Fans Star Gazing, Players Ready for Bridgestone Invitational

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AKRON, Ohio-- More than 70 of professional golf's elite are gathering in Akron, prepared for the start of the Bridgestone Invitational at the Firestone Country Club.

The prestigious tournament will feature a field from which there are several favorites, including Phil Mickelson, fresh off of wins at the Scottish and British Open; U.S. Open champion, Justin Rose; seven-time Bridgestone champion, Tiger Woods and defending Bridgestone champion, Keegan Bradley.

"Coming here, it's such a good feeling. It's because of the history and the golf course. You really can feel it. It's one of those tournaments you can feel. It's got a little more of a buzz to it," said Bradley on Tuesday, recalling the great memories he has after winning last year.

"Seeing the people and them being so happy that I'm back here; it's just a lot of really great memories and I think it's just very easy with a tournament like this where you have good vibes, good memories got, get off to a good start," said Bradley.

Also in Akron on Tuesday was pro golfer Nick Price.

Now the captain of the International Team for the President's Cup, Price recalled winning at Bridgestone 30 years ago, and still seeing his pictures in the Firestone Country Club Clubhouse.

"As a 26-year-old, it was quite intimidating to say the least; but it launched my career, started my career here in the U.S.," Price said on Tuesday.

For fans, the Bridgestone Invitational has become a place to star gaze. Young fans were eager to try and get autographs of their favorite players as they left the driving range after taking practice swings.

Among them was Justin Rose who beamed about the Bridgestone course and the level of competition.

"You know I've been lucky enough to win a world golf championship and in the aftermath you look back on it and you think, hey I have beat the top 50 players in the world in one week and that's a pretty special thing to say and why they are very great events," said Rose.

Also in the field are other pros working hard to make their mark, including Boo Weekley, winner of the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

"When you get to play against the world's best, it's always fun because you see how you stack up against them at the end of the day," said Weekley.

Mickelson has become a fan favorite and his recent victories have only helped propel him to super-stardom.

"Just excited every day that I've got the Claret Jug, that I get to look at it every day," said Michelson, who said he keeps the jug with him.

"I'll have some of my friends and so I think that's the coolest gift is to give friends of mine the opportunity to drink out of the Claret Jug and take a picture of it. That's just a cool memory that not many people get to do," said Michelson.

"As I have won a few majors, I look back on those years later and I just reminisce and really enjoy that moment and I am looking forward in the coming years to look back and remembering Muirfield (site of the British Open), remembering the '13 open and remembering all the many things that happened on the back nine and sharing with Bones (his caddy;) but right now I'm playing as well as I ever have and want to make sure I stay focused and ready to play this week and next week because i think there is opportunity to add and to make this year as special as it can be," said Michelson

The first round of competition in the Bridgestone Invitational begins on Thursday.

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