AKRON, Ohio (AP) _ Starting with a 5-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole, 26-year-old Australian Adam Scott ran off nine birdies over his final 12 holes for a 7-under 63, giving him a two-shot lead over Jason Gore and four shots clear of defending champion Tiger Woods at the Bridgestone Invitational.
``That was my hope coming into this week, to keep playing like I did last week,'' Scott said. ``I just tried to keep working on the same stuff and got it going a little today. I hit a lot of good iron shots and really took the pressure off my putting by hitting them so close.''
No one has played better the last two rounds.
Scott made a Sunday charge in the PGA Championship, closing with a 5-under 67 despite bogeys on two of the last three holes. But it was too late in the major, and he had no serious chance of catching Woods.
Four days later, he was nearly flawless off the tee and aggressive with his irons for a 63.
He played his best golf too late at Medinah. And they don't hand out trophies on Thursday at Firestone.
But he had few complaints with his start. The last player who opened with a 63 at Firestone was Stewart Cink in 2004, and he wound up with a wire-to-wire victory.
``If you're playing from the fairway, it's a lot easier,'' Scott said.
Gore, who got into this World Golf Championship by winning the 84 Lumber Classic last year, played with an old friend from his junior golf days in California _ Woods _ and settled in quickly with a birdie-eagle-birdie start. The highlight was a 4-wood that he aimed toward the center of the green on the par-5 second hole. He pulled it slightly left, and it wound up 2 feet from the hole.
It was the first time Gore has played with Woods on the PGA Tour.
``It's the first time I've played with him since he's been Tiger,'' Gore said. ``Last time I played with him, he was still Eldrick.''
Woods didn't look nearly as sharp as he was four days ago at Medinah, where he captured his 12th career major with a five-shot victory. He traded birdies and bogeys until finishing strong with wedges into 8 feet at No. 16 and 12 feet on No. 18 for a 67.
``I didn't hit the ball very good starting out,'' Woods said. ``But I fixed a couple of things on the back nine, got it turned around, and really played a pretty good back nine.''
Lucas Glover checked in with a 66, freed from the pressure of his bid to make the Ryder Cup team. He was devastated when he wasn't a captain's pick Monday, blaming himself for his poor play this summer.
``It felt horrible,'' Glover said of not being picked by captain Tom Lehman. ``But I didn't deserve it. I'm going to ask Tom _ not now, but later _ what I need to improve on. But the pressure is gone right now. I'm very relaxed because I don't have to think about it.''
This WGC event is for Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup players, along with the top 50 in the world and select winners of tournaments around the world. So it was tough on players such as Glover and Davis Love III to not be part of the Ryder Cup conversation.
Love will not be playing on a U.S. cup team for the first time since 1991. He started strong for the second straight week, his momentum slowed on the 17th when he was stuck between a 7-iron and an 8-iron. He went with the 7-iron to a back flag and it hopped just over the green, leaving him a putt through the fringe to a green that ran quickly away from him. It led to a bogey, but he still wound up with 67.
``That's pretty much why I'm not on the Ryder Cup team,'' Love said. ``I keep making little mistakes. I turned a 65 into a 67.''
Joining Love and Woods in the large group at 67 were Luke Donald, who played in the final group with Woods at Medinah last week; former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell; David Toms, and David Howell of England.
Masters champion Phil Mickelson tends to shut it down this time of the year, and it showed. A week after a spotty performance in the PGA Championship, Mickelson bogeyed four of the final six holes for a 74.
Everyone was chasing Scott, who sure didn't look like anything special when he hit into the trees at No. 10 to start his round, had to chip back to the fairway and made bogey. Everything changed on the par-5 16th when he hit a lob wedge into 5 feet, kicking off a string of birdies that shot him to the top of the leaderboard.
He made three straight birdies from inside 2 feet, one a two-putt birdie at No. 2. The only other blemish came at No. 4, when he left a 40-foot birdie putt some 5 feet short and to the left, and was furious when his par putt caught the right edge.
``I could see I was swinging well, so I just had to be patient and wait for my chances,'' he said.
Woods is going after his fourth consecutive victory on the PGA Tour, a fact that didn't escape Scott.
``Hopefully, I won't have to work too hard the rest of the week to keep up with him,'' Scott said. ``But it would be great to play with him Sunday. That's what we're all out here for, to see how good we are and give the guy a challenge once in a while.''