Jim Furyk set a blistering pace on Thursday at Firestone Country Club's South Course to take a two-shot lead at 7-under after the first round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Furyk shot an incredible 63 that even included two bogeys. It was a performance comparable to Adam Scott's opening-round 62 last year in Akron, Ohio, as the Aussie went on to win the WGC event. Furyk made the turn with three straight birdies on Nos. 16 through 18, and then converted an eagle at the uphill par-5 second. It was a red-hot round in which he carded birdies or better on eight holes.
Furyk has long been one of the world's elite players, but the signature moment of his summer was his struggle down the stretch at Olympic. This limited-field event boasts all the best players on the planet and a win here would be a huge boost heading into the PGA Championship at Kiawah next week.
As you'd expect at a WGC event, the leaderboard is loaded with superstar names. Bubba Watson was the clubhouse leader in the morning wave of tee times. He is three shots back of Furyk at 4-under, looking to build momentum to try and bookend his season with another major win.
Watson, perhaps the game's longest hitter, took advantage of the par-5s on the South Course's 7,400-yard layout. The bomb-and-gouger carded a birdie at the monster par-5 16th hole and then picked up an eagle on No. 2. Matching Bubba at 4-under was the world's No. 1 ranked player, Luke Donald. The Englishman, who is in jeopardy of losing the top spot if Tiger Woods wins this week, started his day with three straight birdies and looked to post an inward 30 before stalling out on his final three holes.
As for Woods, he finished with an even-par 70 in one of the last groups of the day. Woods has struggled mightily at Firestone the past two years. He finished in second-to-last in Akron two years ago, shooting an indifferent 77 in his final round. He'd start working with Sean Foley the very next week. Last year, Akron was his first appearance in months after injuring his achilles and knee at Sawgrass. It was also his first time playing without caddie Stevie Williams, who won on Adam Scott's bag.
With the drama of the past two years behind him, this is a track that Woods has historically owned and his game is in much better shape this summer. He's looking for his eighth win at the WGC event at Firestone, but he bogeyed three of his final six holes to drop back to even par. A bogey at the lengthy 16th definitely gave a shot back to the field and had Woods frustrated with his finish. He'll go out in the morning behind Furyk looking to gain some ground in the no-cut event.
For a live leaderboard, visit Golf.com.