Leishman takes early control at Firestone

Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:57pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Australian Marc Leishman, maintaining his recent good form, upstaged the game's biggest names as he charged into a one-shot lead in the opening round of the elite WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio on Thursday.

While eight-times winner Tiger Woods launched his title defense with a two-under-par 68 at a rain-softened Firestone Country Club, Leishman surged to the top of the leaderboard with a sizzling 64.

Leishman, whose only PGA Tour win came at the 2012 Travelers Championship, mixed eight birdies with two bogeys on the heavily tree-lined layout to finish a stroke in front of American Ryan Moore, South African Charl Schwartzel and England's Justin Rose.

"I feel like I've been playing pretty well for the last few months at least, and the results have been fairly good," Leishman, who tied for fifth at the British Open 11 days ago, told reporters. "I drove the ball well. It makes this course a lot easier when you're on the fairway. It's pretty tough when you're playing from the rough," said the 30-year-old, who has recorded top-11 finishes in three of his last four PGA Tour starts.

Italian Francesco Molinari, Americans Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler and Canadian Graham DeLaet opened with 67s in the third World Golf Championships (WGC) event of the year.

Most eyes, however, were focused on former world number one Woods, who has compiled an astonishing record of success at Firestone and romped to victory last year by seven shots.


Though still tournament rusty after spending much of this season recovering from back surgery, he was satisfied with the progress shown in his game after carding six birdies, two bogeys and a double at the par-four ninth.   Continued...

Jul 31, 2014; Akron, OH, USA; Marc Leishman tees off on the eighth hole during the first round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament at Firestone Country Club - South Course. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports