after enduring another difficult day in Florida.
While playing partner Tiger Woods was powering his way into a share of the first-round lead at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, McIlroy continued to struggle with hsi all-round game as he laboured to a one-over 73.
A week after he walked out of the Honda Classic citing toothache, the world No 1 began at Doral with three pars but then bogeyed the next two before getting a birdie putt to drop at the 15th - his sixth.
He gave the shot back at 18, but he atoned for a wayward drive at the par-five first with a remarkable second to 18 feet and rolled in the putt for a welcome eagle.
However, he then bogeyed the next three holes - two of them with three putts - although he salvaged respectibility with birdies at the seventh and eighth to finish seven off the lead.
"It was a bit of a struggle to be honest," said McIlroy, who has promised never to repeat his walk-off at PGA National last week.
"I hit some good shots, I hit some not-so good shots. As I have been saying all week this is a work in progress, I am staying patient and I have another three rounds to work on it more and shoot a few good scores.
"I just had to play each hole as it came and shoot the best score possible. It was nice to sneak in a couple of birdies in the last three holes and make it look somewhat respectable, even though everyone seems to be going pretty low out there; it was a day where it was perfect scoring conditions.
"I wasn't putting as much pressure on myself and that's why I didn't get as frustrated. If I had played like that last week I would have been not so happy.
"But I understand it's a work in progress and hopefully it will come together soon."