Sunday, February 25, 2018
Golf

Jimmy Walker takes two-shot lead at WGC-Bridgestone

AKRON, Ohio — The sun finally came out, and Jimmy Walker saw a glimpse of what he hopes are brighter days ahead.

In a year marked by coping with Lyme disease and bouts of fatigue, Walker endured rain delays of nearly five hours Friday and posted 5-under 65 for a two-shot lead going into the weekend at the Bridgestone Invitational.

The timing couldn't be better for Walker, who goes to Quail Hollow next week to defend his title in the PGA Championship.

"It hadn't been a lot of fun this year," he said. "But it's nice to see some putts go in and make some solid swings and keep rounds going, make par putts, just the stuff I haven't been doing."

He was at 7-under 133, two ahead of first-round leader Thomas Pieters (70).

Walker didn't have a lot going last year until he finished well in the Canadian Open, then went wire-to-wire at Baltusrol the next week to win the PGA. So maybe there's another spark he can find at Firestone Country Club.

But he has a slew of players not far behind him in this World Golf Championship event. Rory McIlroy put together a steady round of 69 and was three back, along with Zach Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama, who each shot 67.

The large group at 3-under 137 included Jordan Spieth (70), going after his third straight victory, and Jason Day (66), who is winless in nearly 15 months.

WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN: Top-ranked I.K. Kim emerged from the cold and wet with 4-under 68 to grab a two-shot lead in St. Andrews, Scotland.

Kim dropped only one shot in some of the worst conditions at Kingsbarns Links and reached the halfway point at 11-under 133. Lexi Thompson (68) and Georgia Hall (67) were tied for second.

Kim, 29, of South Korea atoned for her lone bogey with three birdies and an eagle on the 538-yard 11th hole. "The eagle was very unexpected," Kim said before conceding her drive landed on a friendly downslope and gained an extra 30 yards or so. "I think this was kind of as bad as the weather could get."

Perhaps the most significant move came from Thompson, the No. 2 player in the world.

Two-over par and birdie-free after nine holes, the big-hitting Floridian from Coral Springs played the homeward nine in 30 with six birdies — five in succession. She also found time to add a new phrase to golf's already voluminous terminology. "I ball-striked it out there," she said.

First-round leader Michelle Wie made one birdie in her 76, putting her seven shots back.

CHAMPIONS: Two-time tournament winner Kenny Perry shot 7-under 65 for a share of the lead with Mike Goodes after the first round of the 3M Championship in Blaine, Minn. Scott Verplank, Marco Dawson, Gene Sauers and Jay Haas were 6 under. Tour leader Bernhard Langer, who has won four of his first 13 starts in 2017 and has four other top-three finishes, shot 69.

CURRY ROUND 2: Warriors guard Stephen Curry was certain to miss the cut in his first venture into pro golf, playing in the Ellie Mae Classic on the Web.com Tour. Curry, who opened with 4-over 74 Thursday in Hayward, Calif., shot 39 on the front nine Friday. He was 8 over for the tournament with six holes left and was well below the projected cut. "That was awesome what he did (Thursday)," Spieth said from the Bridgestone Invitational. "I think he certainly beat most everybody's expectations."

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