How it happened: Tiger flirts with 59, fires 61
Tiger Woods flirted with 59 during the second round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational before tying his course record with a 9-under 61 at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
Woods shot 5-under 30 on the front nine before starting his back nine with four straight birdies. But a par at the par-5 16th and a missed 7-footer for birdie at No. 17 ended his chances. Instead, he made a 20-footer from the fringe to save par at No. 18 and tie his course record of 61, which he set in the second round in 2000.
"I certainly could have done it (shoot 59). . . . It's one of those things where I felt pretty relaxed out there," Woods said.
"I've been in these positions before where I've gone that low. It wasn't out of the realm of being uncomfortable."
Woods stands at 13 under for the tournament, seven shots ahead of Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson.
Bill Haas and Henrik Stenson are another shot back at 5 under. Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy each shot 1-over 71s on Friday. McIlroy is 1 over for the tournament while Lefty is 3 over.
"It's the second day," Woods said. "We've got a long way to go. (The 61) it put me in a nice position going into the weekend."
Woods is looking for his eighth title at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but first since 2009. He's also searching for his fifth victory of the PGA Tour season, but first since the Players Championship in May.
Here's how Tiger's 61 unfolded on Friday:
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Hole No. 18: Par 4, 464 yards
Well, Tiger's chances at 59 are very slim now, as he will need to eagle the par-4 18th. He still has a shot at breaking his course record, which is 61.
• Hole wrap-up: Tiger doesn't like this tee shot, missing right. He then tries to carry his approach over the trees and doesn't get it high enough. His second ends up next the right grandstand. After a drop out the of the ground under repair, Tiger hits his third onto the back fringe. That was a nice shot. His next one is even nicer, as he rolls in the 20-footer from the fringe to save par and shoot 61, tying his course record.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 9 under thru 18 holes (13 under for the tournament)
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Hole No. 17: Par 4, 400 yards
After that par, Tiger needs birdies on each of his final two holes for 59. It's also started to rain a little harder, too.
• Hole wrap-up: Tiger pulls his fairway wood and it finds the left rough. He'll have a shot at knocking it close. And he does, sticking his approach to about 7 feet. He pulls the putt, though, and settles for a disappointing par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 9 under thru 17 holes (13 under for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Hideki Matsuyama birdies No. 17, his second straight birdie, to move back to even par for the tournament.
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Hole No. 16: Par 5, 667 yards
That one hurt, but on the bright side Tiger is leading by six shots and he still has a shot at 59, needing two birdies in the last three holes.
• Hole wrap-up: Tiger crushes his drive and it rolls into the left intermediate cut. He has a shot at the green in two, but it would be risky, with water guarding the front of the green. Tiger opts to lay up, but he hits his third shot from 90 yards long. He'll have 30 feet for birdie. He two-putts for par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 9 under thru 16 holes (13 under for the tournament)
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Hole No. 15: Par 3, 221 yards
That was a big par save, as Tiger keeps his 59 chances very much alive.
• Hole wrap-up: Tiger loves this tee ball and for good reason, it ends up about 9 feet short of the hole. That was right on line with the flagstick. The put doesn't break like Tiger wanted and he just misses it right before making par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 9 under thru 15 holes (13 under for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Chris Wood is now second at 7 under after a birdie at No. 17.
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Hole No. 14: Par 4, 467 yards
Tiger needs just two more birdies to shoot 59, and with the way he's playing, he might get that in the next few holes.
• Hole wrap-up: Another missed fairway for Tiger, as he misses right. He has to keep his approach low and under the trees, and he does. The ball rolls just onto the back fringe and Tiger will have about 35 feet left to the hole. He opts to chip and sends it a good 8 feet past. He saves par, though, finding the dead center of the cup.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 9 under thru 14 holes (13 under for the tournament)
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Hole No. 13: Par 4, 471 yards
Tiger now has three straight birdies and leads the field by six shots. He's also got 59 in his sights. The course record is 61, which was shot by Tiger in 2000.
• Hole wrap-up: Tiger misses just his second fairway of the round, and this one isn't good, hitting a tree. But he gets a great break. Despite bouncing back a little, the ball bounces into the fairway. From about 220 yards, Tiger lands his approach about 15 feet away to give himself another good look at birdie. He puts some pace on this one and jars it.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 9 under thru 13 holes (13 under for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: As Tiger continues to pull away, Henrik Stenson gets back to even par for the round with birdies at Nos. 2-3. Stenson is 5 under for the tournament.
