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Majestic McDowell off to a flier at Bridgestone Invitational


Graeme McDowell had a brilliant front nine at the Bridgestone Invitational

Graeme McDowell had a brilliant front nine at the Bridgestone Invitational

Graeme McDowell had a brilliant front nine at the Bridgestone Invitational

Ireland's Graeme McDowell got off to a brilliant start in the WCG Bridgestone Invitational with a four-under-par 66 to leave him one shot off the lead.

McDowell carded birdies on the second, third, sixth and seventh to card a 31 for the outward nine and he got the back nine off to a perfect start with another birdie on the tenth before eventually signing for a 66.

Padraig Harrington, meanwhile, did not fare so well as he carded a two-over-par 72.

Meanwhile, England's Paul Casey admitted he was pleasantly surprised to make an excellent start to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday after a distinct lack of preparation.

Casey carded four birdies and two bogeys at Firestone Country Club to record an opening 68, despite coming into the event on the back of a two-week holiday following the Open at St Andrews.

"I had no clue what was going on," Casey joked. "It was a genuine two weeks off and I had not touched a club so it was panic mode the last couple of days trying to get some practice in.

"It's the firmest I have seen this golf course in years. Typically it has been very wet, easy to throw the ball and stick it on the fairways and greens and it's made this course much wider than it was today. I like it like this - it's a little bit like playing a major."

Casey has climbed back to 26th in the world rankings thanks to an excellent season on the PGA Tour, which has seen him lose out in two play-offs and record four other top-10 finishes.

"Although I have had opportunities to win, I don't feel disappointed with the way that I have played," the 38-year-old added on Sky Sports 4. "Even though I didn't play the play-off like I wanted at the Travelers Championship, the final round was stellar and one of the best I have played in a long time.

"I feel like I am trending in the right direction and have still got time to get a win before the season is out. I am not looking back on the missed opportunities, I am very much focusing forward."

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At two under par Casey was one shot off the clubhouse lead held by Players Championship and Scottish Open winner Rickie Fowler.

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