For a solid decade, you couldn't carry a conversation about the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational without including Tiger Woods. Firestone Country Club's South Course is golf's version of "The House that Ruth Built" for the 78-time PGA TOUR winner.
Since the WGC label was affixed in 1999, replacing the popular World Series of Golf that dated back to the official beginning of this tournament in 1976, Woods has won seven of the 13 editions held at Firestone (Sahalee Country Club hosted in 2002; Woods finished fourth). He's earned more at Firestone ($9.36 million) than on any other course in his career.
The most commonly supported angle to explain Woods' success anywhere is his propensity to beat up on the par 5s. However, par-70 Firestone boasts only two of them, and, at 667 yards, the signature 16th is the longest hole played in any non-major. In 2012, it was one of only five par 5s all season that averaged over par at +0.036.
Firestone can stretch to 7,400 yards, making it the longest par 70 on the PGA TOUR. Primarily dry conditions last year allowed for a tournament-record average driving distance of 313.8 yards. In fact, since data was first maintained in 2001, of all courses, only Montreux Golf and Country Club's average of 314.7 yards in 2011 is greater. Montreux hosts this week's additional event, the Reno-Tahoe Open, but it has the contributing factor of altitude at about one mile above sea level.
While the field at Firestone was crushing it off the tee, it's hardly a surprise that accuracy checked in at a paltry 49.18 percent. That's the lowest in its recorded history (dating back to 1992) and fourth-lowest of all courses played in 2012.
In terms of scoring, Firestone averaged 70.695, its highest in three years. The field hit 60.77 percent of the greens in regulation (15th-lowest) and got up and down for par 56.78 percent of the time (21st-lowest). It surrendered a par-breakers percentage of just 17.01, making it the 11th-most difficult track on which to pick up strokes.
Seasonably cool conditions will extend throughout the week. Cloud cover could keep temperatures in the mid-70s. Mild threats for rain and storms exist on Thursday and early on the weekend. Moderate winds could freshen as the energy encroaches.
NOTE: For similar characteristics among recent winners at Firestone, please look for "Stats Suggest" in The Stats Report on Wednesday.
|Power Rankings: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational|