AKRON, OHIO – Komei Oda shot a 2-under par 68 to tie for sixth in the first round of the Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday, with Hideki Matsuyama a stroke behind in a tie for 14th.
Oda carded six birdies and four bogeys at the par-70 Firestone Country Club, while Matsuyama had five birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey. New Zealander Danny Lee topped the leaderboard at 5 under 65.
“I had good shots and putts over the second half of my round,” said Oda, who teed off on No. 10. “I went 3-over (at the start) and I turned defiant.”
Oda bogeyed Nos. 12, 14 and 15 before four straight birdies from No. 18 put him back on track in the World Golf Championships event. He initially struggled to find the range with his irons but turned things around on the par-4 18th, where he put his second shot within 3 feet of the pin to set up his first birdie.
“It gives me confidence that I was under par. I’m glad I managed to recover,” said Oda. “My drivers are already up for it (the U.S. Open next week).”
Matsuyama also saw his luck turn on the same 18th hole. Heading to his final hole of the day at 3-under par, Matsuyama hit his tee shot to the right, where it came to a stop among the roots of a tree. Things got worse when his third shot went beyond the green and into a bunker.
“I couldn’t help where the tee-shot went. I’m happy I’ve managed to finish under par,” Matsuyama said. “My shots in the back nine as a whole were unstable. I’d like to make as many adjustments as I can, but it’s not something I can do immediately. I’ll let go of what happened today and just go out and play (tomorrow).”
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