Before we turn our full attention to the final major of the season next week -- the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits -- there's a large event taking place in Akron this week.
The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone C.C. has an incredible roll-call of past champions, including Tiger Woods (an eight-time winner at the course) and defending champion Rory McIlroy.
Unfortunately, neither of those two players -- winners of the last two WGC-Bridgestone Invitational's played, respectively -- will be teeing it up this week. For Woods, his current world ranking number is keeping him out, while McIlroy is sidelined to nurse his left ankle injury.
But even without arguably the two biggest names in golf, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational has quite the field.
Let's take a look at the five players you should be keeping an eye on this week.
5. Keegan Bradley
Best finish in 2014-15 season: T4 at the Northern Trust Open
Reason to watch: To this point, it's been just a so-so season for Bradley with three top-10 finishes in 19 starts, but none since a T8 in the Memorial at the beginning of June. He has missed the cut on three occasions, including his last start at the Open Championship. So, why then should you give him a good look this week? Because his worst finish at Firestone in four previous starts is a T15. He also won the event in 2012, tied for second in 2013 and finished T4 a year ago. You know that saying, "horses for courses?" Well, it most certainly applies here.
4. Adam Scott
Best finish in 2014-15 season: T4 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and the U.S. Open
Reason to watch: Scott hasn't played a whole lot this year -- just 11 PGA Tour starts total. When he does play, however, Scott has played well. Still, there are no wins to show for the efforts, just a season-best T4 at both Doral and Chambers Bay. Scott's last start resulted in a T10 at the Open Championship, where -- as it so often seems -- he had a chance in the final round. Scott is another player with a solid track record at Firestone, including a victory in 2011.
3. Jordan Spieth
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won the Valspar Championship, the Masters, the U.S. Open and the John Deere Classic
Reason to watch: Really? Where have you been?
2. Rickie Fowler
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won the Players Championship
Reason to watch: He's electric. Coming off a second-place showing last week at Quicken Loans National, Fowler is clearly on top of his game as we hit this incredibly grueling stretch on the PGA Tour schedule. Fowler was a runner-up at Firestone in 2011. He was a fantastic golfer then, but has become even more sensational since.
1. Jason Day
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won the Farmers Insurance Open and the RBC Canadian Open
Reason to watch: A case could be made that Day has been the best player on the PGA Tour not named "Jordan Spieth" this season. Following another heartbreaking finish in a major -- his T4 at the Open Championship -- Day went out and won the very next week in Canada. Nice bounce back. Half of his 14 PGA Tour starts this season have resulted in a top-10 finish, including his last three in a row. Day is firmly establishing himself as a leaderboard "first-pager" almost every time he tees it up. That should continue this week at Firestone.
Here's how my five to watch fared last week at the Quicken Loans National:
5. Bill Haas -- T4
4. Jimmy Walker -- T21
3. Sang-Moon Bae -- Missed cut
2. Rickie Fowler -- 2nd
1. Justin Rose -- T4
Whether he defends his PGA Championship next week at Whistling Straits or not, this is a great sign for the physical health of world No. 1 Rory McIlroy:
A video posted by Rory McIlroy (@rorymcilroy) on
McIlroy posted the video to his Instagram account on Wednesday morning. While his status for next week is still up in the air, it is nice to see the 26-year-old, four-time major winner working out without any support on that left ankle where he suffered "a total rupture of an ankle ligament" while playing soccer in early July.
Due to the injury, McIlroy has not played since a T9 at the U.S. Open. He has won twice on the PGA Tour this season -- at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play and the Wells Fargo Championship.
Our favorite trick-shot duo -- the Bryan Bros. -- had a very special guest for their latest video... world No. 1, Rory McIlroy.
The Bryan Bros. and McIlroy joined forces at Whistling Straits in mid-June during Media Day for the 2015 PGA Championship, which tees off next week (before McIlroy's injury, of course).
While there weren't any "new" tricks in this video, which doubles up as an ad for McIlroy's sponsor, Bose, it was still pretty neat to see McIlroy partake.
See it for yourself here:
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