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Bridgestone Invitational 2012: Bubba Watson 1 Shot Back, Phil Mickelson Under Par

The first round morning wave of tee times at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is progressing through the back side, and as you would expect, a number of the world's top names are on the first page of the leaderboard. Carl Pettersson, the winner at Harbour Town this spring, leads at 4-under through 16 holes at Firestone's South Course. Pettersson went off the back side and picked up three birdies in his first seven holes, including a four on the monster par-5 16th.

There's a host of former major winners one shot back at 3-under, including Americans Bubba Watson and Keegan Bradley. Watson's game continues to round into form after his lengthy break after the win at Augusta. Golf was not a priority when he made an appearance at The Memorial in May, but he's improved as the summer wore on with good showings at Hartford and at Lytham. Watson, the bomb-and-gouger, is taking advantage of the par-5s at Firestone. He carded a birdie at No. 16 (one of three straight as he made the turn) and then picked up an eagle on the par-5 second hole.

Phil Mickelson is 1-under through 11 holes, tied with Cleveland-area native Jason Dufner. Englishmen Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are also draining birdies during their opening round. Westwood has moved to 3-under after a red number at No. 2 and Donald is 2-under after starting his round with three straight birdies.

Adam Scott, the defending champion who opened his week last year with a blistering 62, is even-par through his first 13 holes on Thursday. Scott is making his first appearance since his four-straight-bogey collapse at Lytham.

For a live leaderboard, visit Golf.com.

For complete coverage of the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, stay with thisStoryStream. For all your golf news in the run up to the season's final major, visit SB Nation's golf hub.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.