|Course(s)||Firestone Country Club
|Length||7,400 yards (6,767 m)|
Japan Golf Tour
|Prize fund||$8.75 million|
|Tournament record score|
|Aggregate||259 Tiger Woods (2000)|
|To par||−21 Tiger Woods (2000)|
|2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational|
The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is a professional golf tournament, one of the annual World Golf Championships. It is sanctioned and organized by the International Federation of PGA Tours and the prize money is official money on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. The event, sponsored by NEC through 2005 and known as the WGC-NEC Invitational, was established in 1999 as a successor to the World Series of Golf, which was also sponsored by NEC.
The tournament changed sponsorship in 2006, with Bridgestone taking over from NEC as title sponsor. As a part of the original five-year sponsorship agreement, the event continues to be held at its traditional site of the South Course of Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio; the sponsorship has now been extended to 2014.
The WGC-NEC/Bridgestone Invitational
The current event has a field of about 75 players, roughly half the number for a standard professional golf event. Invitations are issued to the following:
- Playing members of the last named Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup teams (whichever was played last).
- Players ranked among the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking (one week and two weeks prior to event).
- Tournament winners of worldwide events since the prior year's tournament with an Official World Golf Ranking Strength of Field Rating of 115 points or more.
- The winner of one selected tournament from each of the PGA Tour of Australasia, Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour and two selected tournaments from the Japan Golf Tour.
From 1999 to 2001, only the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams were eligible and the field was about 40 players. Prior to 2011, both Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams were eligible.
All events have been held at the South Course of Firestone Country Club, except the 2002 edition. It was played at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington, which hosted the PGA Championship in 1998.
World Series of Golf
From 1976 through 1998, the PGA Tour event at Firestone Country Club was the "World Series of Golf," and was sponsored by NEC beginning in 1984. It was founded as a four-man invitational event in 1962, comprising the winners of the four major championships in a 36-hole event. A made-for-television exhibition, the competitors played in one group for $75,000 in unofficial prize money, televised by NBC.
The inaugural edition in September 1962 included only the "Big Three" of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player. Palmer had won two majors that year and a fourth competitor was not added. Palmer shot a course record 65 in the first round on Saturday, but fell back with a 74 on Sunday. Nicklaus won with 135, four strokes ahead of Palmer and Player. Nicklaus, age 22, won a then-staggering $50,000, with $15,000 for second and $5,000 each for third and fourth, split between the other two for $12,500 each. The highest paying major at the time was the Masters with a winner's share of $20,000; Nicklaus had won $17,500 at the U.S. Open at Oakmont, which included a sizable $2,500 playoff bonus from the extra day's gate receipts, well-attended due to the presence of favorite son Palmer.
In 1963, Nicklaus won two majors, so a fourth player was added to the World Series via an 18-hole playoff between the three men who had lost playoffs in that year's majors; Palmer and Jacky Cupit in the U.S. Open and Phil Rodgers in the Open Championship. Palmer prevailed in the August playoff by five strokes. Nicklaus repeated as the World Series winner in September, one stroke ahead of Julius Boros, with Palmer in third and Bob Charles in fourth.
In the final year of the four-man format in 1975, Tom Watson won with a two-stroke advantage over runner-up Nicklaus. The money was the same as in 1962, except that third place received $7,500, claimed by Tom Weiskopf. Nicklaus had won his second major of the year, the PGA Championship, at the same course a month earlier. In the fourteen editions of the event, Nicklaus played in ten, won four, and finished as runner-up in six.
In 1976, it became a 72-hole, $300,000 PGA Tour event and its field was initially expanded to twenty; the victory and $100,000 winner's share went to Nicklaus. The largest first prize at a major in 1976 was $45,000 at the PGA Championship.
The World Series of Golf quickly became a leading event on the tour. For many years a victory in it gave a 10-year exemption on the PGA Tour, the same as was granted for a victory in a major championship at that time, and twice as long as is given even for winning a major now. The field consisted of the winners of all the high status men's professional golf tournaments around the world in the previous twelve months. This was quite different from the criteria for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational listed above, but produced much the same sort of global field.
World Series of Golf winners
|NEC World Series of Golf|
|1998||David Duval||United States||405,000|
|1997||Greg Norman (2)||Australia||396,000|
|1996||Phil Mickelson||United States||378,000|
|1994||José María Olazábal (2)||Spain||360,000|
|1993||Fulton Allem||South Africa||360,000|
|1992||Craig Stadler (2)||United States||252,000|
|1991||Tom Purtzer||United States||216,000|
|1990||José María Olazábal||Spain||198,000|
|1989||David Frost||South Africa||180,000|
|1988||Mike Reid||United States||162,000|
|1987||Curtis Strange||United States||144,000|
|1986||Dan Pohl||United States||126,000|
|1985||Roger Maltbie||United States||126,000|
|World Series of Golf|
|1982||Craig Stadler||United States||100,000|
|1981||Bill Rogers||United States||100,000|
|1980||Tom Watson||United States||100,000|
|1979||Lon Hinkle||United States||100,000|
|1978||Gil Morgan||United States||100,000|
|1977||Lanny Wadkins||United States||100,000|
|1976||Jack Nicklaus||United States||100,000|
World Series of Golf (unofficial event) winners
- Palmer won an 18-hole playoff between the three runners-up of the two majors' playoffs in 1963.
- Third place was $5,000 in first three editions.
- "World Series of Golf back for final time". The Augusta Chronicle. AP. August 27, 1998. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
- "While Palmer fades, Jack blooms to win golf's first World Series". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. September 10, 1962. p. 12.
- "Micklaus is winner in golf World Series". Milwaukee Journal. press dispatches. September 10, 1962. p. 11.
- "Palmer, Cupit, Rodgers In Series Playoff". Lodi News-Sentinel. UPI. August 17, 1963. p. 8. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- Mooshil, Joe (August 21, 1963). "Palmer golf win adds glitter to 'World Series'". Ellensburg Daily Record. Associated Press. p. 8. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- "$50,000 win for Nicklaus over Boros". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. September 9, 1963. p. 11.
- "World Series of golf to start". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. September 11, 1964. p. 1-C.
- "Tony beats holes, beds, saves title". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. September 14, 1964. p. 12.
- "Tony Lema victor in World Series". Eugene-Register Guard. Associated Press. September 14, 1964. p. 3B.
- "Tom Watson easy victor as Jack, others foozle". Spokesman-Review. Associated Peess. September 8, 1975.
- "Littler Has Many Thanks". The Dispatch (Lexington, North Carolina). UPI. September 12, 1966. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- "Coody in Front By Three Strokes". Reading Eagle. AP. September 12, 1971. p. 60. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- "Player, Trevino, Brewer Face Nicklaus In Series". Lewiston Morning Tribune. AP. September 8, 1972. p. 14. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- "Player Favored, Nicklaus Favorite In Prestigious Golf World Series". The Ledger (Lakeland, Florida). AP. September 7, 1974. p. 3B. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- "Nicklaus Has Ax To Grind". Evening Independent (St. Petersburg, Florida). AP. September 5, 1975. p. 5-C. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- "Now golf has a real World Series". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. August 29, 1976. p. 7B.
- "Nicklaus silences his doubters". Palm Beach Post. wire services. September 6, 1976. p. D1.