The preparation for the fourth and final major of the season begins in a big way this week in Akron, Ohio, as golf's best players will converge on the South Course at Firestone Country Club for the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
The 7,400-yard, par-70 course, aptly named 'The Monster' by golfing legend Arnold Palmer back in his heyday, will present a number of difficult challenges for the field regardless of how weather conditions shake out during the week. In addition to the 667-yard par-5 16th hole that figures to test even the longest of hitters, all three of the South Course's par-3 holes each requires a long, precise shot from the tee in order to walk away with a birdie.
With a who's who of the sport's elite all in attendance and looking to make a big splash with a victory this weekend, it's clear that this year's event should once again go down as one of the most coveted non-major tournaments in golf. Seven-time champion Tiger Woods headlines a stacked field of competitors, as the former No. 1 hopes to re-tame the South Course after a pair of disappointing efforts the last two years.
Defending champion Adam Scott will also be looking for a bit of redemption himself after coughing away the 2012 British Open last month, while the usual batch of contenders of Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald and Bubba Watson should each be among the leaders through the weekend. Scott will definitely be a name to watch for early on especially, after the 32-year-old Aussie fired an improbable 62 on Thursday last year to take command of the tournament.