Woods, Singh Share Lead
Three days after the major-championship season ended, Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh played as if they still had plenty to prove by taking a share of the lead in the NEC Invitational at Akron, Ohio.
Woods twice escaped trouble from the trees Thursday but never came close to making bogey on a Firestone course that offered no letup for those coming off the PGA Championship. He made a 15-foot birdie on his last hole for a four-under-par 66, and later was joined by Singh and Henrik Stenson.
Singh had a chance to take the outright lead until missing a six-foot birdie putt on his 17th hole. He had to scramble from the rough to save par on the 484-yard ninth hole for a share of the lead.
Davis Love III carried his good play from Baltusrol into the first round and was among those at 67, and PGA champion Phil Mickelson was at 69.
“I didn’t hit it great today, but I left myself with some easier up-and-downs when I did miss, so it wasn’t so bad,” said Woods, who has never finished lower than fifth in seven appearances at Firestone Country Club.
Struggling with shots into the green, Singh saved par seven times from off the green and picked up ground on the opening holes, after he made the turn, with three consecutive birdies.
Stenson, playing in his first World Golf Championship event, looked as though he might steal the spotlight when he got to six-under par with a 60-foot birdie on the par-three fifth hole. But he missed the next two greens and dropped shots to fall into a share of the lead.
Defending champion Vaughn Taylor birdied six of his last eight holes for an eight-under 64 and took a one-stroke lead over Fredrik Jacobson and Todd Fischer after the first round of the Reno-Tahoe Open.
Guy Boros was another stroke back at six-under 66, followed by Aaron Baddeley, Jesper Parnevik and Duffy Waldorf at 67 at the Montreux Golf and Country Club in Reno.
Former British Open champion Todd Hamilton and Craig Barlow shot 68s. Among those at 69 were Ben Curtis, Joe Ogilvie, Jonathan Kaye and Paul Azinger.
Taylor claimed his only PGA Tour victory last year when he rolled in an 11-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to defeat Scott McCarron, Hunter Mahan and Steve Allan.
On Thursday, he made a 30-foot birdie putt on the 477-yard 15th and hit to within three feet for birdies on the last two holes to come within a shot of tying the course record of 63.