Tiger Woods could be well on his way to a ninth title at Firestone.
A 4-under 66 arose for Woods in Thursday’s opening round at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, as he surged into early position. When he reached the clubhouse, he was just three back and in a tie for eighth.
Woods has won this event – all at Firestone’s South Course – eight times in all, and his 2013 victory here remains his last (and 79th) PGA Tour win. If Woods is to break that drought, he is off to the start he needs.
Want to catch up on Woods’ strong first round? Look back on it, shot by shot, below…
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Hole No. 9: Par 4, 501 yards
OFF THE TEE (1:57 p.m. ET): A miss to the right for Tiger with driver here, and this one appears to end up in a fairway bunker. Might be OK there if he gets a decent lie.
SECOND SHOT (2:02 p.m. ET): It looked to bit a little bit of a fried egg with a high lip in front of him. So Tiger had to lay up. He actually does a poor job as this finishes in the left rough. Pin is right, so good angle. But Tiger will need to get probably a 75-100 yard shot from rough up and down to close out a bogey-free round.
AROUND THE GREEN (2:05 p.m. ET): That was tasty. Tiger gets this one to land just short of the hole and it bounds about 8 feet past. That is left for a great closing par.
ON THE GREEN (2:09 p.m. ET): Nope. Tiger walked after that one right away, as he hated it. A closing bogey, but that’s the day’s only blemish. Still quite a first round.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 4-under 66 (T-8)
Hole No. 8: Par 4, 481 yards
OFF THE TEE (1:44 p.m. ET): This is driver, and he misses to the right. That bounds into the rough and should be OK. The big stick has not been great today, folks.
APPROACH SHOT (1:49 p.m. ET): That was nifty! Tiger was aimed significantly left with an open stance and gouged this one out, pushing it right and toward the green. It works out wonderfully as the ball lands short and bounds onto the surface. This one finishes some 25 feet right of the hole. Great stuff.
ON THE GREEN (1:53 p.m. ET): That was right on line but comes up six inches short. After that drive, though, he’ll take a nice easy par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 5 under through 17 (T-3)
Hole No. 7: Par 3, 202 yards
OFF THE TEE (1:34 p.m. ET): Tiger didn’t get that to cut like he wanted, but he hits this one 20 feet left of the flag, beautifully pin-high. Should be another stress-free par at worst.
ON THE GREEN (1:40 p.m. ET): JUST got it! That ball trickled to the hole but just rolled in for another birdie. Tiger is feeling it at Firestone! With that birdie, he’s now T-2 and just two back.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 5 under through 16 (T-2)
Hole No. 6: Par 4, 477 yards
OFF THE TEE (1:21 p.m. ET): Finally! A driver in the fairway! This fade lands in the right side of the fairway, takes a soft bounce right and just stays in the short stuff. That is a pleasure to see after the wild ones he’s had with the big stick for much of the day.
APPROACH SHOT (1:27 p.m. ET): He hung this 6-iron from 171 yards a bit to the right, but this harmlessly finishes 25 feet right of the cup. Should be a two-putt par coming.
ON THE GREEN (1:32 p.m. ET): He hung that too far out to the right, but that leaves a foot for par. He taps in.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 4 under through 15 (T-4)
Hole No. 5: Par 3, 181 yards
OFF THE TEE (1:13 p.m. ET): An 8-iron here and Tiger loves it. Stares it down and for good reason, as this one finishes about 10-12 feet left and beyond the hole. A nice look for birdie upcoming.
ON THE GREEN (1:18 p.m. ET): YEP! That was actually a tricky slider from left to right, but he drained that dead center. Another birdie and he’s just three back again.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 4 under through 14 (T-5)
Hole No. 4: Par 4, 446 yards
OFF THE TEE (12:57 p.m. ET): Another driver, another wild miss. This one is well right, and looks like it hit a cart path and bounded even more right. So yeah, we’ll see…
APPROACH SHOT (1:04 p.m. ET): Tiger did end up having a path, launching one from out of the rough and amidst trees to the right edge of the green. Looks like he’ll have about 50 feet for birdie.
ON THE GREEN (1:08 p.m. ET): That was a fantastic effort. That ball has perfect speed and ends up just inches right of the cup. Nice two-putt par after a rough drive.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 3 under through 13 (T-7)
Hole No. 3: Par 4, 446 yards
OFF THE TEE (12:44 p.m. ET): This driving iron is no good. He pulls this into the left rough. It actually hops into the gallery and finishes in the rough. Better to miss left than right here, but regardless that was a poor shot.
