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Continued: In return from British Open win, Phil Mickelson has trouble regaining his focus at Bridgestone

  • Article by: RUSTY MILLER , AP Sports Writer
  • Last update: August 1, 2013 - 5:15 PM

At the ninth hole, his last of the day in a round of 66, he didn't exactly produce a classic stroke.

"It was a high, hammered snap-hook," he said with a smile. "I hit all of it. It was nice. It was beautiful."

The ball ended up in the middle of the fairway — the 10th fairway.

"Hey, I count it as a fairway hit," Woods cracked.

In the second round of the 2006 Bridgestone, Woods had famously hit an overcooked 9-iron that caromed high off a cart path and ricocheted atop the clubhouse roof at Firestone Country Club. He would go on to win the fifth of his seven Bridgestone titles.

Woods was asked if his shot on Thursday was ever in jeopardy of ending up on the roof.

"No," he said with a laugh. "If I hit that one from the middle of a fairway onto a roof, you could take my name off the bag."

___

YOU CAN COME HOME AGAIN: Jason Dufner spent the first 11 years of his life living in and around Cleveland, not far away from where he's toiling this week.

He played Little League baseball, made lots of friends and even walked the Firestone course during his younger days. Then his parents divorced and he moved away.

After a long and circuitous trip through golf's minor leagues, Dufner has made it to the big stage. He played in the Bridgestone for the very first time a year ago, finishing seventh. In Thursday's opening round, he put up a 3-under 67 on the board.

"I have some family and relatives and friends here that come out and support (me)," he said. "There's probably 15 or 20 people here. I hear a lot of good support out there. People know I was born here and lived here for a while and still have some family here, so it's always good to come back to Northeast Ohio."

Despite not spending much time in the area for more than two decades, he still feels at home at Firestone. He opened with rounds of 67 and 66 for sole possession of fourth place a year ago at the Bridgestone before shooting 73 and 68 on the weekend.

"That was about the same type of round to start the week as last year," Dufner, now 36 and living in Auburn, Ala., said about his first round Thursday. "It's a good golf course for me. It feels all right with my game."

___

MONSTROUS CHALLENGE: The signature hole at Firestone is the 667-yard, par-5 16th. In the days of wood woods when only the longest hitters could go 300 yards off the tee, it was a daunting task to even reach the green — with a placid but threatening pond in front — in three shots.

That's not the case anymore, although the hole Arnold Palmer dubbed "The Monster" — after he made a triple bogey in the 1960 PGA Championship is still a load for even the biggest hitters.

Now even those who can't play the hole can at least get a feel of what it's like to baby an approach shot to the undulating green.

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