Sat, Aug 03, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Simpson sets early pace

BLUSTERY START:Webb Simpson took the lead in the Bridgestone Invitational in windy conditions on the first day, followed closely by a string of serious contenders

AFP, AKRON, Ohio

Former US Open champion Webb Simpson set the early pace and his six-under 64 held up to take the first-round lead at the Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday.

Despite a bogey on his final hole, the par-four ninth, Simpson finished with a one-stroke lead over Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, whose round included an eagle at the par-five second hole.

World No. 1 Tiger Woods was among a group of four players sharing third place, two strokes off the lead at the Firestone Country Club.

Woods, a seven-time winner of the event, was joined at four-under by England’s Chris Wood, Ryan Moore and defending champion Keegan Bradley — who had four birdies and no bogeys.

Jim Furyk, Luke Donald and Rickie Fowler — who all notched runner-up finishes in the event — posted three-under 67s and shared seventh place with Jason Dufner, Bubba Watson and Bill Haas.

Woods’ effort included six birdies and two bogeys. He hit 10 of 14 fairways and all but two greens in regulation.

“It was a little blustery today,” Woods said. “Wind was up, greens were soft, but at least the ball was flying. And even though it was a little more wet because of the rain, with it being this warm, the ball is still traveling.”

Phil Mickelson, teeing it up for the first time since winning The Open, carded a two-over-par 72.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who will defend his PGA Championship title next week, recovered from a double bogey six at the par-four 10th to finish at even-par 70 for the round.

Simpson, last year’s US Open champion, is playing the Bridgestone for the first time. He qualified last year, but did not play because of the birth of his second child.

Simpson rolled in a 17-footer for his first birdie of the day at the 13th, drained a 20-footer for another at 15, and launched a run of four straight birdies at 17.

Simpson cooled off with a bogey at the third, but he added birdies at six and seven — sinking a 30-footer at the sixth — before capping his round with a bogey at the last where he missed the green.

“Did a lot of things well today and made a lot putts,” Simpson said. “Just played really good, solid golf. I missed a couple left today with some iron shots, so I’ve got something to work on, even on days like today.”

Stenson opened with a birdie, then drained a 31-footer for eagle at the second.

He landed his approach two feet from the pin for a birdie at 11, and birdied the par-three 12th from within three feet.

“Birdie-eagle start, you can’t get any better than that,” said Stenson, who did not have a bogey. “I feel I’m playing nicely and just doing my job on every hole.”

RENO-TAHOE OPEN

AFP, RENO, Nevada

Josh Teater had an eagle and six birdies on Thursday to take the lead in the USPGA Tour’s Reno-Tahoe Open with 15 points in the Modified Stableford scoring system.

James Driscoll and Gary Woodland both notched 14 points to share second place, while Australian Greg Chalmers was alone in fourth on 13 points.

Rather than counting strokes, the Modified Stableford scoring system awards eight points for double eagles, five for eagles, two for birdies, zero for pars and subtracts one point for bogeys and three points for double-bogey or worse.

Australian Stuart Appleby and Colt Knost both totaled 12, while 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman, Bud Cauley, Justin Bolli, David Mathis and Dean Wilson all had 10.

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