THE FIRST LOOK
World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational
July 26, 2014
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- Tiger Woods won last year's event by seven shots over Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
News and notes ahead of next week's WGC - Bridgestone Championship.
• COURSE: Firestone Country Club (South), 7,400 yards, par 70. Originally a very generous perk from Harvey Firestone to employees of his tire company, the club also has made a name for itself as a stern test of golf. The South course, opened in 1929, was remade by Robert Trent Jones for the 1960 PGA Championship captured by Jay Hebert. The PGA of America brought its championship back again in 1966 and ’75, by which time Firestone had become home of the World Series of Golf. The event moved under the World Golf Championships banner in 1999.
• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 550 points.
• CHARITY: The First Tee is the primary beneficiary of World Golf Championships events. Proceeds also were distributed last year to 42 Northeast Ohio charities, including Ronald McDonald House Charities and Akron Children’s Hospital.
• FIELD WATCH: New British Open king Rory McIlroy and world No.1 Adam Scott join eight-time champ Tiger Woods atop a list of 76 qualifiers. Each of the world’s top 50 has committed to tee it up. … Spots remain for the RBC Canadian Open winner or anyone who enters the top 50 in Monday’s world rankings. … Recent PGA TOUR winners Brian Harman, Brendon Todd, Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch and Matt Every are among 10 entrants playing their first World Golf Championships event. … Lee Westwood tees it up in his 48th WGC start, most of any player but still in pursuit of his first WGC victory.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 259, Tiger Woods (2000).
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 61, José María Olazábal (1st round, 1990), Tiger Woods (2nd round, 2000 and 2nd round, 2013).
• LAST YEAR: Woods reasserted his dominance at Firestone with a seven-shot romp, cruising to his eighth victory in the event on the strength of a second-round 61 that separated him from the pack. Woods flirted with 59 for much of his Friday round, needing two birdies in his final five holes to cross the threshold but ending his day with five consecutive pars. Nonetheless, it was the fourth 61 of his career –first since the 2005 Buick Open – and left him seven shots clear of his nearest pursuer. Weekend rounds of 68-70 sealed the outcome, putting his name alongside Sam Snead a second time for most wins in a single event. Snead won eight Greater Greensboro Opens; Woods also has won eight times at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
• STORYLINES: Never mind the chance to set a new record with a ninth victory at Firestone, Woods finds himself in a race to simply crack the FedExCup’s postseason lineup. With just 45 points from his five starts, he’ll arrive in Akron at least 331 points behind No.125 in the standings. Three weeks remain in the chase. … McIlroy, fresh from his commanding performance at Royal Liverpool, will see if he can ride the momentum to a first WGC triumph. His best finish in 21 previous WGC starts was runner-up at the 2012 Accenture Match Play. … Jason Dufner seeks a third top-10 finish in as many visits to Firestone. Last year’s tie for fourth followed a tie for seventh in his 2012 debut.
• SHORT CHIPS: In 14 World Golf Championships events since the start of the 2011 season, Woods is the only man to win twice. He also captured last year’s WGC-Cadillac Championship before doubling his take at Firestone. … Both of the year’s first two WGC winners have come from among the young guns. Patrick Reed (23 years, 7 months) became the youngest WGC champion when he won at Doral, following Jason Day (26 years, 1 month) at the Match Play… Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (138th) joins Woods in coming to Firestone outside the top 125 in FedExCup points, still needing to lock down a Playoffs berth.
• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 1:30-6:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, noon-1:30 p.m. (GC); 2-6 p.m. (CBS).
• RADIO: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, noon-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).