So many chances at WGC Bridgestone
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 World Golf Championship -Bridgestone Invitational | Preview | 29 Jul 2014
The third of four World Golf Championship events in 2014 is played this week at the Firestone Country Club in Akron in Ohio where the WGC Bridgestone Invitational begins on Thursday.
The event became a World Golf Championship in 1999 after several years as the NEC World Series and has been played at Firestone in all but one of the years since. That exception came in 2002 when the layout was undergoing changes and the tournament as taken to Sahalee in Washington State.
That aside however the brilliant golf course has provided an outstanding venue over a long period having first played host to a professional event in 1976 although earlier it was also the venue for many of the great Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf Series.
Eight time winner of this event or its equivalent, Tiger Woods, gets a litmus test this week to see just where he is at with his game. Given his amazing record over the South Course at Firestone there will be no excuses for a lack of familiarity with the layout.
It is hard to believe he can contend this week given his missed cut at the Quicken Loans tournament in Washington and his 69th place at the Open Championship.
Adam Scott did well at the Open Championship and is a former winner over this layout. The fact that he is playing just two weeks after his Open appearance is a positive for Scott and he stands a great chance of winning three years after his great win in 2011.
Scott has recorded two other top tens in this Championship and comes off the back of a four consecutive top tens including his victory at the Crowne Plaza Colonial.
Jim Furyk has yet to win on the PGA Tour this season, in fact it has been some time since he has won but he has been undoubtedly one of its stars with three runner-up finishes. With a very good record around Firestone with two runner-up finishes and numerous top tens his chances look very good for his great season to continue.
Rory McIlroy displayed once again at Royal Liverpool that when he is good he is very good and with three top tens in his last four starts this season he is in the right sort of form to move closer to Adam Scott’s position at the top of the world ranking. McIlroy has played well enough at Firestone in the past.
Henrik Stenson improved a very average record in the event when runner-up behind Tiger Woods last year. His game is perhaps not at the same level as was the case this time last year but it is not that far short of it.
He finished back in the field at the Open Championship but his form prior was very good.
Keegan Bradley and Firestone seem to get along just fine, the former PGA Champion having finished as a winner and runner-up in this event in the last two years. He was also playing well in 2011 before a poor final round and combined with several good tournaments of late he may well be a very good chance away from the favourites.
Steve Stricker plays a very limited schedule this these days but when he does turn up he does very well. He has some nice finishes to his name in this event and although he has not won in quite a while he seldom misses a cut and contends on occasions.
Hideki Matsuyama finished 21st in his first appearance at Firestone last year and has since gone on to win his first PGA Tour title at the Memorial and he continues to impress. If he was to win again then there would be few surprises.
Scott heads the Australians because of who he is and his record at Firestone and he will be joined by his fellow countrymen Jason Day, Marc Leishman, John Senden, Matt Jones and Steve Bowditch. All but Leishman have won PGA Tour events this year and Day did finish 4th in the event in 2011 and although not at the peak of his game at present he did finish 4th at the US Open three starts ago.
This shapes as a very even and intriguing contest.