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The Suburbanite
  • Tiger Woods turns back clock at Bridgestone Invitational

  • In a vacuum, the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational could just as easily have been the 2001 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and Tiger Woods was the reason.

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  • In a vacuum, the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational could just as easily have been the 2001 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and Tiger Woods was the reason.
    From the well-attended news conference before his practice round on Wednesday to the final putt of his seven-shot victory on Sunday, Woods seized the focus at Firestone Country Club. His Sunday round amounted to a victory march for four-plus hours as a gallery of hundreds grew to thousands by day’s end.
    The field never threatened his lead following Woods’ round 61 on Friday. His final round 70 was nearly as pressure-free as his recent vacation in the Bahamas with his children, Sam and Charlie.
    “I think the total body of work is pretty good,” Woods said. “I think the one thing I’m proud of is, obviously, how many times I’ve won, how many World Golf Championships I’ve won and how many years I’ve won five or more times in a season.”
    When the round ended, he picked up Charlie on his way to the clubhouse and noted that it was the first time his son had seen him win a tournament in person.
    As he walked the fairways, Woods was the target of constant shouts from the crowd. Some were simple encouragement, others were ridiculous humor. Woods occasionally waved to a shouting fan or interacted with children who lined the ropes along the fairway.
    By the time he reached the final three holes, 16 cameras ringed the greens and the stands were full on every hole.
    An eighth win at Firestone could propel Woods to success for the PGA Championship and beyond. However, he pointed out prior to the start of the tournament that past results in Akron have not always been harbingers of his future performance.
    “I’ve had times when I haven’t played well coming into this event and sometimes it turns it around,” Woods said. “And I’ve had times where I’ve played well and it continued.”
    AROUND THE COURSE
    Woods was far from the only fan favorite at the tournament. Phil Mickelson, fresh off his win at the British Open, received a raucous welcome when he teed off before his first round. Mickelson struggled to a 1-over-par 281, but had positive feelings about the event.
    “It’s just a wonderful, straightforward test of golf,” Mickelson said. “It (the course) was n wonderful shape and it’s a great place to have a World Golf Championship (event).”
    Rickie Fowler, one of the top young players on tour, played to the crowd by donning Cleveland Browns colors on Sunday, complete with bright orange shoes that stood out from virtually any spot on the course.
    Rory McIlroy, who has struggled all year long, drew a large gallery as well, despite remaining well off the lead all weekend. He left Akron feeling his game is headed in the right direction.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Today, I played nicely, (had) a couple of bad holes on the back nine,” McIlroy said. “Definitely going in the right direction.”
    Reach Andy at 330-899-2872 or andy.harris@TheSuburbanite.com.
    On Twitter: @aharrisBURB