The Tour goes to the wasteland known as Ohio, but to a wonderful venue known as Firestone CC. The Bridgestone Invitational is a World Golf Championship event (1 of 5) and carries a big purse and lots of ranking points. It's an invitational and limited to around 75 players: top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), plus some qualifiers from winning certain tournaments and from other international golf tours. And while it's a select field, this is a stalwart of a tournament and of a course.
One of my favorites, and one on my list of places I don't have the money or time to travel to and play, the South Course at Firestone Country Club has been around almost 90 years and withstands the test of time and technology. Harvey Firestone purportedly built it as a company perk for his tire factory employees back in 1929, but it has risen quite a bit in stature. Listed at 7,400 yards, it has played to a par 70 since before that was cool (or the USGA changes it). There are only two par 5's: #4 which is easily reachable by all pros, and #16 which is not. There are few par 5's that make pros lay up from the fairway, but #16 is one of them. The curves, the small green and the pond all contribute to a great golf hole. The rest of the course is still long, but mostly arrow-straight. The trees make it tight and most holes have elevated greens. In case you can't tell, I love it.
They used to hold the World Series of Golf here for many years, and it then became the Firestone Invitational I believe. But that was right around the time Ford Exploders were careening into ditches due to supposed Firestone tire defects, so they went with the sister company name of Bridgestone. It's been the Bridgestone since 1999, and in that span, Tiger Woods has won this event 8 freakin' times. I don't care who you are, that's impressive right there.
But enough about the course. As stated above, most of the world's top 50 will be in attendance and that still does not include Tiger Woods. However Rickie, Phil, Spieth, Bubba, Day, DJ... you name it and they'll likely be there. Still no Rory due to his "futbol" injury. I've mentioned Bubba, but guess who else will be there?
Scheduled to compete are, with OWGR and FedEx Cup ranks in parentheses:
Russell Henley (51,45): By virtue of being in the top 50 OWGR. Henley has had a cool summer after a pretty warm winter and spring.
Chris Kirk (22,26): He is qualified because of his win at the 2014 Deutsche Bank, and winning the 2015 Crowne Plaza earlier this summer. He has a broken hand, and with Rory McIlroy is the only qualifier not to play.
Kevin Kisner (34,15): His top 50 OWGR ranking gets him in. He's rested up after having played sparingly the last few weeks, and I expect him to continue to make noise.
Brendon Todd (44,48): Also in the top 50, so he's set to tee off. Has had some good runs this summer and could break through in this limited field event.
Bubba Watson (3,2 ): His two wins, including a WGC event in China last November, have him near the top in most of the rankings. But this is not his type of course in my opinion. He doesn't play a straight ball, and many of these holes are dead straight with trees lining the fairways. He can take advantage of his length though.
And with Rory out, Jordan Spieth can take over the world #1 ranking with a victory (it's almost as complex as NASCAR standings). But the Masters champ (Spieth), US Open Champ (Spieth) and Open Champ (Zach Johnson) are all here along with one of the hottest golfers on the planet in Jason Day (top 5 US Open, top 5 Open Championship, winner Canadian Open).
TV coverage is extended due to the nature of the tournament, so you'll have more hours in which to stay away from ESPN's NFL camp coverage (speaking of which, a sharp stick in the eye sounds better than more news from Philly or New England). Golf Channel has it Thu/Fr from 1:30-6:30 pm and 12:00-1:30 Sat/Sun. Then CBS gets the main weekend coverage and an earlier start time from 2:00-6:00 pm.
Enjoy the golf, root on the four Duffer 'Dawgs, and hope Chris Kirk heals up before the PGA Championship. Go 'Dawgs!!!!