Well, I’m back to work after a week in the Southwest Virginia mountains and a little vacation from the heat here in Florida. I did take in the Open Championship while I was out, and was as surprised as everyone else at Adam Scott’s collapse on Sunday’s final round. The Golf Course at Royal Lytham, after being somewhat docile for the first three rounds, showed some teeth with a 15-20 mile an hour wind on Sunday and with the help of the 206 sand traps pretty much ended Scotts hope’s for his first Major Championship.
I don’t remember anyone on Television talking about Ernie Els as being someone who had a chance to win, but win he did for his second British Open and his fourth Major Championship.
So much for the Open, we need to get down to business and get you ready for this weekends contest at Firestone’s famed old South Course in Akron, Ohio. The World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational gets underway on Thursday morning and has a loaded World Class field.
The Firestone Country Club was commissioned in 1929 and built for the employees of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. The origional South Course was designed by Bert Way and redesigned by Robert Trent Jones to add 50 bunkers and two ponds, bringing it up to par 70 and playing to 7189 yards. It was again redesigned in 1985 by Golforce. It still plays to par 70, but was again lengthened to 7283 yards and has a course rating of 76.1.
The first tournament to be held on the South Course was the Rubber City Open starting in 1954 and continuing through 1959. The PGA Championship was first played here in 1960 and again in 1966 and 1975. The American Golf Classic was played at Firestone from 1961 through 1976. Since 1962, The World Series of Golf, now known as the Bridgestone Invitational has been played on the South Course.
Firestone has two additional golf courses, The North and West Courses. The North Course has hosted a couple of televised events, the 1976 American Golf Classic, as well as, the 1994 World Series of Golf.
There are some memorable holes on the South Course, known as “The Monster”, the most challenging being the 667 yard par 5 16th . It is one of the longest par 5’s in existence and the pond in front of the green adds some real drama for a player needing a birdie on Sunday. during the 1975 PGA Championship, Jack Nicklaus toughed out a par on 16, and closed a four stroke gap to eventually beat Bruce Crampton for his 4th PGA Title. Arnold Palmer took a triple bogey on this hole in the first PGA held on the South Course and called it a Monster. The name stuck.
In 2000, Tiger Woods hit his infamous “shot in the dark” on the par four 18th hole which has a narrow profile and a well bunkered green to win the World Golf Championship-NEC Invitational. The 469 par four 6th hole is another of the very difficult holes, and there are debates between golfer that this hole is more difficult than the 16th. Both present golfers needing to win on Sunday with nightmares.
Other than Majors, Tiger Woods comes into this tournament on a roll, and could be considered a favorite to win his fourth tournament of the year. Tiger has assumed the FedEx Cup Points lead, the Money leader on the PGA Tour, and now ranked second in the World, trailing leader Luke Donald by 1.4 points.
The World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational is usually considered a warm up for the PGA Championship starting next week, but an interesting detail. The total purse for this tournament is $8.5 Million with the PGA offering only $8 Million. This size of winnings certainly guarantees that we will have a full and very competitive field. I’m definitely looking forward to the action that will start Thursday morning. Fittingly, Adam Scott is your defending Champion.
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