Red-hot Phil Mickelson seeks to build on Open triumph

Mickelson and Woods will both tee it up for the first time since the British Open, where Mickelson walked off with the Claret Jug while Woods was again unable to add to his tally of 14 major titles.

Updated: August 01, 2013 09:30 IST
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Akron, United States: Phil Mickelson will try to maintain momentum and Tiger Woods will try to build some at the Bridgestone Invitational, an elite World Golf Championships event that is also a last tuneup for the PGA Championship.

Mickelson and Woods will both tee it up for the first time since the British Open, where Mickelson walked off with the Claret Jug while Woods was again unable to add to his tally of 14 major titles.

"It has been really a fun time," Mickelson said of the days since he lifted the trophy at Muirfield. "I'm just excited every day that I've got the Claret Jug and I get to look at it every day."

Like Woods, Mickelson said he was looking forward to a busy stretch of high-profile events.

"We have some big tournaments coming up. We've got the big event here, a World Golf Championship, we've got the PGA next week, and our FedEx Cup. So it's a lot of golf left.

"Right now I'm playing as well as I ever have and want to make sure I stay focused this week and next week because I think there's an opportunity to add to this year and make this year every bit as special as it can be. And I want to make sure I give myself every chance to play well because I've been playing some of my best golf the last few months, as you've seen and as the results have shown."

Mickelson hasn't won at Firestone Golf Club since 1996, when he captured the NEC World Series of Golf.

Woods, who had pocketed four US PGA Tour titles before the end of May to regain the world number one ranking, has notched seven victories at Firestone. It would seem to be just the place for him to sharpen his game for a last major bid of 2013, at Oak Hill next week.

"I feel comfortable on this golf course, and I think that's the key," Woods said. "I've played it when it's been baked out and fast and is hard and other times when it's soft and slow. And the guys are saying it's a little bit softer right now, but the greens are up to speed."

Woods acknowledged that he felt he let an opportunity slip away at Muirfield, where he finished equal sixth after starting the final round tied for second.

"I had a chance to win and didn't get quite it done on Sunday," Woods said. "There were so many positives to the week, how well I hit it and how well I played. Looking back on it, the only difference is I just didn't get the feel of those greens the last few days, and I didn't make the adjustments.

"That's my fault for not making the adjustments."

Woods should be able to adjust to anything Firestone throws at him. He owns the lowest 72-hole score -- 21-under in 2000 -- at the Bridgestone Invitational, as well as the 18-hole record of 61 he posted that year, when he won by 11 strokes. Woods has also won the title twice in playoffs.

"I've done it all different ways, that's the thing," Woods said. "Some years I've striped it and have really played well, and other years I've hit it all over the lot and had to be creative, and I've chipped and putted and holed out."

The spotlight this week will also fall on Rory McIlroy, desperately trying to find his form with his defense of the PGA Championship title he won at Kiawah Island last year approaching.

McIlroy opened the British Open with a 79 en route to missing the cut by four strokes. He hasn't won a tournament all year, with pundits pointing to everything from his change in equipment to his romance with Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki as factors in his fade.

The 24-year-old from Northern Ireland is hoping that like last year, a strong showing at Firestone will prove the start of a late-season surge. In 2012 he finished fifth in the Bridgestone, won his second major title at the PGA Championship and won two of the US tour's prestigious playoff events.

"It's a great golf course," McIlroy said. "It's a golf course I feel like I can do well on ... if something similar could happen like it did last year, get a good finish here or get into contention, obviously that would set me up for the last major of the season and going on from there, set me up for the great end of the year."

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  • Golf
  • Tiger Woods
  • Phil Mickelson

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