By Ryan Lewis
Beacon Journal sports writer
It’s just how the scheduling falls. The Bridgestone Invitational’s field includes all of the biggest names in golf every year, but many in the field spend this week at Firestone with one eye trained on the upcoming event on the schedule, next week’s PGA Championship, the final of the four majors.
The Bridgestone, due to the field and the accompanying FedEx Cup, is one of the bigger tournaments on the PGA Tour. But it’ll always take second place to the four majors, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship.
Martin Kaymer, as someone who’s played in the Bridgestone and then went on to win the PGA Championship the next weekend (in 2010), won’t be taking Firestone lightly or viewing it as a tune-up for one final run at a major this season. It’s too important.
“It’s not really fair only to prepare for next week because this is a big, big tournament,” Kaymer said. “I come to Firestone to play well here and then on Sunday afternoon, Monday, I prepare for the PGA Championship. I’m not really thinking ahead because this tournament is too valuable to me.”
That value comes from the loaded field, making it one of only a handful of tournaments in which to be tested against the best in the game. It also comes from the course, which isn’t quite set at major championship conditions, but plays tough enough.
“You should never underestimate [Firestone],” he said. “The scores, they’re never really low. If you shoot 10-, 12-under those four rounds, you have a very good chance to win. It’s very tough. Even the fairways because there are a lot of side slopes. The greens are fast, a lot of slope on the greens. It’s a brilliant test.”
And considering the loaded field and difficult course, a test you can’t cheat.
Hunter Mahan will not play this weekend in the Bridgestone Invitational, the PGA Tour confirmed Monday. Mahan’s wife, Kandi, went into labor this past weekend while he was competing in the RBC Canadian Open. He withdrew from the tournament after receiving the news, and the couple celebrated the birth of their first child, daughter Zoe, early Sunday morning.
Mahan, who is ranked No. 22 in the World Golf Ranking, won the Bridgestone Invitational in 2010.
This year’s field now includes 48 of the top 50 players in the world. Louis Oosthuizen, ranked 12th, qualified but will not play.
Also not playing after qualifying are Jordan Spieth and Peter Senior. Spieth is the 19-year-old who won the John Deere Classic a few weeks ago, becoming the youngest player to win on Tour in 82 years.
Of the 19 first-time players in this year’s tournament, England’s David Lynn is perhaps the newest. Lynn was the last player to qualify after he slipped into the top 50 (50th) in the World Golf Ranking on Monday. Lynn has two top-5 finishes this year, at the Wells Fargo Championship (second) and The Honda Classic (tied for fourth).
Humana’s national Walkit Challenge has made several stops along the PGA Tour and will now be at the Bridgestone this week.
Humana hands out pedometers to fans and then tracks the total number of steps taken throughout the tournament. The winning event will win a new, multigenerational playground to be built in an area of need in the local community.
Fans can pick up a free pedometer at the Humana Walkit station, located in the Fan Zone behind the 18th green, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. The current number to beat is 13.8 million steps, set at The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., in May. The Bridgestone Invitational is the third-to-last stop with an event in the competition.