Golf Roundup

Harrington back in form

Associated Press / August 7, 2009

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Padraig Harrington feels good enough about his swing to concentrate on his results, and it finally paid off yesterday in the first round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, with a 6-under 64 for a two-shot lead.

Harrington, who hasn’t won a sanctioned tournament since last year at the PGA Championship, took a two-shot lead over Scott Verplank, Tim Clark, and Prayad Marksaeng.

Tiger Woods kept alive his streak of breaking par in the opening round for the 11th straight time at Firestone, where he is going for his seventh victory on the tree-lined course. He didn’t do anything special in his round of 68, although it kept him in the picture.

Phil Mickelson got off to a rough start in his return to the PGA Tour. But a storming finish featuring three birdies in eight holes put a smile on his face after an even-par 70.

Harrington watched a marginal shot take a wicked bounce to the left of the 13th green, his fourth hole of the round, leaving him a tough chip with not much green between him and the flag. He hit it to 5 feet and made the putt.

Those were the pars he wasn’t saving all year, and it seemed to free him up for the rest of the day. He surged into a share of the lead with a 12-foot birdie on No. 1 and a two-putt birdie on the par-5 second, then picked up bonus birdies from about 25 feet on the seventh and eighth holes, the latter from just short of the green.

PGA - Rod Pampling shot a 5-under 67 in swirling mountain wind to take the first-round lead at the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, a stroke ahead of a group that included two-time winner Vaughn Taylor and former Nevada player Rich Barcelo.

Two-time Reno runner-up Jonathan Kaye, Steve Pate, Grant Waite, Spencer Levin, and rookie Marc Leishman also carded 68s.

US Women’s Amateur - Florida teen stars Alexis Thompson and Jessica Korda advanced to the quarterfinals, winning second- and third-round matches at Old Warson Country Club in St. Louis.

Thompson, 14, the 2008 US Girls’ Junior champion, had a pair of 2-and-1 victories, beating England’s Jodi Ewart and the Philippines’ Cyna Marie Rodriguez.

Korda - with her father, former tennis star Petr Korda, working as her caddie - beat Aimee Neff, of Carmel, Ind., 6 and 5, and Erynne Lee of Silverdale, Wash., 2 and 1.