Tiger Woods might have been grateful to hear the horn sound and signal an early end to the first day of the WGC-Cadillac Championship as he struggled at Doral.

After a lengthy delay in the afternoon, play resumed only briefly before the players were called in a little after 6pm local time, giving Woods a chance to mentally regroup after dropping two shots over the 10 holes he managed to play.

That left him five shots off the pace, although it was a somewhat jumbled leaderboard with Harris English the only man in the top 10 to have made it as far as the clubhouse.

He carded a three-under 69, sharing first place with Jason Dufner, Hunter Mahan, Francesco Molinari and Patrick Reed, with Dufner the closest of those to having finished after reaching the 16th.

Dufner had set the early pace with five birdies over his opening 10 holes before the first suspension of play.

Reed was three under after 11 holes but had two bogeys amid his five birdies, costing him the chance to take first place all for himself.

Australian Adam Scott - who has the chance to become world number one with victory in Florida, should Woods finish outside the top 10 - had been largely anonymous at even par until back-to-back birdies on the eighth and ninth left him one shot off the lead after 10 holes.

Rory McIlroy was having an up-and-down day, starting on the back nine and carding five birdies and four bogeys to sit two shots off the lead after 14.

Luke Donald had made much better work of the back nine, making the turn at two under, but he blotted his copy book with a double-bogey on the third hole and then dropped another shot on the fourth, tumbling into a tie for 20th place.

Woods, who failed to make a putt over three feet all day, accepted he had a long way to go in order to get back into contention.

"Should be a long day for all of us," Woods told the tournament website. "Hopefully (Friday) I can get back out there in the morning, play well and work back to even par by the end of the first round, then shoot a low one in the afternoon."

Despite his inconsistent form, McIlroy came off the course satisfied with his day's work.

"I said I'd be happy with anything under par from this round and I'm still on course for that," he said. "I'm happy with the way I played and I'd like to get something in the 60s.

"I played pretty good. It was tough out there though with the wind and the firm greens with the moisture on top. It was really skidding. So it was hard when we got back out to control the distance.

"You had to guess a little how much the ball would skip forward. I'll get back out in the morning and play the last three and a half holes without as much wind and with better conditions."