Category: Bridgestone Invitational
Golf.com will live-blog the opening round of the Bridgestone Invitational, beginning with Tiger Woods' opening shot at 9:20 a.m.
Forget Goodyear. Golf balls were flying on wings of their own Thursday at Firestone.
The first round featured three drives over 400 yards, and a ridiculous 58 over 350, according to Randall Mell of the GolfChannel.com. That number was no doubt helped by Bubba Watson, who paced the field with a comical average of 351.5. That's nearly 40 yards longer than his tour-leading season average of 313.7. And jumps like that were seen accross the board. Even light-hitting Jim Furyk averaged 309 yards a pop en route to a first-round 63, a mere 30 yard uptick over his season average.
Of course, no one does it quite like Bubba:
Watson hit his driver 11 times in the first round.
How many fairways did he hit?
“I don’t know,” Watson said. “I shot 4 under. That’s all I know.”
Yes you did, Bubba. Fire away.
Phil Mickelson's been conspicuously and quite publically off his game of late. But, apparently, he's in full control of his mystic powers.
As Jason Sobel reports at GolfChannel.com, Mickelson played a practice round with Ben Crane before the Bridgestone Invitational and was a big part of Crane's opening round 66. How did he help? Well, let's go to the quote:
“It was a super fun group,” Crane said. “Phil has helped me. I spent some time with him a few weeks ago, and we spent some time together, and he's helped me and encouraged me. He was calling himself the golf whisperer out there, helping me some with some shots and stuff.”
It's a little buried in there, but yes, Mickelson was calling himself "the golf whisperer." Move over, Bagger Vance. Now, if Lefty could only see "the field" himself. Where's Will Smith when you need him?
But who will be on the bag?
Tiger Woods, who has been resting his injured left knee and Achilles tendon since withdrawing from the Players Championship in May, is expected to return at next week’s Bridgestone Invitational, which begins Aug. 4 at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, according to The Guardian UK.
Tiger Woods, expected to announce this week that he is returning to action at the Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday, is out of the world's top 20 for the first time since January 1997.
Woods has until this Friday at 5 p.m. Eastern time to officially enter the event, which would be his first Tour event since firing longtime caddie Steve Williams.
Manager says Darren Clarke ‘almost broke’ before Open win
Necessity is the mother of invention. It’s also pretty good motivation for playing well in a major.
According to The Daily Mail (UK), Darren Clarke solved some short-term money problems by cashing in with his British Open win.
Open winner Darren Clarke's big payday came just in time to avert a major cash crisis, his manager Chubby Chandler has revealed.
'The timing could not have been better,' he said. 'Darren has had a big cash flow problem.'
Apart from collecting the Open's €999,000 prize money ($1.43 million), Clarke also picked up a long-awaited €2.2million bonus ($3.15 million) from his clothing sponsors Sports Direct and Dunlop, along with other undisclosed bonuses expected from his endorsement of Taylor Made clubs and other equipment.
The 42-year-old, who has several properties dotted around the globe, was hit hard by the worldwide recession and was strapped for cash when he arrived in Kent for the year's third Major.
Tweet of the Day
From CBS Sports’ Steve Elling...
Tiger's dominance of the PGA Tour and much of the sports and advertising world over the last decade or so has had all kinds of economic repercussions, including those related to TV viewership. Like Arnold Palmer before him, Tiger in his prime attracted unprecedented ratings, largely due to his ability to draw casual and even non-golf fans to the tube, and advertising revenues, among other things, boomed as a result. But according to a story in the New York Post, the latest numbers on Tiger are less than inspiring: viewership of the Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday was down 51% over last year when Tiger won the event, and down 34% from the previous year, when Tiger didn't even play.
How do we interpret these numbers? People love to see Tiger play, and win.
The bottom line: Tiger's immense popularity doesn't just affect sports fans. A lot of people whose livelihoods revolve around the game of golf will feel the effects if Tiger doesn't get his game back together.
Mickelson says #1 World Ranking will happen
Ever since Tiger's ill-fated date with an Orlando fire hydrant, there's been an interesting secondary story that golf fans have been watching closely: Phil Mickelson's attempt to surpass El Tigre as the world's No. 1-ranked golfer. During his professional career, Tiger has held the top spot for 612 weeks, including the last 270 in a row. To give you an idea of how dominating he's been, the only other golfer in the history of the World Rankings to hold the top spot for over 100 weeks is Greg Norman, who had it for 331. And nobody other than Tiger has held the number one ranking since Vijay Singh gave it back to Tiger in June of '05.
Though this story has been of major interest to golf fans and pundits alike, Phil has only recently come clean about his desire to unseat his rival. But after Tiger's debacle in Akron it seems Lefty not only wants the top spot, he expects it. According to a report from The Press Association, Mickelson has said, "it will eventually happen, I believe," when asked about becoming the world's number one ranked player. This is clearly a long way from the aw shucks attitude he often displayed in the past, and yet another indication that Tiger's dominance, and intimidation factor, are a mere shadow of what they once were.
The bottom line: People have doubted Tiger before and paid for it. This time the doubters could be right.
Whistling Straits - great or not?
There's little doubt that those who watch the PGA Championship this week will enjoy some amazing views of Lake Michigan and Pete Dye's diabolical Whistling Straits layout. But is the course, ranked No. 3 on Golf Magazine's Top 100 Courses You Can Play, really worthy of a major championship? When asked about the "greatness" of the course by Peter Kessler this morning, Geoff Shackleford said:
I love watching it and admire many elements of the design, I wouldn't want to play it nor do I think most golfers can get around, which DQ's it from the greatness category for me. (By comparison, Pebble Beach and the Old Course can be played by just about anyone.)
