The World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational will host all the major Irish players, fresh after their trip to Killarney for the Irish Open, and will also see the return of Tiger Woods.
It was a disappointing weekend in Kerry for Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington after both failed to make the cut and McIlroy and Graeme McDowell will also feel they could have done better in front of the Irish crowd, as they finished tied for 34th and 25th respectively.
Clarke’s sights will be set on totally different goals this week however as he has been paired with the returning Tiger Woods, who will play his first round of competitive golf in three months on Thursday.
The last time Woods played was in the Masters in April when his storming last day effort nearly saw him challenge for the title but eventually finished tied for fourth as he his young competitor Rory McIlroy crashed out of the lead in devastating fashion.
Both McIlroy and Clarke go into the tournament as newly crowned major champions and McIlroy will be hoping to emulate the success of Tiger, who in his first year to win a major also won this event and then went on to win it another six times.
The 22 year-old Ulsterman is paired with Hunter Mahan, last year’s winner of this tournament, and will tee-off at 9.50am, just 20 minutes after compatriot Graeme McDowell who has a tough pairing in world no. 2 Lee Westwood.
G-Mac celebrated his 32nd birthday in Killarney over the weekend and he will have no doubt wished for a win in the Firestone Country Club in Ohio come Sunday.
Harrington’s disappointment at both his Irish Open form and his play in general culminated on Saturday as he parted ways with his long-term coach of nearly 15 years Bob Torrance.
The three-time major winner has had to struggle with a shoulder injury recently to add to his problems and will do well to outplay his playing partner Justin Rose.
Other pairings of note include world no. 1 Luke Donald and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel; Phil Mickelson will tee-off with Australian up-and-comer Jason Day; and world no.2 Martin Kaymer will be head to head with Florida’s Bubba Watson.
Irish Open champion Simon Dyson will be confident after his win in Killarney where he finished 15-under par and will be paired with American Bo Van Pelt.
Sportsnewsireland.com will have live score updates on all GAA Championship matches over the summer.