Graeme McDowell and Jordan Spieth were in good spirits Thursday at the Bridgestone Invitational, which was good news for only one of them.
McDowell has been in such a rut that he has fallen out of the top 50 for the first time in five years and hasn't finished in the top 10 in America since playing this World Golf Championship a year ago. So he happily went along at Firestone South making five birdies in 10 holes on his way to a 4-under 66.
That left him one shot behind Danny Lee, who got his mistakes out of the way early and played a flawless front nine to lead the first round with a 65.
Spieth was playing for the first time since he missed the British Open playoff by one shot, ending his bid at the Grand Slam. He expected a little rust. What concerned him was a sloppy start that was missing some of his fire. Walking up the fourth fairway, he said he told his caddie, "I need to get a little bit inspired right now."
The South Course featured fast fairways and firm greens, along with lush grass in the rough. Only 21 players in the 77-man field managed to break par. Phil Mickelson wasn't among them. Spieth walked off the third green relieved that he cleared the water and made par. Mickelson was behind him and not so lucky. He clipped branches and went in the middle of the pond for a triple bogey. He shot 76.
Jim Furyk might get another chance to win a tournament he should have three years ago, when he went wire-to-wire until making a double bogey from the middle of the 18th fairway in the final round and lost by one. Furyk opened with a 66 to join McDowell one shot out of the lead.
Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose were at 67, while the large group at 68 included Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.