This week, the PGA Tour visits one of the most iconic tracks the field will see all year for the WGC (World Golf Championship) Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, OH. Firestone is relatively long, with the par 70 South Course coming in at 7,360 yards, including one of the longest par 5s around, measuring a monstrous 667 yards. The South Course, in particular, is likely to invoke fond memories for golf fans, including Jack Nicklaus’ 1975 PGA Championship win and the 2000 World Golf Championship NEC Invitational, where Tiger Woods pulled off the “shot in the dark”.
Even though Tiger has won this tournament 7 times, all eyes will be on defending champion Adam Scott this week. Unfortunately for Scott, that is not entirely because he is the reigning champion; many people want to see how he responds after one of the worst meltdowns in British Open history two weeks ago at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s. If Scott is still reeling from basically handing The Claret Jug to Ernie Els, he is by no means expressing it outwardly. His exchanges with the media this week seemed to be fairly normal, and Scott explained that he went back to his home in Switzerland to decompress for a few days after the British Open.
When asked about the few days following the British Open, Scott said: “They were okay. To be honest, I really just felt a bit shocked and almost numb of feeling about it. I certainly didn’t beat myself up and have to curl up in a corner. But it just all kind of happened so fast, even looking back on it, how quickly it can slip away. And without doing that much wrong, it was just compounding mistakes. You know, I felt overall the whole week and the way I’ve looked at it is I played some amazing golf and did what I needed to do, and the things I’ve worked on are obviously working. The next few days were quiet, but they were just the same as after any other major. I pretty much find myself on the couch for about 48 hours after a major.”
Those comments certainly do not intimate that his confidence is shaken. We can only speculate what Scott is truly feeling on the inside, however.
Tiger is the odds on favorite to win this week, going off at about 5 to 1, followed by Luke Donald at 14 to 1, Adam Scott at 16 to 1 and Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, both at 18 to 1. My money is on Scott to come back with a vengeance. While he may not win, he is going to prove to the world that he has the ability to move on from the collapse at the British Open and he will continue to compete at a high level.