Tiger Woods and other big names commit to Bridgestone Invitational in Akron
Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth add their names to stellar field
Woods won his eighth career Bridgestone Invitational title last year.
Stan Badz / US PGA TOUR
By FOX Sports Ohio StaffFOX Sports Ohio
AKRON, Ohio -- The World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational has received three big-name commitments over the past 48 hours, as defending champion Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth have all added their names to the commitment list and will be challenging a stellar field when the event returns to Akron, Ohio, on July 30-August 3 at Firestone Country Club.
"Although the commitment deadline is not until Friday, July 25, the early addition of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth to the Bridgestone Invitational roster is a tremendous incentive for fans who have yet to purchase tickets," said Bridgestone Invitational Executive Director Don Padgett. "The Bridgestone Invitational always attracts the world's best, and we're thrilled to welcome back two of golf's all-time greats, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, along with Jordan Spieth, one of golf's up-and-coming stars who will play at Firestone for the first time."
Woods won his eighth career Bridgestone Invitational title last year by seven shots over Henrik Stenson and Keegan Bradley. It marked his second event with eight wins (Bridgestone Invitational: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2013; and Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013), matching Sam Snead's eight wins at the Greater Greensboro Open. Woods' 2013 Bridgestone Invitational win was his 18th career World Golf Championships title in 42 starts (43 now).
Woods recently returned from a 15-tournament layoff after undergoing microdiscectomy surgery for a pinched nerve in his back. He has made just four starts in the 2013-14 season thus far, with The Open Championship this week his fifth. The two-time FedExCup champion (2007 and 2009) has six weeks remaining to climb from No. 212 into the top 125 and qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs.
Mickelson has never missed a Bridgestone Invitational start, making this his 16th consecutive appearance in the event. His best finish came in his first attempt, when he was runner-up to Woods in 1999. He has posted four additional top 10s since: T4 in 2000 and 2008; T8 in 2001; and T9 in 2002. Mickelson has won on Firestone Country Club's South Course during his career, however; he captured the NEC World Series of Golf in 1996 and was runner-up the next two years prior to the inception of the World Golf Championships series. Mickelson owns two World Golf Championships titles: 2009 Cadillac Championship and 2009 HSBC Champions.
Mickelson is defending champion at this week's Open Championship. With 15 starts under his belt in 2013-14, he remains in search of his first top-10 performance of the season. Mickelson is currently ranked No. 97 in FedExCup points and has some work to do to climb into the top 30 and return to the FedExCup Playoff finale, the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, for the eighth consecutive year.
The reigning PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, Spieth comes to the Bridgestone Invitational for the first time. In his three World Golf Championships debuts this season, he has performed well, including a T5 finish at the Accenture Match Play Championship. In what produced arguably the most dramatic finish in regulation last year, Spieth, a Special Temporary Member at the time, holed a 45-foot bunker shot on the 72nd hole to force sudden death with 2012 John Deere Classic champion Zach Johnson and David Hearn. Spieth won on the fifth extra hole. His win came at the age of 19 years, 11 months and 18 days, making him the youngest player to win on TOUR since Ralph Guldahl won the 1931 Santa Monica Open at the age of 19 years, 2 months and 4 days.
Spieth is currently ranked No. 5 in the FedExCup standings. Last year, he qualified for all four of the FedExCup Playoffs events. At 20 years, 1 month and 26 days on the Sunday of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, Spieth became the youngest player to play in the event. He finished the season No. 7 in the FedExCup.