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Bridgestone Invitational 2014 — tee offs, tunes, Galley Boys for gallery

7/31/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

Fans entering the Bridgestone Invitational will be greeted by the World Golf Championship (WGC) logo. The Akron event is the third of four WGC tournaments.
Alexander Lévy, who was born in California and now resides in France, was one of the golfers who arrived July 28 for the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Bubba Watson, winner of the 2014 Masters, will be one of the golfers to watch at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Photos: Craig Marks
AKRON — Usually, the calls at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational are for “Quiet, please.” This year, there might also be calls to “Make some noise.”

The tournament begins today, July 31, and continues through Aug. 3 at Firestone Country Club. After the second and third rounds, musicians will hold court in the “Fan Zone” behind the 18th green. Eric Hutchinson will take the stage Friday around 6:30 p.m., and the band Winslow will rock the gallery around 6 p.m. Saturday.

But with all due respect to the musicians, those aren’t the rock stars fans are coming to see.

The world’s greatest golfers, including 2014 British Open champ Rory McIlroy and 2014 Masters winner Bubba Watson, once again will be teeing off on the South Course, looking to win the $1.5 million first-prize check and Gary Player Cup. This is the third World Golf Championship event of the year, with the finale to be held in Shanghai in November.

Over the years, the South Course has witnessed its share of thrills and fantastic finishes, as well as its share of Tiger Woods simply leaving everyone else in the dust. The latter was the case again in 2013, with Woods winning his eighth Bridgestone title by seven strokes.

The only drama last year was whether Woods would break the course record in his second round. (He tied it, with a 61.) It was a glimpse of the Woods of old, but he had difficulty rekindling that magic after leaving Akron. Woods, limited by back problems, has not won since, and he finished six over at the British Open.

Both McIlroy and Watson finished in 27th place (2 over) last year at Firestone. McIlroy had a better go of it in 2012, finishing tied for fifth, five shots behind the winner, Keegan Bradley.

Last year, Watson made news when, after his second round, he purchased dinner for more than 60 people who were in line at the Chipotle in Green. If a golfer wished to do something like that this year, he wouldn’t need to leave the course.

Located in the Fan Zone will be the Taste of Ohio Café, which will include the Swenson’s food truck and booths for other local vendors such as Strickland’s Ice Cream and Baja Pizzafish. For those who would like their food with a helping of frustration, they can try the Green Monster Challenge, which returns to the Fan Zone this year. The Challenge allows fans to tackle a replica of the South Course’s infamous 16th hole.

Coverage of the Bridgestone Invitational will be provided by the Golf Channel and CBS. For ticket information, visit www.worldgolfchampionships.com or call 330-644-2299.

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