After two weeks outside the United States, the PGA Tour returns to America this week for the World Gold Championship-Bridgestone Invitational.
Despite its spot in the schedule — directly ahead of the PGA Championship — this is not a typical tune-up. Boasting one of the strongest fields of the year, the Bridgestone Invitational should provide plenty of excitement.
Firestone Country Club (South) is a 7,400-yard par 70 located near Akron, Ohio. The tree-lined layout is one of the toughest on Tour. With just two par 5s, birdies can be hard to find on this long course. The par-5 16th plays over 600 yards with a pond guarding the green.
Firestone has hosted a WGC event since 1999, proving to be one of the best courses on the calendar.
Dustin Johnson held off Scott Piercy to win by one stroke. The win came in the midst of his dominant summer, which carried over into the early part of this season. Johnson has two missed cuts in his last four starts, but a t-8 last week hinted that better from is on the horizon.
Jordan Spieth (world ranking: 2) — Currently riding a two-tournament winning streak, Spieth enters the week with a ton of confidence. After struggling with his putter early in the year, he is back draining putts like he was in 2015. He finished t-3 here last year, and t-10 in 2015.
Rory McIlroy (4) — With a new caddie in hand, McIlroy will try to build off his promising Open Championship showing. Putting has been an issue for McIlroy this season. He won here in 2014 and finished t-5 in 2012, so he might be able to break his winning slump at a familiar venue.
Brooks Koepka (10) — Koepka followed up his U.S. Open win with a t-6 at Royal Birkdale. This long course should set up nicely for his game, but his best finish here is a t-6 in 2015. A win this week puts him among the game’s best players.
Adam Scott (17) — Despite his steady drop down the world rankings this season, Scott is a threat on this course. He won here in 2011, and he has three other top-15 finishes since. Putting and inconsistent ball striking have combined to nearly wash out his season, but a win could save things in a hurry.
Justin Rose (13) — Highlighted by a runner-up finish at the Masters, Rose has quietly put together a solid season. With five top-4 finishes worldwide this season, and three top 5s here since 2012, Rose should be a formidable opponent.
Former top golfers Henrik Stenson and Bubba Watson have had seasons to forget up to this point, but both have shown signs of life in recent weeks. Watson finished second here two years ago, and Stenson has two top 10s here since 2013.
Europeans Thomas Pieters and Tommy Fleetwood are also in good form entering the week.
Horse for the Course
Rickie Fowler has finished in the top 10 (t-10, t-10 and t-8) in each of the last three years. He also finished t-2 in 2011, proving he’s one of the most consistent players on this course.
Fowler, ranked 11th in the world, also has seven top 10s already this year.