Dustin Johnson defends WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

The world's best will contest the title at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio

Dustin Johnson defends WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
Dustin Johnson defends WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best players in the world are in Akron, Ohio this week for the year’s third World Golf Championship event. Dustin Johnson defends the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone CC.

Dustin Johnson defends the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational against an elite field at Firestone CC. Open Champion Jordan Spieth will tee it up, so too US Open winner Brooks Koepka and Masters champion Sergio Garcia.

Rory McIlroy will play and he’ll be looking to build on the form he showed at Royal Birkdale in The Open Championship two weeks ago. It emerged this week that McIlroy is splitting from his long-time caddy JP Fitzgerald. The Northern Irishman’s best friend Harry Diamond will be on the bag this week.

At 7,400 yards with a par of only 70, Firestone presents a tough challenge to the top players. The South Course at Firestone was originally designed by Bert Way back in 1929 but it was remodelled by the great Robert Trent Jones in 1960. In 1976, the course hosted the first World Series of Golf, won by Jack Nicklaus. Until 1998 the tournament was known by that name, before it became a WGC event in 1999.

Tiger Woods was a dominant force at Firestone for many years after winning the inaugural instalment of this event as a WGC tournament (then the NEC Invitational) back in 1999. He defended his title in 2000 and made it three in a row in 2001. He’s won the event five more times since then.

Last year Dustin Johnson took the title, a week after he had become US Open champion. It was his third World Golf Championship title. He's won two more since then - both the WGC events held so far in 2017.

This event was moved in last year’s schedule to accommodate The Olympics but it’s back to its usual spot, the week before the USPGA Championship.

Phil Mickelson will be playing his 19th WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He is the only player to have competed in every one since 1999.

The weather looks to be highly unsettled with thunderstorms likely to interrupt play on the first two days. The weekend should be better but the temperature should drop.

Venue: Firestone CC, Akron, Ohio Date: Aug 3-6 Course stats: par 70, 7,400 yards Purse: $9,750,000 Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson (-6)

TV Coverage: Thursday 3 – Sky Sports Golf from 6.30pm Friday 4 – Sky Sports Golf from 6.30pm Saturday 5 – Sky Sports Golf from 7pm Sunday 6 – Sky Sports Golf from 7pm

Player Watch: The big guns will battle it out at the Bridgestone, three to watch out for are -

Jordan Spieth – The Open Champion looks back to his best after claiming a third Major title. He has a good record in this event and, if his putter remains hot, he’ll be tough to beat.

Jon Rahm – This may be his debut but the long course at Firestone should suit Rahm’s game. He’s been playing well in the WGC events so far this year – tied third in Mexico and runner-up in the match play.

Brooks Koepka – The US Open winner played well at Royal Birkdale and finished in a tie for sixth. He was also tied sixth in his debut start at Firestone in 2015.

Key hole: 16th. A 667-yard par 5, it’s a true three shotter. A pond in front of the green means even the longest hitters can’t get there in two.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?