AKRON, Ohio — As a possible prelude to the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, which begins Sunday night, one of golf’s biggest names is again lurking just behind the leaders.
That fin in the water is Tiger Woods, who shot a 4-under 66 in the first round of the Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday, only 2 shots off the pace (Webb Simpson, 6 under par and Henrik Stenson, 5 under). He started on the back nine and played even golf until getting hot at the turn and making three birdies in four holes (coincidentally, the one hole he didn’t birdie in that stretch, the par-5 No. 2, is the easiest hole on the course). Although much of the bite to the aura of Woods surely has been lost the past few years, his waiting in the depths just behind the leaders, particularly at Firestone Country Club, can’t let the likes of Simpson, Stenson and company get comfortable.
“For some reason, this golf course, I just see it,” Woods said after his round. “It’s just one of those venues. ... Luckily over the years, I’ve taken advantage of it. I’ve played well and I’ve scored well, and I’ve won my share of tournaments here.”
Woods did avert danger after an errant tee shot on No. 9 left him way left — actually on the fairway of the 10th hole — and 188 yards to the pin. He stuck his approach 29 feet from the cup and two-putted for par.
“Hey, I count it as a fairway hit,” he joked.
Woods also mentioned he’s using his driver this week, saying he hit “quite a few” on Thursday.
McIlroy meets his goal
After a disappointing start left Rory McIlory 2 over par after 10 holes, he set the goal of finishing the day even par. Three birdies in a four-hole stretch beginning at No. 12 got him there despite a bogey on No. 18.
His longest birdie was a 20-footer on 13.
“I birdied 12 and 13, which got me back to par, then I started to hit some really good shots,” McIlroy said. “(McIlroy is) just trying to stay patient. I mean, we’ve got four days here, so no point in trying to be aggressive.”
©2013 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
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