This week the world’s best golfing superstars take to Firestone Country Club in Akron, OH for the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. The final major of the year is next week so this is a chance to see whose prep is on the right track. There is, as always however, a sub-plot going on.
What a difference a year makes. Going in to this tournament last year Tiger Woods was unstoppable. He hadn’t played many tournaments but he had already won four events out of ten starts and was looking somewhat reminiscent of the much-feared Tiger of the 00’s. Of course he went on to win that week, he even equaled Jose Maria Olazabal’s course record of 61 on the second day. This was his eighth career victory in this tournament.
So why am I asking if this could be a make or break week for Tiger? He has now played in two events since his extensively covered return from injury and during his pressers at The Open was talking of his return to strength etc. He played some decent golf at Royal Liverpool and made the cut. Now normally for Tiger Woods making the cut is no big deal but I would argue that given lack of fitness and playing time make this one. He has now had a further two weeks to build fitness and regain more of his touch (hopefully on the greens as this is letting him down). He has to fancy his chances this week if for no other reason than previous form. Tiger practically owns this event and, as always, given one good performance could really springboard the rest of his season. If Tiger wants to feature at Gleneagles in the Ryder Cup it is looking more and more like he will need a wildcard pick from Tom Watson. In order to get this he needs to at least get some top-10 finishes under his belt. Of all the events he has played this year this will be his best chance to garner some momentum.
The fourth and final major of the golfing calendar is the PGA Championship at Valhalla next week. What this week’s WGC event will do is provide us with a glimpse of how Tiger is playing on a course that suits him. I suspect it will be much like The Open and we’ll see some glimmers of greatness but maybe not much else. You always have to remember that we’re talking about Tiger Woods though. A man who is arguably the best to have played the sport. Form is a mere set of statistics and he has to be thought of as in contention any time he tees it up.
I predict a good tournament from Jim Furyk this week. He had a good tournament at Royal Liverpool finishing fourth and has a handful of second place finishes recently including Canada last week. Rickie Fowler is having an amazing season too. He has started working with Butch Harmon and his swing is looking the best it ever has. Finally my third pick for this week is Jordan Spieth. I just really want to see this guy get a win under his belt!
Photo credit: progolfnow.com