AKRON, Ohio — Rickie Fowler had eight birdies and an eagle to give himself another shot at winning. Adam Scott did well enough to stay in the lead. PGA Tour rookie Keegan Bradley got in on the action late.
It seemed as if everyone was in contention Friday at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Except for the guy most everyone came to see.
On another soft day that was ripe for low scores, Tiger Woods missed a 2-foot putt and didn’t make enough birdies to atone for his short-game mistakes during a 1-over 71 that left him in the middle of the pack.
He was only seven shots behind, but had 35 players in front of him at Firestone.
“Today was not very good,” Woods said.
It was good enough for Scott, except for making the putts he holed in the opening round of this World Golf Championship. He had a 70, which is never bad at Firestone in any condition.
After opening with a 62, Scott was at 8-under 132 along with Ryan Moore (66), Fowler (64) and Bradley (65). Jason Day bogeyed his last hole for a 70 and was one shot behind with Martin Laird (67) and Robert Karlsson (65).
“The last time I shot 62 was probably a long time ago, so am I going to expect to do it two days in a row?” Scott said. “I don’t think so. But it’s a hard golf course, and if you’re just a little off, you get quite severely penalized. There’s no real secret that it’s not easy to shoot a couple of 62s.”
Fowler was all over the place. He made only five pars, and kept his gallery guessing the rest of the time. There were three straight birdies, and a wedge he holed from 110 yards for eagle on No. 3. He followed that with three bogeys and three pars.
“A lot of good things came out of today,” said Fowler, who is still searching for his first win. “Building some confidence going into the weekend.”
No one appeared to have more fun than Bradley, the nephew of LPGA Hall of Fame player Pat Bradley and a winner this year at the Byron Nelson Championship. With big crowds lingering even after Woods left the course, he could hear plenty of cheers for birdies all around him, and even some for himself as he worked his way to the top of the leaderboard.
“I had Luke Donald behind me, Phil Mickelson a few groups behind me,” Bradley said. “I mean, it’s something that I dream about since I was 2 years old. It’s kind of happening in front of my eyes, which is a weird feeling to describe. But it’s spectacular. I just can’t express how much fun I’m having out there.”
His biggest birdie came at No. 3, even though it was only a 12-foot putt.
Bradley played a money game with Mickelson on Wednesday, in which Mickelson serves as a mentor until the final holes when the four-time major champion cares only about getting into Bradley’s pocket. Mickelson pointed to a hole location that can be tricky. The putt looks as if it should break right, but it actually moves left.
“And sure enough, I had this exact putt he brought me over to,” Bradley said. “I wanted to make it so bad so I could go back and tell him later tonight.”
Mickelson was among those who couldn’t keep up with 31 guys who broke par in the second round.
He holed out from the 11th fairway for eagle, but followed that with a double bogey on the par-3 12th, and finished with a pair of bogeys for a 73 that put him at even par, eight shots behind.
Geoff Ogilvy had a tough time, as well. The former U.S. Open champion was two shots out of the lead and playing the easiest hole at Firestone, the par-5 second, when he four-putted from 35 feet for double bogey, and finished an annoying round with back-to-back bogeys that dropped him back to a 70 and put him at 2-under 138.
Lee Westwood, taking mental help from Bob Rotella and putting tips from Dave Stockton, was right in the thick of it until dropping four shots on the last six holes for a 71 that also put him at 138.
The starting times for Saturday were moved to the early morning because of storms anticipated in the afternoon. Saturday could go a long way in sorting out who has control of the final tournament before the PGA Championship next week in Atlanta.
Woods is not out of it yet, but his short game was of no help to him. The shocker was the 2-foot par putt he missed on the 14th, followed by another bogey on the 15th set up by an ordinary chip. His back nine was marred by a double bogey when his approach from the rough went just beyond the green and took a wicked hop into a suspect lie in the bunker.
He could have escaped with par except for a three-putt from 50 feet.
“I didn’t putt as well as I did yesterday,” he said, “and consequently, I just never got the round going.”
For those ahead of him, it’s off to the races.
Twenty players were separated by only four shots going into the final two rounds, a group that includes U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, Steve Stricker, Nick Watney and Ryo Ishikawa of Japan, who was three shots behind.