By Thomas Dodd

  • William McGirt shoots opening round 64, leads by 3
  • World no 1 Jason Day among chasers
  • 59 players in the field for event at Firestone Country Club

Akron, Ohio, USA – American William McGirt fired a superb round of 64 to lead the WGC Bridgestone Invitational after the first round at Firestone Country Club. 

The winner of the Memorial Tournament last month across the state in Dublin holed a 40 foot par putt on the 18th green to confirm his fast start, which included holing out from the green-side bunker at the short par-3 15th.

Only three players could get within three shots of the 37-year-old, whose bogey-free 6-under set the pace early in warm conditions on an always tough and potentially punishing layout.

World number one Jason Day is one of those in contention after a picking up two birdies on the closing nine to get to 3-under in a tie for second alongside Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo and US Ryder Cup hopeful Jimmy Walker.

US Open winner Dustin Johnson shot a 1-under 69 in his first competitive round since breaking his major duck at Oakmont, while world number 2 Jordan Spieth closed with four consecutive birdies – after looking very out of sorts on two-over par midway through his day – to end 2-under par overall.

The British contingent got off to a largely sold start, with Justin Rose shooting 69 for a 1-under total, while compatriots Paul Casey and Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston – making his first start at the tournament – are one shot further back after signing for even par 70s.

It was a tougher day for Scotland’s Russell Knox, who offset one birdie with three bogeys and an ugly double-bogey 7 on the 661 yard par-5 16th- one of the longest and most iconic holes on the PGA Tour. His 74 leaves him tied 41st with three rounds left to play.

The tournament is being staged unusually early thanks to the inclusion of the Olympics to the schedule and several big players have chosen to skip the event and choose not to fly to the US so close to the Open Championship at Royal Troon in two weeks.

The WGC Bridgestone Invitational takes place between June 30 and July 3.

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