No one loves a torrential downpour as much as golfers.
More than 30 of the 75 golfers in Thursday’s opening round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational posted scores in red numbers. After showers softened the course, players took advantage of the scoring opportunities, but no one did it quite like the Aussies.
Adam Scott’s bogey-free 8-under-par, 62, propelled him to the top of the leaderboard. He was just a shot better than fellow countrymen Jason Day, who posted a nearly identical, bogey-free round of 63 and now sits alone in 2nd. Geoff Ogilvy and Aaron Baddeley are also in the mix, currently six shots back of Scott.
There’s almost a major championship buzz throughout the Akron area. This WGC leaderboard is brimming with the world’s best, from this year’s WGC-Cadillac winner, Nick Watney, who shot an opening round of 65 (currently in 3rd) to Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson who shot matching 3-under-par, 67s.
In addition to the Aussie uprising, the youth movement also came out firing Thursday. Kyung-tae Kim, the 24-year-old out of South Korea, is playing in his first WGC Bridgestone Invitational and shot a 4-under-66. Keegan Bradley, 25, is one of the six rookie winners this year on the PGA Tour (HP Byron Nelson) and posted 3-under-par, 67. The 19-year-old sensation Ryo Ishikawa also shot a 67 and although he hasn’t had very much success in 2011, perhaps this will be the week he lives up to the hype.
Then there are your youthful golden oldies: Rory McIlroy, 22, and Rickie Fowler, 21, shot 2-under-par 68’s, as well as another rookie winner, Brendan Steele, 28.
But even in a star-studded field, throngs of golf fans hurried to watch Tiger Woods in his first competitive round back from injury. He appeared in command of his swing, his body, and even his emotions, which is a rarity for the former No.1 world ranked golfer. Woods was a perfect nine for nine in pars on the front nine and then found a bit of a spark on the back side with three birdies against a single bogey. Woods posted a 2-under-par, 68, and is now six shots back of Scott.
Meanwhile, Darren Clarke, champion golfer (and Guinness drinker) of the year, is tied for DFL honors, hacking his way to a 77, including an eagle from the fairway on no. 8.
If these ideal scoring conditions hold up, the only thing that will be raining in Akron will be birdies.