Thursday, June 21, 2018

Simpson leads first round of Bridgestone Invitational

AKRON, Ohio — Webb Simpson, playing his first competitive round at Fire­stone Country Club, shot 6-under 64 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead in the World Gold Championship-Bridgestone Invitational.

It all came down to trust.

"Well, I knew it all through my caddie (Paul Tesori), who's been here so many years," Simpson said. "I just kind of had to listen to him."

Tesori has caddied for years on the PGA Tour in addition to being a pro himself.

"It's hard for us players to listen to our caddies, but he basically showed me where to go (Wednesday) and told me where to hit it, where the lines were, what clubs to hit," said Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion. "I didn't feel like it was my first time because he has so much experience here."

Seven-time Bridgestone winner Tiger Woods did not have to rely so much on the man on his bag, Joe LaCava, while shooting 66. Woods has 11 top-10 finishes in his 13 starts at the course. Still, he needed his counsel from time to time.

"I hit a lot of good shots. I had a really good feel for the distance (Thursday), and Joey and I really read the wind right," Woods said after his best opening round at the course since another 66 spurred him to a one-shot victory in 2005. "We changed a lot of shots out there, and we both had a really good handle on what we were doing feel-wise with the wind."

Henrik Stenson was alone in second with 65. Defending champion Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore and Chris Wood, another first-time entrant, matched Woods at 66.

Phil Mickelson, coming off his dramatic victory at the British Open two weeks ago, struggled with his concentration and shot 72. He missed two par putts inside 3 feet on consecutive holes early.

"(Thursday night) I'll get a little bit more rest and try not to do too much and see if I can come out (today) a little bit more focused," he said.

Rory McIlroy shot 70. "I just threw a few shots away around the greens," he said.

Nerves hurt Park

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Wearing a black rain suit and a soft smile, Inbee Park looked calm as ever standing before the imposing Royal & Ancient clubhouse just moments before she teed off in the Women's British Open.

Only after her unsteady round of 3-under 69 did Park reveal perhaps the biggest surprise at St. Andrews. She was nervous.

"But then once the round started, and especially playing so good in the first few holes, that really gave me a lot of confidence," said Park, trying to become the first golfer to win four majors in one season. "I didn't feel much pressure when I was playing during the round. I'm just glad that it's already started and I got the first round under my belt."

Park wound up three shots behind leaders Morgan Pressel and Camilla Lennarth. Pressel, one spot out of making the U.S. team for next month's Solheim Cup, caught a break when rain and wind never materialized in the afternoon. She made seven birdies.

Stacy Lewis, a former No. 1, shot 31 on the tougher back nine for 67 to be part of a large group that included former U.S. Women's Open champion Na Yeon Choi. Another shot behind were Paula Creamer, Catriona Matthew and Lizette Salas.

Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot 70. Cindy LaCrosse of Tampa shot even-par 72 while Tampa resident Kristy McPherson was another shot back at 73.

PGA: Josh Teater, winless on the tour, took the first-round lead in the Reno-Tahoe Open at Nevada, scoring five points with an eagle on the par-5 eighth hole and finishing with a two-point birdie on the ninth in the modified Stableford event. Gary Woodland and James Driscoll were a point back. Greg Chalmers followed at 13. Stuart Appleby and Colt Knost had 12, and 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman topped the group at 10.

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