McGirt sets record early lead

WASHINGTON • William McGirt opened up a record three-shot opening-round lead at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday, but world No. 1 Jason Day and No. 2 Jordan Spieth are not far off the chasing pack.

The 37-year-old American set the tournament record for the largest first-round lead by firing a six-under 64, as he aims for his second win in Ohio in just four weeks.

He had won last month's Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, in a play-off for his maiden USPGA Tour victory.

"I don't know, maybe it's something with Ohio I like," McGirt said. "I hit a lot of good, solid shots and fortunately the putter was working for me.

"I missed a couple of short ones on the front nine, but I had eight putts on the back nine with three hole-outs.

"I don't think I have ever had this much confidence in my putter for this long."

Day shot a three-under 67 and is tied for second with Emiliano Grillo and Jimmy Walker at the Firestone Country Club course in Akron, Ohio.

"It was just kind of a weird feeling of a day where I kind of made some good pars, kept the momentum going, and all of a sudden I shot 67," the Australian said.

"I've just got to keep grinding."

Spieth is one stroke behind Day with a 68. He is tied with three others - Anirban Lahiri, Charley Hoffman and Rickie Fowler.

Dustin Johnson, who is fresh off his first Major championship win at the US Open, is also lurking near the leaderboard after shooting an even-par 70. He is tied with Japan's Hideki Matsuyama and England's Paul Casey.

McGirt, who is making his World Golf Championship debut, made six birdies and finished off his round with a 45-foot par save.

Spieth made several nice par saves to remain close to the leaders. He hit just one green in regulation on the front nine, but closed with four birdies.

He needed just 21 putts during his round and chipped in for par at No. 8.

"I'm really just searching for something that isn't far off," Spieth said.

"It's close. It's almost there. And when it clicks, we're definitely in business the way the short game is."

Defending champion Shane Lowry, who finished in a tie for second at the US Open two weeks ago, stumbled to a six-over 78.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2016, with the headline 'McGirt sets record early lead'. Print Edition | Subscribe