Webb Simpson, who has not won since his breakthrough victory at last year's U.S. Open, holds a one-shot lead after the opening round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Simpson had it all working on Thursday morning on a soft Firestone South Course. It's the first time Simpson has ever played in this event, but he was sticking his approach shots and rolling that anchored putter. It looked like he would finish the morning session with a multi-shot lead, but a bogey at his last hole dropped him to 6-under for the day.
Henrik Stenson, the runner-up at last month's British Open, is just one back of Simpson. It was clear that the morning tee times had the advantage, as Firestone's greens were damp and receptive and several players were promptly in red figures. Stenson was 3-under after just two holes. It's been a long road back for Stenson, who completely fell off the grid after rising inside the top five in the world rankings following his 2009 Players Championship. This has been his best season since then, and he's now a good bet to be there on Sunday at all the Tour's biggest events, including next week at Oak Hill.
Despite those favorable AM conditions, just 18 of 73 players are under par. Given that it's a WGC event with 48 of the top 50 in attendance, the leaderboard is loaded with familiar names. Tiger Woods and 2012 WGC-Bridgestone winner Keegan Bradley are two shots off, while names like Fowler, Furyk, Bubba, Dufner and Donald are all three shots back at 3-under. Here's the complete leaderboard at the end of the first round:
|T31||Bo Van Pelt||1|
|T31||Miguel A. Jimenez||1|
|T54||Jaco Van Zyl||3|