Tiger Woods is thrilled to be back at a very happy hunting ground as he prepares to launch his bid to win a ninth WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title.
Woods returns to Firestone Country Club for the first time since 2014 as the venue plays host to this tournament for the last time before it heads to Memphis next year.
And Woods, who secured the last of his eight wins here in 2013, was delighted to qualify for this week’s event, which will see all of the world’s top 50 players go head-to-head on a course he called one of his favourites.
He said: ‘I’m excited to be back. I haven’t played in a few years but it certainly wasn’t exactly easy to get back in this event.
‘I’ve had to play well this year and I’m just really excited about being back here and playing the South course.
‘I’ve always been a fan of this golf course ever since I first played here in 1997. I’ve always enjoyed it.
‘I remember playing here before it was even the World Golf Championships, the World Series of Golf.
‘So it’s always been one of my favourite golf courses on the entire tour.
‘The people have always come out and supported this event. This has been one of the very few tournaments that is kind of a small-town atmosphere.
‘It’s a very simple, straightforward golf course, which we don’t see very often anymore. I’m just excited to be here and be able to play.
‘As far as the future of this event, I know it has to move and it has to go forward and off to Memphis but it’s one of the reasons why I tried so hard to get in this event, because it does mean something special to me.’
World Number 50, Woods heads to Akron fresh from finishing in a share of sixth place at the Open Championship two weeks ago.
Woods held the outright lead at Carnoustie heading into his back nine on Sunday but dropped three shots in two holes and never regained the momentum.
And the 14-time Major Champion feels he is in good shape and ready to win again after recovering from a long-term injury.
He added: ‘I think that I went from just hoping to be able to play the tour, you know, to now that I feel that I can play the tour.
‘I certainly can win again. I’ve had an opportunity to win a couple of times this year. I had a great chance at Valspar early in the year, and even a week ago I had a great shot at it.
‘My game’s got better and good enough where I feel like I can win again out here on tour.’
Credit: European Tour