Golf: Stanley grabs early lead but Tiger on prowl at WGC

Kyle Stanley plays his shot from the ninth tee.
Kyle Stanley plays his shot from the ninth tee.PHOTO: AFP

AKRON, Ohio (REUTERS) - Kyle Stanley shot a seven-under 63 to grab the early first round lead at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday (Aug 2) but was looking over his shoulder at some of the game's biggest names, including Tiger Woods, in hot pursuit.

Playing the back nine first at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, Stanley turned in a sizzling first nine including six birdies but cooled off after the turn, making just two more along with his only bogey to sit one clear of Patrick Cantlay.

Right behind the two Americans was a chasing back at five-under featuring PGA Championship winners Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy and Australian Jason Day, both with bogey-free rounds.

Lurking one shot further back, three off the pace at four-under, are US Open champion Brooks Koepka and Woods, who followed up a fine effort at the British Open, where he tied for sixth, with a solid start to an event he has won eight times.

Woods' comfort level was clear as the 14-times major winner rolled in a 50-foot putt at the 18th for a birdie that triggered a roar from the gallery at the midway point of his round.

The former-world number one was poised to hand in an unblemished card until a bogey at nine left him with a 66.

"I didn't really have it today with my ball striking but just kind of hung in there," said Woods.

"I missed the ball in the proper spots all day and made a couple of putts. I putted well today."