Four-time Major winner McIlroy is hoping history repeats itself as Firestone Country Club plays host to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational for the last time before the tournament moves to Memphis next year.
The Northern Irishman tasted victory at this event in 2014 in between winning The Open at Royal Liverpool and the US PGA Championship at Valhalla, and with the tournament set to move on from Ohio next year McIlroy, who finished in a tie for second at The Open two weeks ago, is keen to put in another strong performance this week.
“This has always been one of my favourite weeks of the year,” said the three-time Race to Dubai champion. “I’m sort of sad it’s going to be the last one here. I’ve always played great here. I use it as a week to try and work on my game and if I get myself into contention, then that’s just a bonus.”
McIlroy came from behind to see off the challenge of Sergio Garcia on Sunday afternoon as he lifted the trophy four years ago and he credited the fast start he made to his final round as the catalyst.
“I remember the first five holes of Sunday,” said McIlroy. “I started three behind Sergio. I got off to a really hot start. I birdied four of the first five holes, and that was me off and running.
“It was cool because I had the mindset of coming here, trying to work on my game a little bit, and then all of a sudden you find yourself in the final group and you get off to a hot start like that. It was nice to get off to that hot start, and then you sort of control the tournament from there and find a way to win.”
World Number 50 Tiger Woods heads to Akron fresh from finishing in a share of sixth place at The Open two weeks ago, returning to Firestone Country Club for the first time since 2014, with the last of his eight wins at this venue coming in 2013. The 14-time Major Champion feels he is in good shape and ready to win again after recovering from a long-term injury.
The fans’ support today, and all week, was amazing. Thanks for making my return to links golf something I’ll never forget. pic.twitter.com/Om5evUtWFS
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) July 22, 2018
“I’m excited to be back,” said Woods, who has won the event eight times. “I haven’t played in a few years, but it certainly wasn’t exactly easy to get back in this event. I’ve had to play well this year and I’m just really excited about being back here and playing the South course.”
Meanwhile, World Number Two Justin Rose has withdrawn from the event due to a back injury, with the Englishman’s focus to remain healthy ahead of the US PGA Championship next week.