APPROACH SHOT (12:50 p.m. ET): That’s a 9-iron from 177 yards with the ball well below his feet. Tiger digs in and tries to play a meaty draw. He leaves it out a little to the right, though, and implores the ball not to bury in the right greenside bunker. The ball barely bounds into that trap, and the lie is all good. A pretty simple bunker shot upcoming.
AROUND THE GREEN (12:52 p.m. ET): As we said, simple. He casually blasts this to a foot right of the hole. This will be a tap-in par.
ON THE GREEN (12:53 p.m. ET): Indeed, that’s a par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 3 under through 12 (T-4)
Hole No. 2: Par 5, 529 yards
OFF THE TEE (12:26 p.m. ET): The driver is the only thing not working for Tiger today. This is a huge miss left, Tiger calls himself a name we can’t repeat here immediately and then yells fore. This does end up in the crowd left and kicks left down a slope in the rough a little. He’ll have to get lucky to get an opening from down there. Not good on a really gettable par 5 if you hit the fairway.
APPROACH SHOT (12:33 p.m. ET): Tiger is not afraid. He tries to play a huge draw from way left over there, and goes full recoil. Unfortunately, that didn’t draw, but it appears to land only a bit right of the green. If nothing is blocking him, that will leave him a 30-ish yard pitch with plenty of green to work with to a back-left pin.
AROUND THE GREEN (12:37 p.m. ET): This was actually a lot harder than it looked. Tiger had a clear look at the green, but an overhanging tree forced him to go low from a tough lie. This one lands just short of the hole, but with no backspin races some 25 feet by onto the fringe. That’s left for birdie. If he can’t convert, this is clearly a missed opportunity on really what’s an easy par 5.
AROUND THE GREEN (12:40 p.m. ET): Yikes. Tiger hit that one really hard. It catches the right lip but still runs about 7 feet by. That left for par on an easy hole.
ON THE GREEN (12:42 p.m. ET): Good. Tiger calmly rolls that in with perfect speed in the right-center. That would’ve been a horrible bogey. You still want better than par on that hole, but he’ll take that par after what he left himself.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 3 under through 11 (T-4)
Hole No. 1: Par 4, 393 yards
OFF THE TEE (12:14 p.m. ET): Tiger takes driving iron and just pulls this one a little too much. This low bullet lands in the left side of the fairway and then just bounds into the left rough. Kind of looks like it dove into that rough, too. Hopefully not, but we’ll know soon.
APPROACH SHOT (12:19 p.m. ET): Tiger had to DIG that one out with a 9-iron, as he goes hard into that one and hits a lower-flighted one. This ball is right at the pin, lands 5 feet past and rolls about 20 feet to the fringe. About 25-30 feet beyond the hole for birdie. Pretty good from there.
ON THE GREEN (12:23 p.m. ET): A good effort but just a tad too far right. This cozies up next to the hole and he has an easy par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 3 under through 10 (T-6)
Hole No. 18: Par 4, 457 yards
OFF THE TEE (11:59 a.m. ET): Driver for Tiger, and he hates it. That is a dead pull to the left and crashes into that big tree over there. It appears to bounce straight back, which means Tiger may be in trouble. You can hear Tiger say, “That’s dead” after picking up his tee. Only good thing is pin is front-right. That gives Tiger a chance. We’ll see.
APPROACH SHOT (12:04 p.m. ET): That is terrific. Tiger had to hack a low draw from that rough, and he does so with brilliance. This ball runs up and just finds the front of the green. Maybe 50 feet for birdie. Fantastic result from there.
ON THE GREEN (12:09 p.m. ET): OH WOW! Tiger drained that for birdie. Wow what a birdie, and what a way to close a beautiful front nine. Tiger hit 6/7 fairways and 8/9 greens on this nine. He took 14 putts. Beautiful stats.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 3 under through 9 (T-4)
Hole No. 17: Par 4, 406 yards
OFF THE TEE (11:47 a.m. ET): It’s an iron here, and Tiger plays a low one down the left-center. This one finishes at the bottom of the hill in the fairway.
APPROACH SHOT (11:53 a.m. ET): This is brilliant strategy and execution. Tiger has this one finish 15-20 feet below the hole from 174 yards. That doesn’t seem fantastic, but this pin is tucked in back, so that is the good, smart play that still allows a good birdie look. This one was right on line, too.
