Webb Simpson takes a one-shot lead into the second day of the Bridgestone Invitational, his first visit to the World Golf Championships event. Tiger Woods, chasing an eighth win at the tournament, is two shots back.
Simpson had eight birdies, the most of the first day, in a 6-under-par 64 at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio,. Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who was second at last month’s British Open, is a shot back. Woods played his first nine holes in even par before carding four birdies.
“I’ve played terrible coming in here and I’ve played really well coming in,” Woods, who last won the tournament in 2009, told reporters yesterday. “For some reason this golf course, I just see it.”
World No. 1 Woods has won seven times in eight tries when shooting 66 or lower at a World Golf Championships event, including four times in five at the Bridgestone. He has 17 WGC titles -- the next most successful player in the series is Geoff Ogilvy with three -- and is chasing his fifth win on the U.S. PGA Tour this season.
Keegan Bradley, who won the Bridgestone last year, is tied with Woods, Ryan Moore and Chris Wood at 4 under par, a shot ahead of a group of six players that includes Jim Furyk, Luke Donald and Bubba Watson. Phil Mickelson, who won the British Open 12 days ago, is 2 over par.
“I had a hard time focusing,” Mickelson told reporters. “Mentally I wasn’t sharp. I could tell I was a little bit tired or I just wasn’t able to see the shot clearly.”
The Bridgestone Invitational is the final event before the U.S. PGA Championship. The last of golf’s four annual major tournaments is scheduled for Aug. 8-11 at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. Woods hasn’t added to his haul of 14 major titles since the 2008 U.S. Open.