Open Champion Rory McIlroy will lead the 33 European Tour Members to this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, where he will be looking to add a maiden WGC title to his three Major wins.
The Northern Irishman’s triumph at Royal Liverpool GC a fortnight ago completed the third leg of a career Grand Slam, and he will hope to continue his stunning form on the other side of the Atlantic after a week off celebrating his victory.
“I just want to think ahead and go forward and try to win as many tournaments and as many Majors as I can, because I feel like there's a lot more left in me,” said McIlroy, after becoming the third Northern Irishman to win The Open Championship following Fred Daly (1947) and Darren Clarke (2011).
“After my second Major at Kiawah I kicked on for another six months and played really well. I want be to be the guy who goes on and wins Majors regularly and wins tournaments.”
McIlroy will have to overcome a number of in-form European Tour players, including Spaniard Sergio Garcia, the man he beat into second place at The Open, and England’s Justin Rose, who won the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open the week before finishing tied 23rd at Hoylake.
World Number Three Henrik Stenson, who was tied second last year, will also be looking for another strong performance, as will those on the fringes of the automatic qualifying places for the 2014 European Ryder Cup team. With a US$9million on offer and only five tournaments left to qualify, players such as Stephen Gallacher, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Miguel Angel Jiménez could do with a strong showing to move up the World Points List.
Of the 33 European Tour Members, five are making their first appearance in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational - Victor Dubuisson, Brendon de Jonge, Estanislao Goya, Alexander Levy and Fabrizio Zanotti. The latter three are making their WGC debuts.
Defending champion Tiger Woods will continue his comeback from injury and will be looking to build on his colossal record in the event. He has won eight times from 14 appearances, and has twice won three years in a row – 1999, 2000 and 2001, and 2005, 2006 and 2007.