Ian Poulter produced his lowest round in eight years to open up a one-shot lead on day one of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
The Englishman carded eight birdies and no bogeys on Thursday afternoon as the world’s best players made the most of favourable scoring conditions at Firestone Country Club.
“When you shoot eight under par on a notoriously quite difficult golf course, you know, everything has to be right,” said the Ryder Cup star. “I drove it in the fairway a lot, I gave myself many looks at birdie, took quite a few of those opportunities. Hit a few shots real close and kind of obviously tapped them in. When I needed to make up-and-down, I obviously did that as well.
His opening 62 was Poulter’s best score since the 2010 UBS Hong Kong Open, when he posted a second-round 60 on his way to lifting the trophy.
American duo Kyle Stanley and Rickie Fowler were in a tie for second on seven under par after shooting opening 63s, while Spain’s Jon Rahm, American Patrick Cantlay and South Korea’s Si Woo Kim were then another stroke back on six under.
“I haven’t played this organised or this confident and solid in a while,” said DP World Tour Championship winner Rahm. “To only miss four fairways out here, to hit it as long as I did, and every time I missed the fairway it was barely on the edge. To only miss three greens, it was a very organised day. Had a lot of fun and I know it won’t be, but I hope the next three are as stress-free as I did today.”
Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, Australian duo Jason Day and Marc Leishman, Indian Anirban Lahiri and America’s Luke List, Kevin Na and Justin Thomas were all on five under as 13 players shot 65 or better in a single round at a World Golf Championships event for the first time.
Course-specialist Tiger Woods – an eight-time winner at Firestone – opened with a 66 to sit a shot further back.