Local man recalls golf history as Akron preps for Bridgestone Invitational

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AKRON, Ohio - When he was nine years old, Paul Lazoran says he walked to the Firestone Country Club to get a job and was told to go home.

"I walked over in the summer of 1951 looking for a job and I remember the old golf pro told me, he said, 'look, you're too young and too little; come back in a couple of years,'" said Lazoran.

Seeing the disappointment in his face, Lazoran says he was given a job cleaning clubs. Firestone has been a part of his life ever since.

Since 1960, the country club has hosted PGA championship tournaments. It has been the site of the prestigious World Championships of Golf Bridgestone Invitational since 1999.

Paul Lazoran has seen it all.

Lazoran says he has not missed a single tournament at Firestone in more than 60 years.

He was caddy for Arnold Palmer here in 1964 and for Gary Player when he won here in 1965.

As he walks past every tee and every green on the Firestone course, he can recall a story about something exciting that happened there.

At the challenging 16th hole: "This is where Nicklaus made the fantastic par in the 1975 PGA to go on to win the tournament​."

On 17: "This is where Palmer made 8 one year - cost him the tournament. So you can make birdie here or you can make a big score," said Lazoran.

"The most famous thing I remember about number 9 is the shot that Tiger Woods hit over the roof. He hit his second shot and it caught the cart path and went over the roof and they searched forever for the ball and couldn’t find it," said Lazoran.

Lazoran has been a teaching pro at Firestone and has managed the locker room. He has been on a first name basis with some of golf's greats.

"You think you are good until you go out and play with them. They are way out ahead of us."

Lazoran is a legend at Firestone for all he remembers and has witnessed at the course.

He believes the technology, the pristine nature of the courses and the fitness of the professional golfers today make the game better than it has ever been.

And as the club prepares to host the 2017 Bridgestone Invitational, he says he won't be missing it either. He believes more golf history is waiting to be made here.

"This means everything to Akron. This tournament is fantastic. It's one of the best on tour. I think you have got the best 50 players in the world."

"As long as I am alive I will keep coming. As long as I am able to get here - because I have been to every one of them - and I think I'm the only person alive who can say I have worked every single one of them​."

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