- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

DORAL, Fla. (AP) - Dustin Johnson was one of the few players who looked like he was having a good time at the Cadillac Championship.

The new Blue Monster is bluer than ever with all the water in play. Throw in a relentless wind with gusts that topped 30 mph, and it lived up to its nickname. That would explain how none of the four players tied for the lead, including Johnson, could manage better than 74.

It explains why Tiger Woods could follow his highest score ever at Doral by hitting three balls in the water, and still be only six shots out of the lead. It explains how Phil Mickelson could make three straight double bogeys and, like Woods, still be in the mix.

Brandt Snedeker was in the middle of the seventh fairway and chose to lay up short of the green. Bubba Watson laid up on a par 3.

“I like it playing hard,” said Johnson, who made three bogeys on his last six holes for a 74 to fall into a four-way tie for the lead. “Being 1-under and tied for the lead, that says something about the conditions, and also the golf course.”

It would suggest they were hard - both of them.

Matt Kuchar hit out of the rough to within tap-in range on the 18th for a birdie, giving him a 74 and a share of the lead. Hunter Mahan, four holes after making triple bogey, hit 4-iron to 5 feet for eagle that helped him salvage a 74 and a share of the lead. Patrick Reed made only two birdies in his round of 75 to join them.

They were at 1-under 143, the only players remaining under par.

NBC Sports is in the last year of its contract televising the U.S. Open. For one day, it looked like the peacock got two U.S. Opens in one year.

There were horror stories just about everywhere.

Johnson’s 9-iron landed on the green at No. 15 and wound up in the water. Webb Simpson played away from the water on the seventh hole, went left into the bunker, and his next shot came out of the sand and into the water he was trying to avoid in the first place.

It was like that all day.

“I felt stressed all day, because I knew every shot had ‘big penalty’ written all over it,” Mahan said. “It was a really tough day. There wasn’t an easy shot out there. One of those rounds where it could go south pretty fast, so you’ve got to grind it out and find a way to get a number up there and get to the weekend.”

Here are the gory details:

- Only three players broke par - Jamie Donaldson of Wales led the way with a 70, followed by Graeme McDowell and Chris Kirk, who each had a 71.

Story Continues →