Scott returns to defend Bridgestone title
|K.J. Choi, of South Korea, is one of the top golfers competing in the World Golf Championships—Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club.|
|“Good first day of practice at Firestone! One of the best practice facilities on tour,” tweeted Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, who took to the practice green July 30.|
|Photos: Craig Marks|
|Bernd Wiesberger, of Austria, tees off from the first hole July 31, as the golfers prepared for tournament play at Firestone County Club.|
Adam Scott, of Australia, won last year’s event, finishing 17 under, four strokes better than Rickie Fowler and Luke Donald. As he walked up to the final hole, he received a nice ovation, but it wasn’t as loud and boisterous as the one given to his caddie, Steve Williams.
Williams had been Woods’ longtime caddie until getting the axe from Woods over the summer. Williams’ remarks after the Invitational, in which he called Scott’s victory “the best win of my life,” lit a firestorm at Firestone. The next day, sports-talk radio and the Twitterverse debated whether the caddie had gone over the line with his comments, and whether he had broken unwritten rules by grabbing the spotlight from his golfer.
A year has gone by and Scott and Williams are still a team, albeit one that hasn’t tasted victory since last August in Akron. They were in position to win the British Open two weeks ago before Scott finished his final round with four straight bogeys. A second victory at Firestone might help erase memories of that meltdown.
But Scott will have to navigate past a field of the world’s best golfers, including Ernie Els, who overtook Scott to win the British Open. Els, whose British Open title was the second of his career (the first was in 2002), has been a regular at Firestone. Last year, he finished in a tie for 37th.
Among those Els was tied with was Woods, who started strong with a first-round 68 but could not get below 70 in the next three rounds. Woods will be going for his eighth Firestone victory this week.
Fans heading out to watch the field, which also includes Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson, should be aware of a change in the parking policy. Public parking will now cost $5 per car, a change made, according to a press release, “in order to maximize the impact that the Bridgestone Invitational can have on local charities through tournament proceeds.” Last year, the Bridgestone Invitational, in partnership with Northern Ohio Golf Charities, donated more than $870,000 to local charities.
Cell phones are allowed on the course but should be silenced. And don’t touch your phone’s camera app once tournament play begins Aug. 2. Not only does the phony shutter sound distract the golfers (Mickelson faced a swarm of shutterbugs at the Memorial two months ago), but it could result in your smartphone being confiscated or your removal from the tournament.
For more information on the invitational or tickets, visit www.pgatour.com/tournaments/r476/.
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