Tuesday, 29 July 2014
The Gary Player Trophy  (Getty Images)
The Gary Player Trophy (Getty Images)

Race to Dubai leader and Open Champion Rory McIlroy will get his campaign for a maiden World Golf Championship title under way alongside Matt Kuchar in the opening two rounds at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

The Northern Irishman has a decent record in Akron, and has registered three top ten finishes in a row from 2010, the best of which came two years ago when he tied for fifth.

McIlroy and Kuchar will head out from the tenth at 1040 on Thursday, the final group of the morning session, and hot on the heels of Open runner-up Sergio Garcia and fan-favourite Phil Mickelson.

Much like the man who beat him into second place at Royal Liverpool just a few weeks ago, Garcia has never won a WGC title, and he has a mixed past at this event. His best finish in fact came on his first start in Akron, when he posted a tie for seventh in 1999.

Few golfers have shown better form at Firestone than Luke Donald, with the Englishman on a run of three consecutive top ten finishes that started with a runner-up in 2011. The former World Number One will get his campaign under way at 1000 from the first tee on Thursday, alongside former US Open winner Webb Simpson.

The morning will also see a couple of European Tour debutants make their WGC bow, with Tano Goya and Alexander Levy out at 0930 from the first.

As for the afternoon players, there is a line-up chocked with top talent, and few more dominant at this event than eight time Champion Tiger Woods. He won 12 months ago to continue his fine run of form, and he will have US Open winner Martin Kaymer for company from the first at 1420.

That is the third of four marquee two balls to close out the afternoon’s play, with Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler – who, like Garcia, finished second at the Open – teeing off at 1400. Just ten minutes later will see Masters Champion Bubba Watson get under way alongside World Number One Adam Scott, who won his only WGC title here in 2011.

The final pairing of the afternoon will see last year’s Race to Dubai Number One Henrik Stenson tee off with Bill Haas. The Swede finished second in this event a year ago, and he will be one of the favourites to capture a maiden WGC title this week.

Stephen Gallacher is also having a great season so far after his second consecutive Omega Dubai Desert Classic win back in February, and he will hope for a strong showing alongside Ben Crane from the first tee at 1320.

The Scot is currently in the mix for a Ryder Cup debut on home soil later this year, and a strong showing in Akron could help seal his place on Paul McGinley’s team for Gleneagles.



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