Furyk (63) leads by two

AKRON, Ohio — Jim Furyk made a detour to Florida to sit on his back porch and hang out with his kids as he tried to figure out why decent golf was producing ordinary scores. The short break appeared to help Thursday at the Bridgestone Invitational.

With seven birdies and a 30-foot eagle putt, Furyk shot 7-under 63 for his best score ever at Firestone and a two-shot lead over Lee Slattery of England.

The conditions were ideal: sunshine, heat, little wind along with carpet for fairways and smooth greens. It showed in tee shots on the South Course — 58 drives of at least 350 yards, including a 427-yarder by Branden Grace of South Africa — and in the scoring.

World No. 1 Luke Donald and Masters champion Bubba Watson were among those at 66. Thirty players in the 78-man field at this World Golf Championship event broke par.

Tiger Woods was not among them. He was 3 under after back-to-back birdies to start the back nine but had to lay up with his third shot on the par-5 16th after driving into the trees and ended his round with a three-putt bogey from 25 feet for 70. It was his second-worst start at Firestone, where he has won seven times. The other was a 74 in 2010.

"I think I averaged about four putts per hole, so it was a great day on the greens," Woods said sarcastically.

Since missing out on a chance to win the U.S. Open, Furyk has tied for 34th in two tournaments and missed two cuts, including last week in Canada. So he flew home for three days.

"I think more than anything I needed a little time to clear my head," Furyk said. "It wasn't anything that was going wrong, (but) why I wasn't playing better. I needed to come in here and quit concentrating on trying to be so mechanically sound and just go play some golf and try to score and get the ball in the hole a little bit. It worked.

"It's been a while since I made seven birdies and an eagle in a round. So it was a lot of fun."

pga: Andres Romero had seven birdies in a bogey-free first round at the Reno-Tahoe Open to take a one-point lead over South Korean rookie Seung-Yul Noh in Nevada. Romero, from Argentina, had 14 points under the modified Stableford scoring system that was last used on the PGA Tour at the 2006 International in Colorado.

Furyk (63) leads by two 08/03/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 3, 2012 12:07am]

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