Tiger Woods showed signs of a positive recovery Thursday at the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio.

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 leader board 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 warm-up 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 wound up with a 69.

  • Nick Watney made nine birdies in a bogey-free round in the Barracuda Championship to take a two-point lead in the modified Stableford event.

    Watney earned 18 points at Montreux Golf and Country Club in Reno. Players receive 8 points for double eagle, 5 for eagle, 2 for birdie, 0 for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for double bogey or worse.


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    Geoff Ogilvy and Tim Wilkinson were tied for second.

  • Former Stanford star Cameron Wilson shot a 64 and trails by one stroke after the first round of the Stonebrae Classic at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward. Five players shot 63 in the Web.com Tour event -- Chris Baker, Ryan Blaum, Blayne Barber, Kelly Kraft and Nicholas Lindheim. Cal products Peter Tomasulo and Michael Kim shot 67, and former Golden Bear Max Homa had a 68.

    Swimming

    Michael Phelps will match his most grueling program since coming out of retirement, entering four events at next week's U.S. national championships. The winningest athlete in Olympic history will compete in the 100-meter freestyle, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley at the meet that begins Wednesday in Irvine.

    Basketball

    Manu Ginobili will not play for Argentina at the FIBA World Cup because of a stress fracture in his right leg that has bothered the San Antonio Spurs guard since the playoffs. The World Cup will be played starting Aug. 30 in Spain.

  • Free agent Jerryd Bayless signed with the Milwaukee Bucks. The 6-foot-3 guard played for Memphis and Boston last season, averaging 9.3 points in 72 games.

    Miscellany

    Johnny Lujack, 89, the star quarterback who led Notre Dame to three national titles and won the Heisman Trophy in 1947, is recovering after spinal surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

  • A horse was injured on the new turf course in the seventh race at Del Mar, prompting the seaside track to discontinue racing on the surface for the rest of the week. Nine horse deaths have occurred since the summer meet began July 16.