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Akron, Ohio • Tiger Woods showed signs of a positive recovery Thursday at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Not just from back surgery, but from making bogeys.
Woods bounced back with birdies all three times that he made mistakes, opening with a 2-under 68 on a soft, gentle day for scoring at Firestone. It left him four shots behind Marc Leishman of Australia, and hopeful that this time he can build on a solid start.
Woods opened with a 69 at the British Open two weeks ago, only to plunge down the leaderboard the rest of the week at Royal Liverpool.
"I hit a lot of good shots," Woods said. "I dropped shots at three holes out there today [and] got it right back on the very next hole."
For so many players, the opening round of this World Golf Championship felt like either a warmup or an audition for bigger events to follow. Ryan Moore was among three players at 65, a good start for someone looking for one big week to get him on the Ryder Cup team.
Two more Ryder Cup hopefuls Patrick Reed and Francesco Molinari of Italy were among those another shot back.
British Open champion Rory McIlroy, who next week will chase his second straight major, was among the leaders until not paying attention to packed sand in a bunker sent him to a double bogey late in his round. He still wound up with a 69.
Johnson takes leave of absence from golf
Dustin Johnson is taking a leave of absence from golf to seek help for "personal challenges," a swift end to his season that will keep him from playing the PGA Championship, the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup.
In a statement Thursday from Hambric Sports Management, the 30-year-old Johnson said his leave of absence was effective immediately. It did not indicate how long he would be out, though agent David Winkle told the PGA of America he would not be at the PGA Championship next week or the Ryder Cup at the end of September.
Johnson, who tied for fourth in the U.S. Open and tied for 12th in the British Open, was No. 5 in the Ryder Cup standings.
He asked for privacy "as I embark upon this mission of self-improvement."
At Firestone Country Club, South Course
Purse • $9 million
Yardage • 7,400; Par • 70 (35-35)
Marc Leishman 32-3264 -6
Ryan Moore 31-3465 -5
Charl Schwartzel 31-3465 -5
Justin Rose 33-3265 -5
Patrick Reed 35-3267 -3
Francesco Molinari 33-3467 -3
Graham DeLaet 33-3467 -3
Rickie Fowler 35-3267 -3
Jamie Donaldson 32-3668 -2
Brandt Snedeker 35-3368 -2
Keegan Bradley 36-3268 -2
Sergio Garcia 35-3368 -2
Tiger Woods 35-3368 -2
Branden Grace 35-3469 -1
Harris English 36-3369 -1
David Howell 35-3469 -1
Seung-Yul Noh 34-3569 -1
Jimmy Walker 32-3769 -1
Miguel A. Jimenez 35-3469 -1
Rory McIlroy 36-3369 -1
Steven Bowditch 37-3269 -1
Chris Kirk 34-3569 -1
J.B. Holme 32-3769 -1
Jim Furyk 34-3569 -1
Bubba Watson 34-3569 -1
Adam Scott 36-3369 -1
Thomas Bjorn 35-3469 -1