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Gore takes advantage of Tiger watch

Written by: Staff

AKRON, Ohio, Aug 25 (Reuters) American Jason Gore made the most of playing with Tiger Woods for the first time in a PGA Tour event at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday.

Keeping a close eye on the world number one's focus, Gore fired a five-under-par 65 to finish the opening round two strokes behind pacesetting Australian Adam Scott.

''It's the first time I've played with him since he's been Tiger,'' Gore told reporters yesterday. ''Last time I played with him, he was still Eldrick.'' The 32-year-old has known Eldrick T. Woods since their junior golf days in southern California.

''I've played a few practice rounds with him but we still try to keep in touch and I still call him for advice,'' Gore added.

''I have a tremendous amount of respect for Tiger, not only as a golfer but also as a person. He's a really good guy.'' Gore, who gained his place in this week's limited field of 78 by winning last year's 84 Lumber Classic, made a red-hot start at Firestone Country Club.

He birdied the first, eagled the second and birdied the third before reaching the turn in four-under 31.

Although he failed to maintain that pace on the back nine, three more birdies plus two bogeys kept him in the hunt for his second PGA Tour title.

''I've been struggling a little bit this year with focus and being able to watch Tiger today helped me realise that I needed to work more on that,'' Gore said.

''I watched him a lot today, and it's kind of hard not to watch him,'' added the former Nationwide Tour player, who provided the feel-good story of last year's U.S. Open when he charged into a share of the second-round lead.

''He's amazing. I think it kind of bled a little bit into my game and I was able to focus on my shots a little bit. I turned out pretty good.

''If you can't learn from the best, then you may as well just pack up your bags and go home.'' REUTERS VJ BST0725

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