McElroy, Mickelson enjoy each other’s company at Bridgestone
It was a big hit with the fans, and especially with the two players.
After McIlroy completed a 2-under 68 and Mickelson finished off a 66, they were already looking forward to playing together again on Friday.
“Every time I’ve played with Phil, I’ve enjoyed it,” said McIlroy, the 21-year-old phenom from Northern Ireland. “I think we enjoy each other’s company. We chatted pretty much the whole way around. It’s nice, especially when you’re out in a two-ball. It’s nice to have a playing partner that you can talk to and have a little bit of a chat.”
Mickelson felt the same way.
“I do enjoy playing with Rory,” he said. “He’s fun, he’s interesting, he’s a smart guy. So we always have intelligent conversation. He’s really got a great demeanor – always upbeat, great to be around, not to mention his talent. I do enjoy playing with him and we get to play together again tomorrow.”
The two discussed building projects, of all things. Both are in the process of constructing new practice facilities at their homes and were comparing notes throughout the round on different designs, grasses and greens.
Sticker stays close: Steve Stricker kept himself within striking distance by opening with a 2-under-par 35-33—68 that left him four strokes behind front-running Bubba Watson. The Edgerton native had 12 pars, four birdies and two bogeys.
Best move: Tiger Woods had a dreadful day, shooting a 74. But after making a 7-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole, he bowed and tipped his cap—in two directions.
Nonetheless, Woods’ 74 was his highest score ever in a competitive round at Firestone Country Club. The previous worst was a 72.
Bubba vs.: Bubba Watson took the last two weeks off, playing only five holes of golf. But he kept plenty busy.
He shot an episode of “Inside The PGA Tour,” giving viewers a look into his life. He also spent time playing with family and friends on a lake in North Carolina.
Oh, and he also filmed a segment of “Shaq Vs.” in which the NBA’s gentle giant tests himself against other athletes.
“He’s not very good at golf (but) Shaq actually impressed me,” said Watson, the first-round leader of the Bridgestone Invitational after shooting a 6-under 64. “Shaq is an athlete; he just happens to be 7-foot-2, 300 pounds of pure muscle. His feel on the greens wasn’t very good, but for the first five holes he’s ever played, he impressed me.”
Watson wouldn’t disclose the outcome of the alternate-shot match pitting Shaq and Anthony Kim against Watson and Charles Barkley.
He did reveal something that wasn’t really a secret.
“Charles Barkley is not very good at golf,” he cracked to loud laughter.