Late bogeys cost Day early WGC lead
New Zealand’s Danny Lee upstaged the world’s best golfers to take the first-round lead while Jason Day was left to rue some late bogeys but remains in the mix at the World Golf Championships’ Bridgestone Invitational.
Lee, who recently won the US PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic in a four-way playoff, shot an impressive five-under 65 at Firestone Country Club’s South Course in Ohio on Thursday to set the top mark, one shot ahead of Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk.
World No.4 Day at one point held a share of the lead in the middle of the round but the Australian was left to despair over two late bogeys to shoot one-under-69 and sit in a tie for 14th.
Day, coming off his win at the Canadian Open, remained upbeat just four back in the 77-man lucrative no-cut event, especially as he battled a case of the ‘lefts’ off the tee but still stayed under par.
With a birdie on the fifth hole, his 14th, Day was looking good at three-under.
However, misses off the tee on both the seventh and eighth holes coming home would lead to bogeys and he almost added another on the ninth, his last, only to be saved by a great wedge from 52 yards to tap-in range.
“It was playing tough today. I think I am in a good place and I just have to keep giving myself opportunities,” Day said.
“I would have loved to get pars on seven and eight but in the end the par save on nine was important to keep some momentum heading to tomorrow.
“I hit a lot of close shots that I didn’t take advantage of, but it was a good opening round of 69.”
Fellow Australians Adam Scott and Marc Leishman were unable to negotiate the hard and fast course as well as hoped in rounds of two-over 72.
“I thought I played alright but the score doesn’t show that because I missed a couple of putts,” Scott said.
“I missed three or four putts today that if you were putting really well you would expect to make and I didn’t.
“But I know I have 36 holes to play my way into contention in this golf tournament and that should be no problem at all. “
Steven Bowditch battled to a 73 while Andrew Dodt and Nick Cullen finished with 77s to be tied 72nd.
In just his second appearance in a WGC event and first since a tie for 51st at the same course in 2009, Lee made four birdies in a seven-hole stretch through the middle of his round to set up his lead.
“It was a good day for me. I left couple short birdie putts out there. It’s hard for me to say that and it may sound a little bit too greedy, but I did,” the world No.66 Lee said.
“I was hitting it that good, and I was very happy with my result.”
American Furyk, who has nine top-10s in the event without a win and famously collapsed with a double bogey on the last hole in 2012 to hand the title to Keegan Bradley, joined Northern Ireland’s McDowell in equal second.
American Rickie Fowler and England’s Justin Rose share fourth at three-under-67.