This week the PGA Tour announced that the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational would be moving from Firestone, bringing an end to the 19-year relationship. By Jack Howes
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational To Leave Firestone CC
The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club had been a feature event on both the PGA and European Tours for many years.
However, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced that this year’s tournament would be its last in Akron, Ohio.
Monahan announced that the need for a sponsor was the decisive factor in the move. He said: “We had a great run here at Firestone Country Club with the PGA Tour and a World Golf Championship. One of the primary reasons its been a success is because of an exceptional golf course. But continuing to play here was not a reality.”
It means that PGA Tour fans will no longer see the iconic Firestone course or water tower. Firestone first hosted a PGA tour event in 1954 and has also hosted the PGA Championship three times – in 1960, 1966 and 1975.
The newly named WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational will be held at TCP Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee from 2019 onwards.
David Bronczek, president and CEO of FedEx, said: “I think it’s going to be great for our city, it’s going to be great for the PGA, it’s going to be great for St. Jude. This will change the way the world looks at our city”
The World Golf Championship will replace the FedEx St. Jude Classic as Memphis’ annual PGA Tour event. TPC Southwind had hosted the St. Jude Classic since 1989. It is usually staged early June.
The tournament is expected to keep its August date, which has raised logistical problems. The average humidity for Memphis during August is an uncomfortable 85% and temperatures can get well above 30 degrees celsius.
Firestone, which has been the venue since 1999, will host the WGC for the final time during the first week of August.
Tiger Woods, who is yet to qualify for this year’s event, has won there on eight occasions. Last year it was won by Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.
However, Firestone will still hold professional events – just not on the main Tour.
Monahan announced that the Senior Players Championship, one of the five Senior Tour majors, will be held at Firestone between 2019 – 2022.
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