AKRON, Ohio – Though Firestone Country Club tends to reward the most consistent players Tee to Green, Luke Donald is among the few golfers in the world who possess a strong enough short game to dispel that notion.
Donald’s world-class play around the greens was on full display Thursday at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, as the Englishman fired a 3-under 67 despite reaching just nine of 18 greens in regulation on the South Course.
“Today was a mixture of some really good irons and a few that I just need to tidy up a little,” explained Donald, who took just 24 putts in his opening round.
With birdies on four of his first eight holes, the former world No. 1 appeared poised to challenge Webb Simpson’s 6-under 64 from the morning wave. Three back-nine bogeys derailed that effort, but Donald still heads into Friday’s second round within striking distance of the lead on a course where he tied for second two years ago.
“The years I’ve played well here, I’ve scrambled well like I did today,” added Donald, who missed the cut in his two most recent starts heading into this week’s event. “It’s a demanding course; you need to hit fairways and greens. But if you miss it, you need a good short game.”