Leishman all by himself at the top, 27 under par after day one of Bridgestone Invitational

Date: July 31, 2014

by John Fanta

The weather was almost as flawless as Ohio can offer and Firestone South was giving the field opportunities to move up the leaderboard. What more could one ask for on day one of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational?

"There's no real reason to not be happy."

Fittingly, those words came from Marc Leishman after a six-under 64 in the first round of the tournament on Thursday. The Aussie was the lone player in the field to compile eight birdies.

He only has one PGA Tour win in his career, coming over two years ago in the 2012 Travelers Championship, but Leishman's trying to keep that thought out of his head.

"On a tough course like this, it's going to be pretty easy not to get ahead of myself because there's so much trouble out there," the 2009 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year said. "I just got to try to keep doing the simple things." With two birdies on the day entering the 16th tee, Leishman began to find the breaking point in his round. He birdied the par-five hole, then followed with another on 17.

"Just because you're playing well doesn't mean you're going to shoot really low rounds," Leishman said. He bogeyed two times in his final nine, but salvaged the round with four birds.

As for the best in the world, it was an up-and-down day. Tiger Woods was "very pleased with the day." The eight-time champion in Akron double bogeyed the ninth, but his scorecard remained steady after that. Woods birdied twice on the back nine, finishing with a two-under 68. In all eight of his wins at Firestone, El Tigre has finished his first round with a 68 or better.

The Open champion showed why he can come away with the title with an exclamation on his round. Rory McIlroy, averaging over four birdies per round, nailed his fourth of the day on No. 9 to conclude his round with a one-under, 69.

Among the notable rounds of the day, Charl Schwartzel stood out with a five-under 65. Schwartzel, who started on the back nine, said a "great tee shot" on No. 2 was the key following a bogey on No. 1. "Sometimes after making a bogey, you lose some expectation, or you free up more." The latter of the two favored the 2011 Masters champion.

As for Ryan Moore, currently sitting at 14th in the Ryder Cup standings and looking to make a move into the top nine, a five-under first round gives him a great opportunity to contend for the tournament. And while the pressure of the Ryder Cup standings was brought up by the media, Moore shook it off. If he misses out on playing in the tournament, he said he knows he will have put his best effort out there. "I'm just playing good golf to play good golf," Moore added.

South African Justin Rose eased his way into contention for the top spot just as he has on tour throughout his past three appearances. The winner of the Quicken Loans National has three straight top 25's since missing the cut at The Memorial in late May. He's the third at five-under.

The player to watch entering Friday's second round:

The seventh-ranked player in the world was drawing a lot of buzz as he normally does from the fans, but Rickie Fowler left Firestone South on a high note on Thursday, birdying 16 and 17 before a par on the 18th to finish at three-under 67. He tees off at 10:10 am with Justin Rose

Leishman is the first to tee it up on Friday at 9:10 am, with Woods a little over an hour later. McIlroy and Matt Kuchar are the last two to go off at 2:30 pm Friday on what is expected to be on what is expected to be a sunny, 80-degree day in Akron.

For an audio recap of day one, go to https://t.co/yqhIGTAGlF.

Follow me on twitter @John_Fanta and @WSOUSports along with WSOU.net for complete coverage of sports for 89.5 WSOU.

Posted in: From the Stands, Sports