Tiger Woods had a shot at making history with a magical 59.
He swore he wasn’t disappointed to come up short.
“Disappointed? Absolutely not,” he said.
Then he cracked: “A 61’s pretty good. I’m not bummed.”
Like a pitcher having to settle for a shutout instead of a perfect game, Woods could console himself by tying his career best and building a seven-shot lead Friday through 36 holes at the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio.
Pursuing his eighth victory at Firestone Country Club, Woods opened birdie-eagle — stuffing an approach to 3 feet at the first hole and holing a 20-footer for 3 at the par-5 second. He had two more birdies on the front nine, and had four in a row to start the back nine in a light rain.
Needing to go only 2 under over his last five holes, he missed birdie putts inside 10 feet at 15 and 17. He saved par on the last with a 25-footer after an errant drive and a shot that hit into the trees and ended up in a bare spot short and right of the green.
“How about just pleased?” he said, when asked to rate the round. “I’m very happy I was able to post that. I just kept thinking, whatever lead I had, ‘Let’s just keep increasing it.’ It’s at seven now, I believe. So that’s not too bad after two days.”
The 61 — matching his career best at the 1999 Byron Nelson, 2005 Buick Open and on the same Firestone course in 2000 — left him at 13-under 127.
Defending champion Keegan Bradley and Chris Wood, playing the tournament for the first time, were tied for second. They each shot a 68.
Bradley finished well before Woods, but was asked if it was disheartening to take the lead and then have Woods retake it after the opening two holes.
“Tiger, those first couple holes out there are definitely birdie holes, so I’d expect him to do that,” Bradley said. “You know, I hope he doesn’t go too low.”
Woods, a four-time winner this year, needed only 22 putts, eight fewer than he had Thursday in an opening 66. He hit 10 of 14 fairways and was on in regulation on 16 of 18 greens.
The last player to shoot a 59 in a PGA Tour event was Stuart Appleby in the final round of the Greenbrier Classic in 2010. Al Geiberger was the first in 1977, and Chip Beck, David Duval and Paul Goydos also accomplished the feat.
WOMEN’S BRITISH OPEN
Before she can think of four in a row, Inbee Park first has to make up an eight-shot deficit at the Women’s British Open.
Playing in the strongest wind this week in St. Andrews, Scotland, she had a pair of three-putt bogeys in a round of 1-over-par 73 that left her closer to the cut line than the lead. The 25-year-old South Korean is trying to become the first golfer to win four professional majors in one year.
Those rugged afternoon conditions were no problem for Na Yeon Choi. The South Korean had a 5-under 67 — almost nine shots lower than the field average for the afternoon — and had a one-shot lead over Miki Saiki of Japan. Saiki set the Old Course record for the Women’s British Open at 6-under 66 in the morning, which featured bursts of showers but very little wind until late in the round.
Choi was at 10-under 134.
Mark Wiebe followed his Senior British Open playoff victory with an 8-under 64 in the first round of the 3M Championship in Blaine, Minn., to take a one-stroke lead over Kenny Perry and Corey Pavin. Four days after beating Bernhard Langer on the fifth extra hole in a Monday finish at Royal Birkdale, Wiebe had eight birdies in a bogey-free round at the TPC Twin Cities. He birdied five of the last seven holes on the front nine, including a 35-foot putt on the fifth hole and a birdie from off the fringe on No. 7. … Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers topped the 16 match-play qualifiers in the 111th Western Amateur, shooting a 3-under 69 in Roland, Ark., for a record 18-under 270 total. … Tyler McDaniel of Kentucky (10-under 274) birdied the final two holes to win the Junior PGA Championship, and Amy Lee of California (5-under 279) closed with a 15-foot par putt to top the girls’ division in Potomac Falls, Va. … South Korean Whee Kim is at 11-under 131 atop the leaderboard of the Web.com Tour’s Mylan Classic in Canonsburg, Pa. South Sound brothers Michael and Andrew Putnam (both at 146) missed the cut by three shots.