AKRON, Ohio (AP) - This is one farewell party Tiger Woods didn't want to miss.
The Northern Irishman tasted victory at this event in 2014 in between winning The Open at Royal Liverpool and the US PGA Championship at Valhalla, and with the tournament set to move on from OH next year McIlroy, who finished in a tie for second at The Open two weeks ago, is keen to put in another strong performance this week.
"It's always been one of my favourite courses on the entire tour and it's unfortunate it is leaving".
Meanwhile, world No 89 Shane Lowry makes his debut in the Barracuda Championship at Montreux Golf & Country Club in Reno looking for a win that could secure his PGA Tour card.More news: Community Shield 2018, Chelsea vs Man City
But the 42-year-old has recorded four top-10 finishes in 12 events this season and had several chances to win, most recently in the Open Championship at Carnoustie where he led by a shot with eight holes to play.
"It's managing my practice sessions, " said Woods, who is in the midst of a stretch where he will play five tournaments in six weeks.
The only downside to having a stacked field is that it makes picking players that I think will win, extremely hard.
"My training schedule, how to build myself, my recovery breaks even had to factor in how much I can practice, just to make sure I'm physically fit enough to get through this section". "I saw the positives right away and as last week went on, I started to kick myself and say, 'Maybe I could have done this and done that'". I haven't played here in a few years. "Within a year to get down to 50, I think is a pretty good accomplishment", he smiled. Most of these memories contained Tiger Woods (and we'll talk about why in just a moment), but I will also never forget Rory McIlroy's immaculate round of 15 under to steal the win from Sergio Garcia in 2014. "The first two times that I played at Firestone, I was not consistent with my ball control but now, I can move the ball around and can go for certain shots". "I am still outside the top eight and while I am going to be there either case, I'd like to be there as a player as well".More news: Judge Temporarily Blocks Downloads Of 3D Printed Gun Blueprints
"My game did not feel good [at the Open]".
"This event has been very special to me over the years", Woods said.
Having played only four tournaments in 29 months because of four back surgeries, Woods returned in December at No. 1,199 in the world.
Without a win for five often injury-plagued years, Woods felt he was in his best form of the year going into the Open.More news: Ohio State's Urban Meyer could face termination over assistant abuse claims