Bridgestone Invitational farewells Firestone

It has been the one of the most anticipated tournaments on the golfing calendar for many years but with the 2018-2019 re-shuffle of PGA Tour schedule, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will cease to exist in its current form following the close of play this weekend.

The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will move to Memphis for the 2018-2019 season and will be known as the WGC-Fedex St. Jude Invitational.

Tiger Woods Tiger Woods last won the Bridgestone Invitational in 2013 (Credit: PGA Tour)

The baton will then be passed to the Champions Tour’s Senior Players Championship, which will tee it up beginning 2019 and through to at least 2022.

The course, named after the rubber baron Harvey Firestone, who built his empire in Akron before the company was sold to the Japanese-owned Bridgstone in the late 1980′s, has been home to a PGA Tour event since the Rubber City Open in 1954.

The testing layout of the South course brings out the best of the best. In the 88 events involving PGA Tour players, 38 of the winners have been major title winners and 18 are Golf Hall Of Famers.

Two of the greatest players of all time, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, have won 15 titles between them here alone. Woods has taken home eight WGC titles beginning in 1999 when he defeated Phil Mickelson by a stroke through to 2013 when he claimed the title by seven strokes over Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson.

Home state hero Jack Nicklaus won four World Series of Golf (36-hole) titles, the 1968 American Golf Classic, his 14th major at the 1975 PGA Championship and a final World Series of Golf title when it was changed to a 72-hole PGA Tour event in 1976.

“I have so many great memories of Firestone and of all the years I played here,” said Nicklaus.

“I loved coming up here. I loved playing the golf course. It suited my eye. It suited my game.”

“There were things that started here for me at Firestone,” he said. “I played in the first World Series of Golf, and, of course, won several of those and won the American Golf Classic, won the PGA Championship here. This has been a pretty special place for me.”

The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will kick off this Thursday (US time) where Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama will be the defending champion and Tiger Woods will get his final chance to become the first player to win the same title nine times.

Marc Leishman, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Wade Ormsby and Cameron Smith will be flying the flag for Australia.