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Hole No. 12: Par 3, 180 yards
Tiger continues his assault on Firestone. He's bogey-free through 11 holes and has one-putted all but twice so far.
• Hole wrap-up: Tiger's tee ball is a little long, but he'll have a 20-footer for birdie. The roll is perfect and drops.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 8 under thru 12 holes (12 under for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: A bogey at No. 9 drops Webb Simpson back to 5 under.
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Hole No. 11: Par 4, 418 yards
After two straight two-putts, Tiger notches his eighth one-putt, and fourth birdie, of the round at No. 10. He now leads by four shots.
• Hole wrap-up: Another fairway hit for Tiger, who then sticks his approach to 5 feet. He then drains the birdie putt for a ninth one-putt in 11 holes.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 7 under thru 11 holes (11 under for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Tiger's playing competitor, Hideki Matsuyama, is 1 under and bogey-free through 11 holes. He's 1 over for the tournament.
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Hole No. 10: Par 4, 410 yards
Tiger makes the turn after shooting 5-under 30 on the front nine.
• Hole wrap-up: After stopping his downswing and taking a step back, Tiger delivers a nice tee ball down the fairway with fairway wood. He follows with another close approach, this time to about 7 feet. And there's another birdie, as Tiger sinks the putt.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 6 under thru 10 holes (10 under for the tournament)
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Hole No. 9: Par 4, 494 yards
That's the end of his one-putt streak, but Tiger is still bogey-free and leading.
• Hole wrap-up: Big drive for Tiger, who smashes it right down the pipe. His approach lands right of the hole and he'll have about a 13-footer for his fourth birdie of the day. He just misses right and settles for par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 5 under thru 9 holes (9 under for the tournament)
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Hole No. 8: Par 4, 482 yards
Tiger notches his third birdie of the day after another close approach. His distance control with the irons have been spot on so far this tournament.
• Hole wrap-up: After bad drive at No. 6, Tiger loves this one. He smashes his tee ball down the fairway. His approach lands short of the hole and spins back. He has about 27 feet for birdie and he leaves it way short. He avoids the three-putt, though, by making the 3-footer for par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 5 under thru 8 holes (9 under for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Dustin Johnson holes out from bunker for birdie at the par-3 seventh. He's now 2 over for the tournament.
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Hole No. 7: Par 3, 219 yards
Three straight up-and-downs to save par for Tiger, but this last one was really impressive. Tiger's putter had been on fire. He's putted just six times in as many holes.
• Hole wrap-up: After a few holes where he's had to scramble to save par, Tiger sticks his tee ball to within 4 feet and gets back on the birdie train.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 5 under thru 7 holes (9 under for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Henrik Stenson, who didn't make a bogey on Thursday, is 1 over through seven holes today to fall back to 4 under.
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Hole No. 6: Par 4, 469 yards
Another big par save for Tiger, who still holds a two-shot lead on the field.
• Hole wrap-up: First missed fairway of the round for Tiger, who pulls his driver left. Will have a tough go at the green from there, and even more so after his ball comes to rest against a tree. He punches out before hitting his third shot on the green. From 22 feet, he saves par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 4 under thru 6 holes (8 under for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: A birdie at the par-4 third hole moves Webb Simpson to 7 under.
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Hole No. 5: Par 3, 200 yards
Well, he makes his first par of the day to end the hot streak, but he still has just four putts through four holes after that nice up-and-down at No. 4.
• Hole wrap-up: Tiger's tee shot misses left and finds a greenside bunker. He gets up-and-down again, though, blasting it to within 3 feet and cleaning up for par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 4 under thru 5 holes (8 under for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy each shot 1-over 71 today. Lefty is 3 over an Rory is 1 over for the tournament.
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Hole No. 4: Par 4, 471 yards
There's no question Tiger is dialed in right now. If he continues to play like this, we could see something special today.
• Hole wrap-up: Another split fairway for Woods off the tee. His approach is a bit unlucky as Tiger hits it over the green after having a little mud on his ball. He then chips to a foot, though, and settles for par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 4 under thru 4 holes (8 under for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: John Merrick is in with a 4-under 66, the best completed round of the day so far.
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Hole No. 3: Par 4, 442 yards
What a start by Tiger. Oh, and he birdied Nos. 3-4 on Thursday.
