Press Release Summary = Teeing off one week before the PGA Championship, the world\'s top players found some very major-like playing conditions Thursday at Firestone Country Club. Hunter Mahan, Paul Casey and Rory Sabbatini lead the Bridgestone Invitational, at 3-under.
Press Release Body = From WorldGolf.com News Services, Golf Publisher Syndications
Teeing off one week before the PGA Championship, the world\'s top players found some very major-like playing conditions Thursday at Firestone Country Club.
The low round of the day in the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational was a 3-under-par 67, posted by the trio of Hunter Mahan, Paul Casey and Rory Sabbatini at Akron, Ohio. That marked the highest first-round score since the tournament became a WGC event in 1999.
Firestone\'s South Course was playing hard and fast. Only 13 players broke par in the 84-man field that was scheduled to include the top 50 in the world.
\"The course is certainly going to get tougher, but right now it\'s playing pretty tough,\" Sabbatini told reporters after his round that included six birdies and three bogeys. \"It\'s in the best condition I\'ve ever seen it -- the most lush conditions, so I don\'t know if that\'s a good or a bad thing.
\"The rough is insane out there. It\'s like you\'re hitting the ball out of Velcro. It just makes it pretty hard to advance the ball up to the greens.\"
Sabbatini said he was just happy that the weather conditions were so good.
\"The fairways are beautiful and the greens are perfect -- they\'re really fast and smooth,\" Sabbatini said. \"We\'re lucky out there today. The wind didn\'t pick up too much and it was good scoring conditions. It was just a matter of putting the ball in the fairway.\"
The first-round scoring average of 72.181 was also the highest first-round average at Firestone since the Bridgestone Invitational became a WGC tournament. Prior to Thursday, the highest first-round average was 71.930.
The difficult conditions weren\'t enough to cool off Mahan, who has held or shared the lead in the first round of PGA Tour events in three of the last seven weeks. The former Oklahoma State golfer has six consecutive top-17 finishes, including four straight top-10 efforts.
Despite playing well, Mahan said he was amazed by the speed of the greens. His day included a stretch of five birdies in seven holes on the front side and a double bogey on the back.
\"I\'ve been trying to take as many notes as I can on the greens and figure out where the fast putts are,\" Mahan said. \"They are really, really good right now. They are fast, but very fair.
\"You\'ve got to pay attention. If you lose a little bit of focus and kind of worry about the lines too much, you can definitely knock it by quite a bit.\"
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August 2, 2007 Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.