Ian Poulter has never had a top-10 finish at the WGC Bridgestone, so of course he is the 1st round leader at Firestone Country Club. Poulter fired a bogey-free 62 to take a one-stroke lead into Friday. The surly Englishman has had a career revival since last year’s PLAYERS Championship and has already notched a victory this season. Leaderboard
Only one man can be T-14 and yet still be the second headline on a newsletter. Playing at Firestone CC for the first time since 2015, Tiger was bogey-free until his 18th hole where he had to settle for a 66. He looked amazing on his first nine holes but had to grind coming home. I said on Wednesday that I didn’t think he had the consistency off the tee to win here, but he showed he can for much of Thursday. His iron game is the best on tour right now, and if he gives himself the opportunity, he will be in contention this weekend.
Back to our normally scheduled programming. Sitting just one shot behind Poulter is the pair of Kyle Stanley and Rickie Fowler. Stanley went out in the morning and was absolutely dazzling. He ended the day in the top 3 of strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained approach. If he gets the putter going, he will definitely stay near the top of the leaderboard. Rickie got on a roll in the middle of his round, making five birdies in a seven-hole stretch. Fowler has been one of the most consistent players on tour, but his only victory over the last 15 months was the 18-player Hero World Challenge.
This is a WGC, so it isn’t surprising to see a strong leaderboard, but this leaderboard is actually insane. Cantlay, Rahm, Rory, JDay, JT, Fleetwood, Reed, Koepka, Mickelson, and Leishman all shot 66 or better on Thursday. Add in Tiger, Rickie, Stanley, and Poulter, and we are set up for an incredible weekend.
A failed hypothesis?
One notable not in the mix is the quirky science gentleman. Bryson shot an opening round of 75 and finds himself in dead last. There is no cut this week, so he is guaranteed four rounds (assuming he doesn’t WD). We are getting down to crunch time when it comes to Ryder Cup points, and Bryson currently sits in 9th place, one spot out of the automatic picks. He has been in a bit of a mental pretzel lately, and it will be interesting to see if he can pull himself out of it.
Philip Alfred Mickelson
Phil Mickelson shot 66 on Thursday, and somehow that is the third biggest news in Mickelson World. We started off the morning with Mizzen+Main (Phil’s button down sponsor) releasing the following video. It is about as viral as a golf video can go, and boy oh boy is it incredible.
We then moved into the $$$$$$ portion of the day when it was finally announced that Tiger and Phil would play for $10 million on Thanksgiving weekend. The announcement has been long awaited, but it is cool to know that we actually have a date for it. Hopefully things go better for Tiger this Thanksgiving.
Women’s British Open
Minjee Lee is your 1st round leader after a 65 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. There is a slew of other women in the mix as well, with the biggest names being Sung Hyun Park (67) and Lydia Ko (68). Royal Lytham & St. Annes is great television, and I would highly recommend viewing with your morning coffee. Leaderboard
There is a 5-way tie atop the Web.com Tour in Kansas City through one round. Leaderboard
The Western Amateur is down to the top 16 for match play. Future Texas Longhorn Cole Hammer is tied for the lead while Collin Morikawa (Cal), Kaiwen Liu (Cal), and Brandon Wu (Stanford) made match play as well. Leaderboard