• Hole wrap-up: Tiger's drive finds the fairway, and he's about 50 yards ahead of where he was off the tee in the first round. Just a wedge in and Tiger leaves himself about 12 feet for birdie. This one falls, as well.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 4 under thru 3 holes (8 under for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Jason Dufner is off to a hot start, too. He's 2 under through four holes, and is 5 under overall.
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Hole No. 2: Par 5, 526 yards
Tiger picks up where he left off Thursday by sticking his approach close on the opening hole. Now he'll get the first of two par-5s here at Firestone. Woods was 1 over on the par-5s in the first round. A little rain is starting to fall, though.
• Hole wrap-up: Tiger again finds the middle of the fairway off the tee. He goes for the green in two with iron and finds the center of the green, about 20 feet away. He has that for eagle and he drains it.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 3 under thru 2 holes (7 under for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: After a bogey at No. 7, Keegan Bradley drops to 6 under, meaning Tiger leads outright.
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Hole No. 1: Par 4, 399 yards
Tiger is wearing a blue shirt and grey slacks. His hat, belt and shoes are all white. He'll begin his round on the front nine. He birdied No. 1 on Thursday.
• Hole wrap-up: Tiger goes with iron off the tee and finds the middle of the fairway. He sticks his approach to 3 feet and makes birdie.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under thru 1 hole (5 under for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Bill Haas just wrapped up a 2-under 68. He's 5 under, two back of current leader Keegan Bradley, who is 3 under through 14 holes today.
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Update No. 8: 12:36 p.m.
The PGA Championship is next week, but we already know who Tiger Woods will be playing with. Click here to find out who Tiger is paired with for the first two rounds at Oak Hill.
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Update No. 7: 12:15 p.m.
Keegan Bradley birdies the par-4 18th to move into sole possession of the lead at 7 under. Bradley, who has yet to make a birdie through 27 holes of this tournament, is 3 under through nine holes today as he heads to the front nine.
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Update No. 6: 12:01 p.m.
Bill Haas, who won the AT&T National earlier this summer, is 2 under through 12 holes today. He's 5 under overall, a shot back of leaders Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley. Simpson tees off at 1:40 p.m.
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Update No. 5: 11:41 a.m.
Angel Cabrera is now 5 under through 11 holes today and has moved to 3 under as a result. Also, Keegan Bradley remains tied for the lead at 6 under. He's 2 under through seven holes.
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Update No. 4: 11:30 a.m.
A birdie at the par-4 17th moves Phil Mickelson to 1 over for the tournament.
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Update No. 3: 11:16 a.m.
Brandt Snedeker and Phil Mickelson each carded 2-over 72s on Thursday. So far today, Snedeker is 1 under through eight holes and Mickelson is even through seven. Lefty just birdied the par-5 16th to move back to 2 over overall.
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Update No. 2: 10:52 a.m.
Four straight birdies, and five in the last six holes, have Angel Cabrera at 4 under through eight holes today. Cabrera is 2 under overall after a 2-under 72 on Thursday.
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Update No. 1: 10:37 a.m.
Tiger Woods is still about two-and-a-half hours away from teeing off in the second round. But Keegan Bradley is out on the course now. Bradley, one of two players to go bogey-free on Thursday (Henrik Stenson was the other), is 2 under through two holes and is tied with Webb Simpson for the lead at 6 under. Bradley is the defending champion of this event.
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After a few years of turbulence, Henrik Stenson is letting the good times roll.
Tiger Woods opened the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a 4-under 66 Thursday at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. But it was Webb Simpson who grabbed hold of the first-round lead following a 6-under 64.
Tiger Woods opened the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a 4-under 66 Thursday.
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Ben Hogan used to say that the driver, not the putter, is the most important club in the bag because it sets everything up. Decades later, the Hawk apparently gets no argument from slumping Rory McIlroy.
Tiger Woods has won seven times on Tour at Firestone Country Club. So it's no wonder the annual stop in Akron, Ohio, is one Woods looks forward to.
Brandt Snedeker will have a busy schedule between now and the end of the FedEx Cup playoffs. He'll look to capture his first major championship and defend his FedEx Cup crown during that stretch, too.
As a seven-time champ at the WGC-Bridgestone, Tiger Wood is a no-brainer pick this week. But a couple of our panelists are also tossing out some love for Adam Scott and Steve Stricker.