Tiger Woods shoots 4-under 66 to open Bridgestone Invitational

Yahoo Sports

Tiger Woods is near the top of the leaderboard again.

Woods shot a near-bogey-free 66 Thursday in the first round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. The round put Woods four back of the suddenly revitalized Ian Poulter, who fired an 8-under 62, and one back of the 65s that Jason Day and Rory McIlroy carded.

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Woods carded three birdies on his first nine — he started his round on the 10th hole — and birdied the two par 3s on his final nine. One of those birdies came courtesy of this putt on the 7th hole.

Bogey-free until his 18th hole

Woods went bogey-free for the first 17 holes but ran into a bit of trouble on the 9th hole (his final hole) when he sent his drive careening into a bunker on the right side of the fairway. He had to lay up out of the bunker and ended up in the rough on the left side of the fairway, forcing a tough approach shot to the green to save par.

He got himself a 15-foot putt to save par but pushed it right. Had he made the putt it would have been Woods’ first bogey-free round since the Greenbrier Classic in 2015.

“Overall I thought I putted well today,” Woods told the Golf Channel after his round.

Woods’ last win came at Firestone in 2013

A strong start at Bridgestone is nothing new for Woods, who is seeking his ninth win in the event and his first PGA Tour win since he won this same tournament by seven shots in 2013. The win capped off a five-win season for Woods. And now it’s been five years since his last win.

But it seems like a win in 2018 is only a matter of time. Woods was in contention until a disastrous back-nine stretch at the British Open two weeks ago and Thursday’s round is his third-straight opening round of par or better since he missed the cut at the U.S. Open in June.

Tiger Woods shot an opening-round 66 on Thursday in search of his ninth win at Firestone. (AP)
Tiger Woods shot an opening-round 66 on Thursday in search of his ninth win at Firestone. (AP)

It’s also the best opening round of Woods’ 2018 season. Add up the consistency over the last four weeks and the way Woods played on Thursday and you’ve got some strong evidence that Woods is going to win sometime soon. And given that Firestone is his personal playground, that win could happen as soon as Sunday. If it does, imagine how high expectations will be for Woods at next week’s PGA Championship.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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