Lowdown: Firestone has been a happy hunting ground for Tiger Woods – he’s won this tournament six times including each of the last three year’s. In 2007 he won by a staggering eight shots. The World Number One’s absence throws the tournament wide open and the 39 European Tour members making their way to Ohio have reason to be optimistic. Open Champion Padraig Harrington will spearhead the European challenge and Justin Rose, who finished second here last year, will be ably supporting. Brits Ross Fisher, Richard Finch, Steve Webster and Oliver Wilson will be making their Bridgestone Invitational debuts.
The South Course at Firestone is known as “The Monster” following the comments of Arnold Palmer after the 1960 PGA Championship. At 7,400 yards with a par of only 70 it’ll certainly present a tough challenge. Last year only Woods finished the week under par.
All the top players will be looking to hone their games with just one week to go before the year’s final Major – the PGA Championship.
Venue: Firestone CC, Ohio
Date: July 31- Aug 3
Course stats: 7,400 yards, par 70
Purse: $8,000,000 Winner: $1,350,000
Defending Champion: Tiger Woods (-8)
TV coverage:
Thursday 31 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7pm
Friday 1 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7pm
Saturday 2 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 7pm
Sunday 3 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 7pm
Player watch:
Geoff Ogilvy – The Australian could join Tiger Woods as the only men to have won all three WGC events.
Stewart Cink – He won here in 2004 and will be hoping to repeat that feat. He currently leads the US Ryder Cup rankings.
Justin Rose – Second here in 2007, the Englishman will be aiming for one better this time round.
Key hole: 16th. A 667 yard par 5 that’s a true three shotter. A pond in front of the green means even the longest hitters can’t get there in two.
Skills required: Strength – Not only does this course require long hitting but the super-thick rough also demands powerful recovery play. Although the rough is set to be shorter than last year, expect the long straight hitters and the strong “escape-artists” to cope well.