Pieters Leads Bridgestone; Spieth, McIlroy Lurking

Thomas Pieters has only played six tournaments since the Masters in April. Looks like the rest is doing him some good.

Pieters shot a 5-under 65 to lead the WGC-Bridgestone on Thursday, racking up five birdies on a spotless card.

He leads the field by a stroke over Scotland’s Russell Knox, who was 3-under after two holes before settling in for a 4-under 66. Knox eagled No. 2 but hard bogeys on 9 and 18 to even it out.

Among those in a six-way tie for third at 3-under are Americans Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson, and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy. McIlroy, playing with a new caddie for the first time since 2014, came out with guns blazing, hitting three birdies in the first six holes.

Spith, playing for the first time since winning the Open Championship, started with a bogey on No. 3, then rallied back with three birdies on the next five holes. He had a 51-yard birdie putt on No. 14 as well.

Defending Bridgestone champion and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson is tied for ninth at 2-under, four strokes off the lead.

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