AKRON, Ohio — So much for course knowledge.
Webb Simpson, playing his first competitive round at Firestone Country Club, shot a 6-under 64 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead in the Bridgestone Invitational.
It all came down to trust.
"Well, I knew it all through my caddie (Paul Tesori), who's been here so many years," Simpson said. "I just kind of had to listen to him."
Tesori has caddied for years on tour, for Vijay Singh and Jerry Kelly, in addition to being a pro himself.
"It's hard for us players to listen to our caddies, but he basically showed me where to go yesterday and told me where to hit it, where the lines were, what clubs to hit," said Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion. "I didn't feel like it was my first time because he has so much experience here."
Seven-time Bridgestone winner Tiger Woods did not have to rely so much on the man on his bag, Joe LaCava, while shooting a 66. Woods has 11 top-10 finishes in his 13 starts at the course, so he clearly knows where to go.
Still, he needed his counsel from time to time.
"I hit a lot of good shots. I had a really good feel for the distance today, and Joey and I really read the wind right today," Woods said after his best opening round at the course since another 66 spurred him to a one-shot victory in 2005. "We changed a lot of shots out there, and we both had a really good handle on what we were doing feel-wise with the wind."
Henrik Stenson was alone in second with a 65. Defending champion Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore and Chris Wood, another first-time entrant, matched Woods at 66.
Simpson had six birdies in an eight-hole span.
There was only one glitch.
"I wish I didn't bogey the last hole," he said after missing the green on the par 4 and failing to get up and down. "It's one area I've got to get better at. When I'm between clubs, hitting more club and swinging easy is where I've been struggling.
"You know, there's always something to work on."
Simpson hasn't won this season. He called his year "encouraging and frustrating."
"I feel like I've let a couple of tournaments go that maybe I should have closed out," he said.
Stenson started out birdie, eagle — hitting his second shot 243 yards on the par-5 hole to inside 4 feet. He slowed down from there, parring every hole except for birdies at the 11th and 12th holes.
He had more problems with his outfit than the course. He was breaking in a new pair of shoes and felt a blister coming on at the turn, so had to switch to an older pair that didn't necessarily fit with his ensemble.
|Minnesota - WP: C. Thielbar||7||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - LP: M. Banuelos||3|
|Stephen F Austin||85|
|Sam Houston St||69||FINAL|
|San Diego St||59|
|Utah Valley U||69|
|New Mexico St||69|
|Long Beach State||77|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||64|
|(25) Bowling Green||55|
|New Mexico St||65||FINAL|
|Coll of Charleston||70|