Akron, OH (Sports Network) - Webb Simpson carded a 6-under 64 on Thursday and
that gave him a 1-stroke lead after the first round of the WGC - Bridgestone
Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, is playing this event for the first
time. He didn't qualify two years ago and last year, he didn't play due to the
birth of his second child.
Henrik Stenson is alone in second place on the South Course at Firestone
Country Club after opening with a 5-under 65.
Seven-time champion Tiger Woods posted a 4-under 66. He was joined in third
place by Ryan Moore, Chris Wood and defending champion Keegan Bradley.
Jim Furyk, Luke Donald and Rickie Fowler, who have all finished runner-up in
the last two years, managed 3-under 67s. They share seventh place with Jason
Dufner, Bubba Watson and Bill Haas.
Simpson started his opening round with three straight pars from the 10th. He
drained a 17-footer for his first birdie of the day at No. 13.
Two holes later, Simpson converted a 20-foot birdie effort. He moved to
minus-3 with a birdie at the 17th. He made it two in a row with a 12-foot
birdie putt at No. 18.
The 2012 U.S. Open champion birdied the first and second, both from inside
seven feet to get to 6-under. Simpson stumbled to a bogey at the third after a
Simpson poured in a 30-footer for birdie at six and followed with a short
birdie effort at No. 7 to get to 7-under. He missed the green left at the
ninth, his last, and that led to a closing bogey.
"Did a lot of things well today and made a lot putts. Just played really good
solid golf. Unfortunately, I bogeyed the last hole. I missed a couple left
today with some irons shots, so I've got something to work on, even on days
like today," Simpson stated.
Stenson birdied the first from five feet out, then rolled in a 31-footer for
eagle at the second to quickly get to minus-3. He cruised to eight straight
pars from the third.
The Swede stuffed his approach inside two feet at the 11th and kicked that in
for birdie. Stenson's tee shot at the par-3 12th stopped within three feet and
he knocked that in for birdie to get within one of the lead. He closed with
six pars in a row to end one back.
"Birdie-eagle start, you can't get any better than that. Yeah, I feel I'm
playing nicely and just doing my job on every hole and not get ahead of
yourself, and whenever I missed I managed to save myself a couple of really
nice up and downs today, and yeah, I'm very pleased with the start," said
Woods nearly holed his approach at the 10th, his opening hole, and kicked in
his birdie effort. He found the rough off the 11th tee and that led to a
The seven-time winner of this event again traded a birdie at the 14th for a
bogey at No. 16. Around the turn, Woods made his move.
Woods birdied the first from six feet out. After making birdie at three from
inside two feet, he sank an 8-footer for birdie at four to pick up his third
birdie in four holes of his second nine. Woods made birdie at eight from seven
feet out to end two behind Simpson.
"It's one of those things where I was explaining to you guys yesterday that no
matter how I'm playing coming in here, I've played terrible coming in here and
I've played really well coming in. And for some reason this golf course, I
just see it. It's just one of those venues," said Woods about his record at
Firestone. "Luckily over the years I've taken advantage of it. I have played
well and I've scored well, and I've won my share of tournaments here."
Newly crowned British Open champion Phil Mickelson mixed five bogeys and three
birdies in a round of 2-over 72. That left him tied for 41st after the opening
NOTES: Former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy opened with an even-par 70. He had five
birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey in his round ... Masters winner and
2011 champ Adam Scott stumbled to a 3-over 73, while U.S. Open titlist Justin
Rose posted a 69 ... Hunter Mahan, the 2010 victor, is skipping the event
after his wife gave birth to the couple's first child last week.
The Sports Network