AKRON, Ohio – Firestone Country Club proved a stern test Thursday, but in the year of the Aussie, another player from down under holds the lead. Here’s how things look after the first round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where Marc Leishman holds a one-shot advantage:
Leaderboard: Marc Leishman (-6), Ryan Moore (-5), Charl Schwartzel (-5), Justin Rose (-5), Patrick Reed (-3), Rickie Fowler (-3), Graham DeLaet (-3)
What it means: Leishman only has one PGA Tour win, but he contended on several big stages last year and is starting to heat up as 2014 winds to a close. Several big names got into red figures Thursday, though, including Rose, who has won two of his last three starts.
Round of the day: Leishman carded eight birdies against just two bogeys, shooting 3-under 32 on both sides. Though he hit only 11 of 18 greens in regulation, he made the most of his opportunities, needing only 24 putts to complete his round.
Best of the rest: Moore is on the U.S. Ryder Cup bubble, but after a 5-under 65 he has put his name near the top of the standings in Akron. The veteran made it around Firestone without dropping a shot, finishing his round with three birdies across his final five holes after starting on No. 10.
Biggest disappointment: Martin Kaymer demolished the field at Pinehurst just last month, but this time the German was on the receiving end of the punishment, opening with a 7-over 77. He didn’t make a single birdie all day, and his round included four bogeys in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 10-14 en route to an inward 40.
Main storyline heading into Friday: It remains to be seen who will emerge from a relatively crowded leaderboard, but one player who will have a chance to do so early Friday will be Tiger Woods. Woods opened with a 2-under 68, and will now turn around and play in the morning wave during the second round as he chases his ninth win at Firestone.
Quote of the day: “I drove the ball well. It makes this course a lot easier when you’re on the fairway. It’s pretty tough when you’re playing from the rough.” – Leishman