WGC Bridgestone Invitational: Red-hot Tiger Woods bursts seven clear at Firestone
Tiger Woods missed out on a magical 59 but still leads the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational by a massive seven shots.
Last Updated: 03/08/13 7:22pm
At a venue where he's won seven times, Woods produced some majestic golf to card an nine-under 61 - his joint career low round on the PGA Tour - and post a halfway total of 13-under.
That put him seven in front of defending champion Keegan Bradley and England's Chris Wood who both returned two-under 68s.
It's then another stroke back to Open runner-up Henrik Stenson and Bill Haas.
Two shots off the pace after an opening 66, Woods holed from three feet for a birdie at the first and 20ft for eagle at the second.
And when the world number one also birdied the third from 12ft he was suddenly two shots clear of clubhouse leader Bradley and first-round leader Webb Simpson.
Tiger kept pressing the accelerator and, after another birdie at seven, he reeled off another four in a row from the 10th.
That put him nine-under for the round and needing to play the final five holes in two-under to break 60.
Woods made par at 14 and 15 and also had to settle for a par five at the 16th after going too long with his wedge.
The 59 looked back on track after he put his approach at 17 to seven feet but he dribbled his birdie putt left of the hole.
With his hopes gone, a slightly deflated Woods played the 18th poorly but, with one last wave of the wand, he nailed a 25 footer for par to keep his lead at seven.
His 61 was the best round of the day by five shots.
World number three Rory McIlroy, looking to replicate the fifth place finish of last year which kick-started his season, had bogeyed the last in a first round of 70 and could only add a 71 today to lie one over.
McIlroy began from the 10th and opened with four pars before a double bogey six on the 14th, where a drive into heavy rough meant the Northern Irishman needed three shots to get himself out of trouble.
However, the 24-year-old had bounced back after a double bogey on the 10th yesterday and did the same again, holing from three feet on the par-five 16th and 15ft on the 17th for birdie.
A string of pars was followed by a bogey on the fifth, where he failed to get up and down from just short of the green, and a birdie on the eighth was also followed by a closing bogey on the ninth.
Open champion Phil Mickelson again failed to get anything going and a 71 left him at three-over - a massive 16 shots behind Woods.
The one consolation for the left-hander is that there is no halfway cut.