AKRON, Ohio — Rory McIlroy had his best friend on the bag and his best start on American soil in 18 months. For Jordan Spieth, it was more of the same with two long putts and another comment filled with bravado directed at his caddie.
Both opened with 3-under 67 Thursday at the Bridgestone Invitational, leaving them two behind Thomas Pieters in the World Golf Championship event.
Pieters, playing only for the sixth time since he challenged briefly at the Masters, holed a 30-foot birdie putt on his final hole at Firestone to finish a day of good scoring with a one-shot lead over Russell Knox.
McIlroy split with his caddie of nine years after the British Open. He decided to use Harry Diamond, who played amateur golf for Ireland and was the best man at McIlroy's wedding. It didn't have much bearing on McIlroy's game, which was fine.
"We both did the numbers, and I sort of consulted him a couple of times. Yeah, it was good," McIlroy said.
Spieth, now famous for playfully barking at his caddie, "Go get that!" after making a 50-foot eagle putt en route to winning last month's British Open, got back into contention Thursday with a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 5 and a 50-footer on the next hole that got him to 3 under. But he was in trouble at No. 8, well right of the fairway with trees blocking his view of the green. But he did see about a 3-foot gap way up in the trees. And he was feeling it.
His caddie, Michael Greller, got the yardage and came over to see what Spieth had in mind.
"I said, 'Michael, just put the bag over there, stand over there and watch this,' " Spieth said.
Spieth rehearsed his swing with a pitching wedge and pulled it off. "I split a hole that was 60 yards in front of me and cut it to get onto the green," he said. "It was really a cool shot. I was shocked I pulled it off."
Bubba Watson was in the 67 group. Dustin Johnson shot 68.
WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN: Michelle Wie birdied her last three holes for 8-under 64 and a one-shot lead after the opening round at St. Andrews, Scotland. Wie bogeyed the par-5 second hole, and that was the last of her mistakes. She shot 30 on the back nine to edge I.K. Kim for the lead. Lindy Duncan was another shot behind at 66, with Lexi Thompson among those at 67. "It's so gorgeous here," said Wie, who has not won since claiming the U.S Women's Open in 2014. "When the weather is nice, it almost felt like I was playing back home in Hawaii with the views and everything. I feel like I got extremely lucky with the conditions out there."
PGA: John Huh made his eighth birdie on his final hole to finish with 15 points and the first-round lead in the Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nev., under the modified Stableford format.