By now we’re all aware the Tiger Woods has enjoyed better than average success at the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational throughout his career – if you can call seven wins from 1999 to 2009 “better than average”. Even though he is a very different player than he was during that stretch, Woods is certainly no less talented than he was a few years ago.
Woods opened up with a competitive opening round 66 at Firestone Country Club. His four under par score puts him just two shots shy of first round leader Webb Simpson and in a tie for third place with Ryan Moore, Keegan Bradley and Chris Wood. Henrik Stenson sits alone in second place after the first 18 holes.
Tiger birdied his opening hole and followed that quickly with a bogey on the 11th (his second hole of the day). He finished his first nine at even par, adding another birdie and one more bogey. He really turned things around during the second half of his round, however. He didn’t pick up a single bogey over those nine holes and added four birdies on the front nine.
He managed to salvage several opportunities by hitting 89 percent of greens in regulation but only 66 percent of fairways. That’s generally not how things work at Firestone, and if he wants to remain in contention Woods is going to have to hit more fairways over the next 54 holes. “I feel comfortable on this golf course, and I think that’s the key. I’ve played it when it’s been baked out and fast and is hard and other times when it’s soft and slow. And the guys are saying it’s a little bit softer right now, but the greens are up to speed.”
Based on the previous four events he has won this year, Woods is right on track to pick up his fifth victory of the year. In his victories, his average first round score is 66.8 and in events he didn’t win Woods carded an average score of 68.8 in the first round.
Even Tiger himself doesn’t have an explanation as to why he performs so well at this track. “For some reason with this golf course, I just see it. It’s just one of those venues,” he said. We’ll have to stay tuned to see if he remains in the zone or if he falters badly at some point over the next three days.