Lowdown: Firestone has been a happy hunting ground for Tiger Woods - he’s won this tournament six times, including three years in a row from 2005-2007. In that last victory he won by a staggering eight shots. Woods wasn’t in the field in 2008 as he was still recovering from knee surgery and it was Vijay Singh who took advantage of the World Number 1’s absence. He recorded a one-stroke victory over Lee Westwood and Stuart Appleby. Westwood will probably be the most heavily backed of the 25 Europeans in the field this week as he looks to join Darren Clarke as the only European winner of the event. Woods, however, is back in action and is fresh off a victory in last week’s Buick Open. He’ll be aiming for a “hat-trick” – that win, followed by another WGC title this week, capped off by a 15th Major title at the USPGA Championship at Hazeltine next week. At 7,400 yards with a par of only 70 Firestone will present a tough challenge to the top players who will be looking to hone their games with just one week to go before the year’s final Major.
Venue: Firestone Country Club, Akron, Ohio Course stats: par 70, 7,400 yards Purse: $8,500,000, Winner: $1,350,000 Defending Champion: Vijay Singh (-10) TV coverage: Thursday 6 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7pm Friday 7 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 7pm Saturday 8 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 5.30pm Sunday 9 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 5pm Player Watch: Tiger Woods – He won last week and has six wins at Firestone. He’s never placed worse than a tie for fourth in this tournament so it’s difficult to look past him this time out. Lee Westwood – A victory here would be the perfect way to put the disappointment of the Open Championship behind him. He was second here last year and has finished in the top-10 in each of his last three starts. He’s long overdue a significant win. Retief Goosen – Another man who’s on good form at the moment. The South African has finished in the top-5 here in his last two outings. Key hole: 16th. A 667 yard par 5 that’s a true three shotter. A pond in front of the green means even the longest hitters can’t get there in two. Skills required: Strength – Not only does this course require long hitting but the thick rough also demands powerful recovery play. Expect the long straight hitters and the strong “escape-artists” to cope well.
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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?
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