ON THE GREEN (11:57 a.m. ET): That was always a good foot to the left, and it finishes maybe 2 feet beyond the cup. He cleans up for par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 2 under through 8 (T-9)
Hole No. 16: Par 5, 652 yards
OFF THE TEE (11:32 a.m. ET): Tiger goes for a slinging draw here with the driver, and this one is good. The ball lands maybe in the right intermediate, kicks left and catches the downhill slope in the fairway and goes another 40 yards forward. That’s good. Probably not far enough down there to go for this in two, but great position off the tee.
SECOND SHOT (11:38 a.m. ET): Tiger had 321 yards left, so this was indeed a lay-up. It’s a good one from TW, he loves it and this finishes right in the center of the fairway, less than 100 yards to the hole.
THIRD SHOT (11:40 a.m. ET): Tiger lands this one right over the hole, maybe 4 feet past, and the ball takes a great deal of backspin and finishes 10 feet under the hole. Another great birdie look, TW needs to start taking advantage of these.
ON THE GREEN (11:44 a.m. ET): Perfect read, and another birdie. That one looked like it might miss left but took a nice right break in the last three feet and dropped left-center. A huge birdie after missing a few opportunities. Tiger is now one back of second place. Kyle Stanley is the leader at 6 under.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 2 under through 7 (T-8)
Hole No. 15: Par 3, 217 yards
OFF THE TEE (11:21 a.m. ET): Tiger got aggressive here and got away with it. The ball lands on the left front edge of the green and takes a favorable right kick that sees the ball head toward the direction of the hole and finish 12-15 feet away. Another good birdie look.
ON THE GREEN (11:28 a.m. ET): A total misread. Tiger hit that right where he wanted, but the ball slides by on the right by a good half-ball. A two-putt par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under through 6 (T-13)
Hole No. 14: Par 4, 470 yards
OFF THE TEE (11:08 a.m. ET): That’s a 3-wood and it’s a beauty down the right side of the fairway. Tiger liked it and he should have.
APPROACH SHOT (11:11 a.m. ET): This one from 206 yards just carries the front bunker, as it lands on the front fringe no more than a couple yards over it. But that’s just fine, as the ball bounces softly onto the front of the green. That leaves Tiger about 30 feet for birdie. A good shot from there, Tiger even twirled a bit on that one.
ON THE GREEN (11:16 a.m. ET): That took forever to turn right, but it dove right late to come to rest maybe 6 inches left of the cup. A great lag putt, and that’s another easy par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under through 5 (T-10)
Hole No. 13: Par 4, 476 yards
OFF THE TEE (10:56 a.m. ET): Tiger’s first driver of the day, and he does not like this one. This one goes into the trees right, but it kicks out into the fairway. He’ll have a long second shot, but that’s a great break.
APPROACH SHOT (11 a.m. ET): TW had 203 yards here, and that’s a laser right at the pin, and the ball finishes 15 feet below the hole. A great shot and another good birdie look.
ON THE GREEN (11:03 a.m. ET): That was a mediocre putt, always to the left. But it’s fine speed, and he taps in for par from 18 inches.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under through 4 (T-6)
Hole No. 12: Par 3, 180 yards
OFF THE TEE (10:48 a.m. ET): This is another nice shot, it finishes about 20 feet below the hole. Should be a two-putt par at worst, maybe another birdie.
ON THE GREEN (10:53 a.m. ET): Well Tiger ran that one 4 feet by, but he calmly rolls in the comebacker for a par. All good.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under through 3 (T-5)
Hole No. 11: Par 4, 418 yards
OFF THE TEE (10:34 a.m. ET): Another TW 3-wood and this is another beauty down the middle. About 280 there down the fairway.
APPROACH SHOT (10:37 a.m. ET): Was Tiger still reeling from that opening birdie miss? Doesn’t look like it, as he stuffs this one to about 4 feet from roughly 140 yards. We should be in business soon.
ON THE GREEN (10:43 a.m. ET): Drain-o. Tiger is on the board with an early birdie!
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under through 2 (T-4)
Hole No. 10: Par 4, 410 yards
OFF THE TEE (10:22 a.m. ET): Tiger goes 3-wood here, and he gives a twirl as this one goes right down the fairway. Ideal start.
APPROACH SHOT (10:29 a.m. ET): Tiger takes wedge here and gets this one to spin to about 7-8 feet away. GREAT opening birdie look.
ON THE GREEN (10:32 a.m. ET): Nope. That one just slips by on the left and it’s a disappointing opening par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even through 1 (T-13)
Tiger tees off at 10:20 a.m. ET as he seeks his ninth title at Firestone. While we wait for that, we have some details on his $10-million match with Lefty!