Poulter Leads at 62, with Woods 4 Behind
Ian Poulter was annoyed upon realizing he had never finished better than 13th at Firestone, so he took a step toward doing something about it Thursday with an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead in the Bridgestone Invitational.
Tiger Woods found himself fighting his swing. He settled for a 66.
Such was the difference of two players with vastly different memories on the stout South course at Firestone. Woods is an eight-time winner, already a PGA Tour record for most victories on one course. Back at this World Golf Championship for the first time in four years, he made a 50-foot birdie putt and two other long putts to offset some average iron play.
It was his best opening round of the year, and he needed it just to keep pace with everyone else on a soft and vulnerable course that led to 45 players in the 71-man field breaking par. The average score was 68.37, the lowest for the opening round at Firestone since it became a WGC in 1999 and the lowest for the first round of any PGA Tour event this season.
Woods had nothing to add to an ESPN report that an exhibition match against Phil Mickelson was scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. “We haven’t signed anything,” Woods said. “Nothing’s confirmed.” Golf.com reported last month that Woods and Mickelson, who have combined for 19 majors, 122 victories on the PGA Tour and 90 years on earth, were contemplating a winner-take-all $10 million match. The ESPN report early Thursday did not mention prize money, corporate support or television details.
The big thing missing for Minjee Lee in her impressive season is a strong performance at a major championship. She might get it at the Women’s British Open. The No. 8-ranked Australian shot a 7-under 65, including a right-to-left putt for eagle from 25 feet on the par-5 15th hole, to lead by one stroke after the first round at Royal Lytham. Mamiko Higa was a shot behind after a 66, while five players -- Georgia Hall, Teresa Lu, Park Sung-hyun, Lee Mi-hyang and Pornanong Phatlum -- were a further stroke back on a day that started with showers and a breeze before brightening up.
Postseason schedule set
The World Series, often called baseball’s October Classic, could end in October for the first time since 2014. The commissioner’s office announced that the World Series will start Oct. 23, and a Game 7 would be played on Oct. 31, barring postponements. The World Series ended on Nov. 2 in 2016 and on Nov. 1 in both 2015 and last year. The National League wild-card game will open Major League Baseball’s postseason for the first time since 2013 and is scheduled for Oct. 2. The AL wild-card game is the following day. The NL Division Series is scheduled to start Oct. 4 and the AL on Oct. 5. The NL Championship Series opens Oct. 12, followed by the AL the next day.
Alabama tops poll
Defending national champion Alabama is a unanimous No. 1 in the preseason coaches’ poll, with Clemson No. 2 and Ohio State No. 3. The Crimson Tide received 61 one first-place votes from a panel of major-college coaches in the poll released Thursday. The Associated Press media poll will be released Aug. 20. Alabama won its fifth national championship under coach Nick Saban last season, beating Georgia in overtime of the College Football Playoff national title game. The Bulldogs were ranked fourth by the coaches and Oklahoma was fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Washington, Wisconsin, Miami, Penn State and Auburn.