By Stan Kosinski
The PGA Tour travels this week to Northeast Ohio for the World Golf Championships — Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club.
The field, highlighted by seven-time winner Tiger Woods, includes the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Rankings, the members of the 2011 United States and International President’s Cup teams, official tournament winners from the Federated Tours since the 2011 Bridgestone Invitational, including the Japan Golf Tour Championship (2012), the Bridgestone Open (2011), the JBWere Masters (2011), the Dimension Data Pro-Am (2012) and the Thailand Golf Championship (2011).
Notable players this week include defending PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley, K.J. Choi, World No. 1 Luke Donald, Jason Dufner, 2012 Open Championship winner Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Bill Haas, Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, 2012 Masters Champion Bubba Watson and defending champion Adam Scott. This year’s U.S. Open Champion, Webb Simpson, will again not participate as he decided to remain home with his wife and newborn daughter for the second event in a row.
The idea for a series of events which would include the very best players and courses from around the world surfaced at the 1996 President’s Cup. Golf’s five professional governing bodies, the PGA Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia the and Sunshine Tour reached an agreement then on several key elements in order to create several new international events beginning in 1999, forming the International Federation of PGA Tours to develop these tournaments. Jeff Maggert won the first event held at La Costa Resort Accenture Match Play on the 38th hole of the 36 hole championship match. Maggert chipped in for birdie to beat fellow American Andrew Magee.
In the World Golf Championships Era, no other player has dominated these events like Tiger Woods. Beginning with his first win at the 1999 NEC Invitational (now the Bridgestone Invitational), Woods has 16 official titles in the World Golf Championships, which equals 22 percent of his 73 career wins. He has won the Bridgestone Invitational a total of seven times (1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009). With another win this week he would tie Sam Snead’s record of winning one event a total of eight times. Needless to say his record shows that he is very comfortable on this stage and on this golf course.
Firestone Golf and Country Club is in Akron, Ohio, and was originally designed by Bert Way in 1928. The course was later remodeled by Robert Trent Jones in 1960 and offers a total of 54 holes to it’s membership, the North Course, the West Course, and the South Course, which hosts the Bridgestone Invitational.
The South course measures 7400 yards from the Championship tees with a course rating of 76.1 and a slope of 132. The par-70 layout was ranked 18th out of 51 courses in difficulty on the PGA Tour in 2011. Featuring 82 bunkers and three water hazards, tight fairways, and greens that will be running about 13 on the stimpmeter come tournament time, Firestone is always a test for the world’s elite players. The pros will also have to once again contend with the 667 yard par five 16th, dubbed “The Monster”. It is a hole where the tournament can be won, or lost, with a single errant stroke. Get ready for some unbelievable shot making and high drama once again at the Bridgestone Invitational.