In his column, John Huggan got even more medieval on the Wisconsin track:
On the plus side, it is a visually spectacular venue, one that will afford the television cameras many opportunities to showcase the surrounding landscape; on the down side it represents much that is depressing and foolish about modern golf architecture and the game itself. Not only is Whistling Straits, like so many of America's high-profile courses, stupidly expensive to play, it must cost a fortune to maintain and, whisper it, lost balls are not uncommon, even for accomplished players. Last time, by way of example, former Edinburgh nightclub bouncer Vijay Singh won a three-hole play-off with Justin Leonard and Chris DiMarco. How exciting was it? Suffice to say that the lanky Fijian shot 76 and made but one birdie during his 21-hole final day.
So, what do you think? We want to know. Please post your opinion on Whistling Straits and it's legitimacy as a major championship venue in the comments section below.
AKRON, Ohio -- England's Lee Westwood withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational here Friday afternoon, and also indicated that he has withdrawn from next week's PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
Westwood injured a calf muscle the week after the British Open and apparently aggravated the problem at Firestone. He played the first two rounds with Tiger Woods and shot 71-76 before his withddrawal was announced.
"I will be out for as long as it takes to get better," he said in a statement. "I am just hoping that it will be in time for me to play in the Ryder Cup."
The Ryder Cup will be played Oct. 1-3 in Wales.
You'd think it would be pretty easy to find a hotel room in Akron, Ohio. It's the rubber capital of the nation, not the tourist capital.
But since the Bridgestone Invitational was moved to the week before the PGA Championship, a scheduling switch to accommodate the FedEx Cup playoffs, the tournament overlaps with the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in nearby Canton. (Yet another example of the intersection of golf and the NFL.) Hotel rooms are scarce and, when available, expensive. Hoteliers aren't happy with the situation; what used to be two weeks of brisk business has now merged into one.
Even though the PGA Tour was the latecomer to this date, Commissioner Tim Finchem said there isn't much he can do about it, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.
"This date works perfectly for getting every top player here," he said Wednesday after speaking at an Akron Roundtable Luncheon. "That's not so easy. This is the perfect week for the international players because they're coming in to play next week (in the PGA Championship). Our difficulties are more serious than the NFL's, but I can't speak for (NFL Commissioner) Roger Goodell.
"We wouldn't mind moving it, but we want to do what's in the best interest of the tournament. That has broader implications than what's happening here. It's a global event. It's a prize event for our television partners and one of the reasons is because of the field."
The Bridgestone used to work just fine when it was held the week after the PGA Championship, but positioning it there now before the four-week playoff run would create a whole new scheduling problem for players. As the Beacon Journal noted, however, the event does come with a nice perk. The first prize for this limited-field event is $1.53 million, larger than any of golf's four major championships.
Tiger Woods fuels Ryder Cup speculation
If you're wondering whether Tiger Woods will play in the Ryder Cup, or if he'd be a wild-card pick if he doesn't make the team on points, you'll have to keep wondering. Woods wouldn't offer any information or opinions Wednesday despite persistent questioning, and subsequent criticism, from Steve Elling of CBSSports.com:
Too many times to mention over the years, Tiger Woods has bemoaned the notion that many speculative stories have been authored about him with little basis in fact. Wonder why that is? Offered the opportunity to put an increasingly hot-button issue to rest on Wednesday, he waffled and only contributed to the speculation that he might not play in the upcoming Ryder Cup matches in Wales.
I asked him three direct questions about making the U.S. team as an invitee and not as an automatic selection. For your amusement and illumination, here's the verbatim exchange:
Q. There's been a lot of speculation on the Ryder Cup. We're two weeks out from locking up the top eight. If you were asked to go as a captain's pick, are you all in?
Woods: "I'm planning on playing my way into the team."
Q. If it doesn't happen….
Woods: "I'm planning on playing my way into the team."
Q. That's still kind of an equivocation.
Woods: "I'm planning on playing my way into the team."
Elling finished his column by blaming Woods for the speculation that surrounds him.
Woods drew laughs with his stubbornness, but with a simple answer, he could have cleared up the discussion and ended the questions. Let the conjecture continue. He rekindled the speculative bonfire himself.
Watson dines on award
The late comedian Red Buttons relied on his "Never got a dinner" routine when he used to appear on the old celebrity roasts. Well, Tom Watson got a dinner when he was honored as this year's Ambassador of Golf, awarded by the Northern Ohio Golf Charities. Watson has been very involved in fundraising for ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ever since it claimed the life of his long-time caddie, Bruce Edwards. Watson has also made several trips to entertain U.S. troops in the Middle East.
You know you've made it when you finally get a dinner -- and a painting. The Firestone clubhouse features paintings of previous award-winners, and Watson was impressed with the company he's now keeping, according to the Beacon Journal.
"Everybody from Bob Hope to Bing Crosby to Jack Nicklaus to Barbara Nicklaus to Pete Dye, Deane Beman, there's just a variety," Watson said. "It's the people that comprise the whole fabric of the game and to be included in that is a great honor."
Watson capped off his special night with a special dessert.
Said Watson: "I saw the old waitress and I said, 'Do you still have that butterscotch pie?' And she said, 'It's not butterscotch, it's crunchy cream.' I said, 'It sure is butterscotch to me.' She came to me 15 minutes later and said, We're making you one."