2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Tee times, TV schedule for Thursday

Sam Greenwood

Can Tiger recover from an ugly final round at the British on a course where he's won seven times?

The final WGC event of the PGA Tour's regular season tees off Thursday morning in Akron, Ohio. The South Course at Firestone Country Club has long been a staple on the Tour, evolving from the NEC World Series of Golf into the modern day WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Like the other WGC events, it's a no-cut limited field tournament with players from all over the world always opting to play in Northeast Ohio the week before the season's final major.

Most of the top 50 players in the world, last year's Ryder Cuppers, and tournament winners this season will all be in attendance, including world No. 1 and 2 -- Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. As you'd expect, the Tour split the game's two most popular players up, with Tiger heading out in the morning on Thursday and Phil in the afternoon. Woods is paired with Japanese phenom Hideki Matsuyama, who matched Tiger with a T6 at last month's British Open. It would have been higher, except Matsuyama was penalized a stroke for slow play, knocking him out of a T5 finish and costing him both thousands of dollars and an automatic invite to next year's Masters (he'll likely qualify via another exemption, but still...costly, random pace-of-play enforcement!).

Woods, who has won this event seven times, will begin the week on No. 10 at 9:20 a.m. ET. While Tiger has owned this tournament in the past, he has not won since August of 2009, which immediately preceded his stunning loss to Y.E. Yang at Hazeltine in the PGA Championship. Since then, Woods has wandered in search of another major, dealing with injuries, swing changes, and personal scandal. He has history and comfort here, but it's also been the scene of two of his lowest points since that 2009 line of demarcation.

In 2010, Tiger finished 18-over, tied for 78th in second-to-last place and seemed checked out all weekend as he embarrassingly scuffled around Firestone. He would publicly enlist the help of Sean Foley the next week at the PGA. One year later, in 2011, Tiger made his first appearance without caddie Stevie Williams, the two splitting up in a messy divorce which led to Woods opting for longtime friend Bryon Bell as his looper. Williams, meanwhile, went on to carry the winning bag for Adam Scott as Tiger, who was making his first start after a lengthy injury layoff, finished with another middling result.

Those back-to-back ugly showings in Akron are two of the lower moments I can remember for Woods, but his game and surrounding staff are in an entirely different place now. This is a huge week for Woods -- he's piled up the wins over the past two seasons at the places he's most comfortable. Victories at Torrey Pines, Doral, and Bay Hill this season all came before three misses at the majors and a nagging elbow injury. After an ugly Sunday at the British Open, the way he works it around Firestone will be a key marker for next week's PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

Golf Channel will provide their customary coverage of the first two rounds, but they will be on the air an hour earlier than their typical start time. Coverage will begin Thursday at 2 p.m. ET and run until 6 p.m., featuring that afternoon pairing of Mickelson and Justin Rose, winners of each of the last two majors. This being a WGC event, almost every group could be considered a "marquee" pairing, so the p.m. coverage will also follow names such as McIlroy, Els, Garcia, Fowler, Donald, Kuchar, Stricker, Bradley... you get the idea. It's a loaded field and always one of the more fun events to watch. Here's the complete tee sheet for Thursday:

Morning wave off No. 1:

Tee Time Pairing
08:40 a.m. Matteo Manassero Scott Piercy
08:50 a.m. Brian Gay Jaco Van Zyl
09:00 a.m. Jonas Blixt Ryan Moore
09:10 a.m. Ken Duke Henrik Stenson
09:20 a.m. Shane Lowry Nick Watney
09:30 a.m. Bo Van Pelt Stephen Gallacher
09:40 a.m. Tommy Gainey Nicolas Colsaerts
09:50 a.m. Ian Poulter Kevin Streelman
10:00 a.m. Peter Hanson Russell Henley

Morning wave off No. 10:

Tee Time Pairing
08:40 a.m. Kiradech Aphibarnrat Harris English
08:50 a.m. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano Michael Thompson
09:00 a.m. Jason Dufner Chris Wood
09:10 a.m. Daniel Popovic Boo Weekley
09:20 a.m. Tiger Woods Hideki Matsuyama
09:30 a.m. Dustin Johnson Adam Scott
09:40 a.m. Graeme McDowell Billy Horschel
09:50 a.m. Lee Westwood Webb Simpson
10:00 a.m. Bubba Watson Miguel A. Jimenez

Afternoon wave off No. 1:

Tee Time Pairing
12:30 p.m. Mikko Ilonen
12:40 p.m. Steve Stricker Martin Kaymer
12:50 p.m. Satoshi Kodaira Richie Ramsay
01:00 p.m. Angel Cabrera Thorbjorn Olesen
01:10 p.m. Sergio Garcia Rickie Fowler
01:20 p.m. Bill Haas Ernie Els
01:30 p.m. Rory McIlroy Brandt Snedeker
01:40 p.m. Phil Mickelson Justin Rose
01:50 p.m. Matt Kuchar Jason Day
02:00 p.m. Luke Donald Keegan Bradley

Afternoon wave off No. 10:

Tee Time Pairing
12:30 p.m. Derek Ernst Richard Sterne
12:40 p.m. John Merrick Brett Rumford
12:50 p.m. Francesco Molinari Sang-Moon Bae
01:00 p.m. Paul Lawrie Jamie Donaldson
01:10 p.m. D.A. Points Toru Taniguchi
01:20 p.m. Jim Furyk Charl Schwartzel
01:30 p.m. Martin Laird Zach Johnson
01:40 p.m. David Lynn Carl Pettersson
01:50 p.m. Paul Casey Branden Grace

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