Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson headline an elite field set for the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club. Shane Lowry is defending champion.

With this year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational clashing with the 100th Open de France, a number of top European Tour players will be missing at Firestone. Rory McIlroy has opted to play in Paris as has Masters champ Danny Willett.

Jason Day tees it up in Ohio, as does U.S. Open winner Dustin Johnson and two-time Major champion Jordan Spieth. There’s a limited field of just 61 players and there will be no cut.

In last year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Shane Lowry of Ireland fired a final round of 66 to secure the biggest win of his career. The Irishman went bogey free on the Sunday to catch and pass overnight leaders Jim Furyk and Justin Rose. Lowry is back to defend his title and Justin Rose will also start this time out.

At 7,400 yards with a par of only 70, Firestone presents a tough challenge to the top players. The South Course at Firestone was originally designed by Bert Way back in 1929 but it was remodelled by the great Robert Trent Jones in 1960. In 1976, the course hosted the first World Series of Golf, won by Jack Nickaus. Until 1998 the tournament was known by that name, before it became a WGC event in 1999.

Tiger Woods has been a dominant force at Firestone since he won the inaugural instalment of this event as a WGC tournament (then the NEC Invitational) back in 1999. He defended his title in 2000 and made it three in a row in 2001. He’s won the event five more times since then.

Weather should be largely fine in Akron this week, although there could be some rain on Friday.

Venue: Firestone CC, Akron, Ohio
Date: June 30 – Jul 3
Course stats: par 70, 7,400 yards
Purse: $9,500,000 Winner: $1,612,432
Defending Champion: Shane Lowry (-11)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 30 – Sky Sports 4 from 6.30pm
Friday 1 – Sky Sports 4 from 6.30pm
Saturday 2 – Sky Sports 4 from 5pm
Sunday 3 – Sky Sports 4 from 5pm

Player watch:

Jim Furyk – The veteran showed a great return to form after injury with a tied second place finish in the U.S. Open. He has a solid record in this event with nine top-10 finishes, including a tie for third last season.

Jason Dufner – He’s been cruising along under the radar for the last few weeks but has been posting good results – he was tied eighth at Oakmont. He’s twice finished in the top-10 at Firestone.

Jason Dufner swing sequence:

Brooks Koepka – The powerful and talented American finished in the top-10 on his debut at this event last year. He’s been on a great run of form recently with a pair of runner-up finishes… He could go one better this week.

Key hole: 16th. A 667 yard par 5, it’s a true three shotter. A pond in front of the green means even the longest hitters can’t get there in two.