Tiger Shoots 4-Under-Par 66 In Round 1 At WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
AKRON, Ohio – Scratching out a good round when your game isn’t sharp is the key to winning, PGA Tour players agree.
“You’re not going to have your best stuff all four days and it’s a matter of that bad day being 2, 3 under par instead of being 2, 3 over par,” Tiger Woods said Thursday after the first round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club.
After not touching a club for a week, Woods started with a 4-under-par 66, his best opening round on the PGA Tour since shooting 64 at the 2015 Wyndham Championship. Woods collected five birdies and one bogey, the latter coming on his final hole.
He accomplished it despite hitting only 13 of 18 greens and seven of 14 fairways, missing seven of the last eight.
“I kind of fought out a score today, which was good,” said Woods, who is tied for 14th. “I didn’t really have it with my ball-striking but just hung in there.”
Returning to the South Course at Firestone for the first time since 2014, where he has recorded eight victories – tied for the most in PGA Tour history, Woods looked right at home. Beginning on the back nine in calm, overcast conditions on rain-softened fairways with Jason Day, he tamed the side with a 3-under 32, dropping an uphill, left-to-right 50-foot birdie bomb from the front of the green at the par-4 18th.
It marked the fourth time in Woods’ career he has posted 3-under or better on the first nine of a PGA Tour event. He went on to win the previous three.
The second nine was an adventure. Wayward drives put Woods in scramble mode, although he acquitted himself nicely until the last hole.
Using a mallet head TaylorMade putter for the third consecutive tournament, Woods poured in lengthy birdie putts at the par-4 third and seventh holes. He finished with 27 putts.
At the par-4 ninth, Woods drove into the right fairway bunker, punched out short of the green, knocked a 60-yard wedge about eight feet from the hole, then pushed his par-saving putt.
“I just kept either hitting a pull or hitting a cut,” the 42-year-old Woods said of his errant tee shots. “I just couldn’t quite get a feel for it.”
Not that it deterred an enormous gallery.
“I’ve had so many great memories here,” he said. “Hopefully, I can have one more.”
Next year, the tournament moves to Memphis and will be replaced by a Champions Tour event.
“They’ve supported this event, and they’re sad, too,” Woods said of the enthusiastic fans. “I told them jokingly, just give me eight more years and I’ll be here riding that cart down the fairway with these guys (seniors).”
Day has played many rounds with Woods, who is something of a mentor to the talented Australian.
“He’s not too far away from going on a pretty big tear here,” said Day.
Given the favorable conditions — 45 of the 73 players broke par – Woods knows he must continue to produce low scores to contend. Ian Poulter was the first-round leader with a 62.
“It’s going to be one of those weeks, where we’re all bunched again, especially if it gets as hot as they’re predicting, where we’re going to be bunched,” he said. “At least this time I’m not as far back, but tomorrow I’ve got to go get it.”
On Friday, Woods and Day start on the first hole at 2:10 p.m. E.T. There is no cut.
Players wore yellow ribbons to show support for colleague Jarrod Lyle of Australia, who is battling leukemia.