Tiger Woods chases 8th win at Firestone, hopes to use Bridgestone as launching pad to PGA

  • Article by: RUSTY MILLER , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: August 1, 2013 - 11:13 AM

AKRON, Ohio — In the dark, head-to-head, 11 shots clear of the pack, from rooftops and in every other conceivable way, Tiger Woods has dominated at Firestone Country Club.

He just says it makes him feel comfortable.

"I've done it all different ways, that's the thing," Woods said Wednesday, the day before beginning his run at an eighth win at the Bridgestone Invitational. "Some years I've striped it and have really played well, and other years I've hit it all over the lot and had to be creative. I've chipped and putted and holed out. It's been such a mixed bag."

Woods, coming off a disappointing British Open and steeling for the PGA Championship next week at Oak Hill, headlines a bumper crop of world-class players who are entered. The 73-player field includes 49 of the top 50 players in the world ranking, including this year's major champions (Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson), last year's winner (Keegan Bradley) and European stars Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood.

Yet, Woods always seems to grab the spotlight. That's what happens when a player has won more than $9.5 million in just 14 appearances at a single venue.

Woods' first win, in what was then called the NEC Invitational, came in 1999 when he shot a third-round 62 to win in his third appearance, holding off Mickelson by a shot. A year later, Woods' triumphal march to an 11-shot victory on the final day was delayed by inclement weather, with his final putt finding the bottom of the cup in almost total darkness. The strobe lights of photographers made it look like a scene from an old movie.

The year after that, Woods overcame Jim Furyk in an epic, seven-hole, sudden-death playoff for his third win in a row at Firestone.

After finishing fourth, tying for fourth and tying for second the next three years, Woods strung together wins in his next four appearances. The win in 2006 is remembered for a wayward 9-iron shot that hit on the cart path near the ninth hole and bounced onto the roof of the clubhouse, the ball being pocketed by a kitchen helper.

Woods won by eight shots in 2007 and then missed the tournament the following year as he recovered from knee surgery. Even that didn't halt his string as he returned in 2009 and took advantage of Padraig Harrington's triple-bogey 8 on the 70th hole to win by four strokes.

"This is one of those courses where, for me over the years, I just have felt very comfortable," Woods said. "I think my record has been pretty good since I've turned pro here."

But, as there always seems to be with Woods since his personal meltdown, there are nagging questions. After streaking to 14 major championship victories, he has failed to win in his last 17 tries.

The latest disappointment came at Muirfield two weeks ago when he seemed in perfect spot to win but faded to a closing 74 and watched rival Mickelson come out of nowhere to swoop in and grab the claret jug.

"I had a chance to win and didn't get it done on Sunday," Woods said.

Others are plotting to not only win the Bridgestone but use it as a springboard to the year's final major a week later.

Mickelson, returning to action after the dramatic win at Muirfield, is geared up to continue his hot play. He won the Scottish Open the week before the British. Why not make it four in a row by sweeping through the Bridgestone and PGA?

"Playing the week before (a major) personally helps me play my best and get my best golf out," he said.

Rose won the U.S. Open at Merion, then turned around and had his high hopes dashed when he missed the cut in his homeland's national championship. After time off, he's rejuvenated and ready for golf's version of the stretch run.

"You can't rest on your laurels," he said. "After the U.S. Open I had time constraints and would miss the odd practice session. Your game soon lets you know about that. The last couple of weeks I've had the chance to get back to normal, get back to doing all the right things."

A player trying to salvage what has been a winless calendar year is Rory McIlroy, still No. 3 in the world rankings behind Woods and Mickelson. But he's encouraged by looking back at where he was just about a year ago.

"I was really searching last year for answers," he said. "I've come to the conclusion that I just need to go out there and play. I was focusing too much on mechanics and technique, and I just needed to go out there and see the shots and play them. Obviously, that seemed to work well."

It worked so well that McIlroy had a top 10 at the Bridgestone and then turned around and captured the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

Bradley, who took advantage of Furyk's double bogey on the 72nd hole to win last year, gets wired just coming to Firestone, an historic old layout that has hosted many memorable majors and regular tour events over the decades.

"Because of the history of the golf course, you really can feel it," he said. "It's one of these courses where you can tell the tournament has got a little more of a buzz to it."

