AKRON, Ohio — Round one of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational teed off in Akron on Friday drawing media and fans from all over the world to the Firestone Country Club South Course.
More than 70 of the world’s best golfers are competing for the prestigious Bridgestone Tournament trophy and the $1.5 million winnings.
A large crowd was on hand Thursday showing their support for favorites who include Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Jordan Speith and Tiger Woods.
Woods, who has won here multiple times, teed off at 2:20 p.m. He is trying to get his game back on track following back surgery.
Credentialed media from across the globe is following the international event.
Fans have come here from across the country, including Natalie Wagner and her mother, Sharon, of Erie, Pa., whose family scheduled a vacation around the tournament.
“It’s just exciting and fun, and it’s neat to see the players as people as opposed to celebrities on TV. We like to come for the practice rounds we can get up close and autographs, pictures,” said Sharon.
While the golfers make what they do look easy, people working the event also describe the crowd as exciting.
“You got the fans following them around, you know, you have got the big fan favorites here like Ricky Fowler know Tiger, Phil, people constantly yelling when they are walking, so yeah there’s a lot of starstruck going on,” said Bruce Wright, of Akron.
The tournament continues through the weekend.
Round one leaders, that include Ryan Moore of the United States and Carl Schwartzel of South Africa, often change by the final round of the tournament.
Tiger Woods was shaking off a weak early start to climb among a tightly packed group of golfers under par.
“It’s incredible to see how amazing how these guys can hit the ball and how long and straight, at Firestone there’s a lot of trees a lot of trouble so its amazing,” said Khammone Rassavong, of Akron.
For more on the Bridgestone Invitational, click here.