AKRON -- The world's best golfers are teeing it up in Akron this week at the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron. This year's tournament is missing two of its biggest stars. Eight-time winner of this event, Tiger Woods did not qualify for this year's Bridgestone Invitational and last year's defending champion, Rory McIlroy, is at home nursing an injury.
"Obviously, some players don't admit it, but it's quite nice that he (McIlroy) is not here. He's one guy who's very, very good in shape and he's not playing. On the other hand, you really hope that he comes back soon," said PGA golfer, Martin Kaymer.
Seventy-seven golfers are part of this week's event in Akron at the Bridgestone Invitational. Twenty-five countries are being represented at this week's event, the most in tournament history. Among those competing: the second-ranked golfer in the World Golf Rankings, Jordan Spieth.
"It would be yet another dream come true for this year," Spieth said. "At the beginning of the year, I wanted to work my way up the World Rankings. I didn't think I could be in this position or have this opportunity."
Wednesday the gates opened to the public ahead of Thursday's opening round. Wednesday was a practice round for the golfers and a chance for spectators to get autographs, take pictures of their favorite golfers and get up close to the action.
"We're big Phil (Mickelson) fans," said Kelli Wyss of Jackson Township. "My children like Jordan Spieth; we're Jordan fans. I think a real golf fan will miss Tiger (Woods) because this is kind of his event, but I think there is other people to root for too."
"My son and I we just want to follow Jason Day a little bit being that his wife is from our area and Dustin Johnson just because he pounds the ball so far and Rickie Fowler, just because he seems like a pretty cool dude," said John Skoloda of Poland, Ohio.
The first group tees off at 9:25 a.m. Thursday morning. Jordan Spieth tees off at 2:15 with good friend Zach Johnson.