This year, the buzz is especially loud.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa 0 Bottom 5th Inning
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 59 3rd Qtr 5:30
Chicago 61
Cleveland 2:30 PM
Houston
Golden State 5:00 PM
Boston
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Indiana
Portland 5:00 PM
Sacramento
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Orlando
Oklahoma City 5:30 PM
LA Lakers
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Denver
Los Angeles 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Tampa Bay 4:00 PM
Florida
Columbus 4:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 6:00 PM
Washington
Anaheim 7:00 PM
Dallas
St. Louis 8:30 PM
Vancouver
SMU 12 1st Half 7:41
Connecticut 18
Quinnipiac 20 1st Half 8:04
Manhattan 21
Fairfield 15 1st Half 9:01
Niagara 15
Marist 18 1st Half 6:53
Rider 9
Iona 20 1st Half 5:40
Saint Peters 29
Oregon State 2:00 PM
California
South Florida 2:00 PM
Houston
Marquette 2:30 PM
Providence
Michigan State 3:00 PM
Wisconsin
Siena 3:30 PM
Monmouth
Pittsburgh 5:30 PM
Wake Forest
Oregon 6:00 PM
Stanford
Purdue 6:30 PM
Ohio State
Arizona State 7:30 PM
Colorado
Washington St 8:30 PM
UCLA
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 43 2nd Half 9:23
UMBC 48
Elon 54 2nd Half 8:40
Hofstra 36
Virginia Tech 43 2nd Half 7:11
Boston College 40
(8) Louisville 47 2nd Half 8:19
Virginia 47
Texas 54 2nd Half 7:40
West Virginia 40
Creighton 45 2nd Half 5:50
Villanova 47
Seton Hall 67 2nd Half 2:00
Butler 72
UNC-Wilmington 57 2nd Half 10:00
Coll of Charleston 42
(5) Maryland 56 2nd Half 7:21
(25) Northwestern 39
Saint Josephs 51 2nd Half 5:48
La Salle 43
Louisiana Tech 34 2nd Half 10:30
TX-San Antonio 40
Rhode Island 15 1st Half 9:21
Massachusetts 16
Richmond 10 1st Half 8:22
VA Commonwealth 15
Davidson 15 1st Half 7:30
Fordham 23
St Bonaventure 18 1st Half 6:34
Duquesne 18
George Mason 3 1st Half 10:10
(22) George Washington 26
Indiana 21 1st Half 7:06
(20) Rutgers 17
(12) Texas A&M 10 1st Half 11:59
LSU 21
Ole Miss 11 1st Half 6:32
(11) Miss State 13
Clemson 15 1st Half 7:43
Pittsburgh 7
Maine 19 1st Half 4:09
New Hampshire 17
Vermont 13 1st Half 6:46
Albany 24
Quinnipiac 12 1st Half 9:44
Monmouth 11
Saint Peters 16 1st Half 8:18
Siena 14
(4) Notre Dame 24 1st Half 7:42
NC State 17
Wisconsin 22 1st Half 6:32
Penn State 16
Stony Brook 9 1st Half 11:24
Hartford 10
Northeastern 18 1st Half 8:05
William & Mary 22
St Johns 11 1st Half 10:06
Xavier 7
James Madison 18 1st Half 7:14
Delaware 24
Towson 2:00 PM
Drexel
Illinois State 2:00 PM
Bradley
Southern Ill 2:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Northern Iowa 2:00 PM
Wichita State
Minnesota 2:00 PM
(17) Iowa
(15) North Carolina 2:00 PM
(16) Duke
Alabama 2:00 PM
Auburn
(9) Florida State 2:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Arkansas 2:00 PM
Missouri
Georgia 2:00 PM
Florida
Dayton 2:00 PM
Saint Louis
Drake 2:05 PM
Missouri State
Colorado 3:00 PM
(10) Arizona State
(19) Stanford 3:00 PM
Oregon
Marquette 3:00 PM
DePaul
Southern Miss 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Vanderbilt 4:00 PM
(6) Tennessee
(2) South Carolina 4:00 PM
(13) Kentucky
Utah 4:00 PM
Arizona
Ohio State 4:00 PM
Nebraska
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close