Friday 25 May 2018

Bridgestone memories can put Fire in Rory's belly

McIlroy will hope that his Bridgestone return can ignite a charge and light up his run to the end of the season. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
McIlroy will hope that his Bridgestone return can ignite a charge and light up his run to the end of the season. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Rory McIlroy triumphed in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, one of four Tour titles he won in an eventful 2014 campaign, on this day three years ago.

That performance on August 3, 2014, in which he shot 66 on the Sunday for 15-under par, earned the Northern Irishman a win by two shots ahead of closest challenger Sergio Garcia.

It was his last appearance up to this week in the prestigious event at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. He missed 2015 due to injury, and opted for the enhanced Ryder Cup points on offer at the French Open last year.

After the furore surrounding his parting of the ways with caddie JP Fitzgerald, McIlroy will hope that his Bridgestone return can ignite a charge and light up his run to the end of the season.

He does so in illustrious company, teeing off at 8.10am local time (13.10pm Irish time) alongside the 2017 Open champion Jordan Spieth and world number seven Jason Day.

The marquee group will certainly occupy huge attention from the media and the galleries.

Spieth comes off a magnificent Claret Jug victory against the odds at Royal Birkdale, and has his sights set on a US PGA victory at Quail Hollow next week to complete the career Grand Slam.

Day has been desperately seeking a return to winning ways, and as for McIlroy, well, we don't really know what to expect, although he should have taken positives from his tied fourth-placed finish at Birkdale.

The opposition, however, is formidable.

Credentials

World number one Dustin Johnson, who won this tournament last year, Jordan Spieth, and a host of other hungry top ranked players have strong credentials for victory ahead of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

An elite field of 76 starters will compete in the Bridgestone Invitational, which has no cut.

The South Course, a par-70 layout, puts a premium on accuracy, particularly off the tee.

Adam Scott, who won the tournament in 2011, summed up the challenge.

"Firestone is a ball-striker's golf course. If you miss fairways, usually you're just pitching out. I'd hate to try and win a tournament there by scrambling," he said.

Meanwhile, Padraig Harrington and Seamus Power play in the Barracuda Championship in the white heat and altitude of Reno, Nevada today where Montreux Golf & Country Club is the host venue.

The tournament has a modified stableford format which places the emphasis on an aggressive approach and enhances the entertainment value.

A double-eagle earns eight points; an eagle is worth five points; a birdie two points. Par gets zero points. A bogey is -1 point, and double-bogey or more is -3 points.

Power is 126th in the FedEx Cup rankings, and has the Reno event and the Wyndham Championship (August 17-20) to get inside the 125 mark to retain his PGA Tour card for next season.

Elsewhere, amateurs Leona Maguire and Olivia Mehaffey are in action today in the Women's British Open at Kingsbarns in Scotland.

Lexi Thompson of the USA, the world number two, plays alongside the defending champion and world number one So Yeon Ryu.

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

Live, Sky Sports Golf, 6.30pm

Women's British Open

Live, Sky Sports Golf, 11.0am

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