The Loop

Is it a tournament or a tune-up?

August 07, 2009

AKRON, Ohio -- When a tournament has World Golf Championship in its title, shouldn't it be treated as something other than a tune-up for the following week, as though it were an exhibition football game?

In fact, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational does command respect, but while doing so it doubles as a perfect way to prepare for the PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club next week.

"This (Firestone Country Club) is a great test leading up to next week at Hazeltine," Steve Stricker said Friday. "If you could find a course that is similar to Hazeltine, this would be one."

It has been a familiar refrain this week.

"It's a great test for next week because the grass length is the same, the rough is very similar, the green surfaces are very similar, same speed, same grass," said Phil Mickelson, who was practicing at Hazeltine last week. "It's couldn't be a better venue for Hazeltine. You could hold the PGA here and it would be a great site. And they have."

The PGA Championship was held at Firestone in 1960, 1966 and 1975.

-- John Strege