OPEN champion Phil Mickelson looks set to be the centre of attention once again this week when he returns to action at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.
The new world No2 is in red-hot form and aiming for a third consecutive victory, having also claimed the Scottish Open just days before his Muirfield triumph earlier this month.
But Mickelson faces a hugely competitive field at Firestone Country Club, with the injured Louis Oosthuizen the sole member of the world’s top 50 not scheduled to tee off on Thursday.
Lefty’s fellow American Keegan Bradley is the defending champion, while Masters champion Adam Scott is another recent winner and world No1 Tiger Woods has won there no fewer than seven times – although his last triumph was in 2009.
It also offers a final opportunity for players, such as Rory McIlroy, to rediscover some form before the year’s fourth and final Major, the USPGA Championship, next week.
One Northern Irishman who has found his touch is Michael Hoey, who landed his first European Tour title since March last year by four shots at the Russian Open. Hoey had not even finished higher than 25th in 15 outings this season so will have been very pleased and has shot up 118 places in the rankings, to 175, as a result.
I must also mention the Senior Open at Royal Birkdale, which finally concluded yesterday morning after a play-off that lasted five holes and went into a second day.
Bernhard Langer played some sublime golf and I cannot believe he didn’t win it. To see a two-shot lead going into the last hole of regulation play disappear must have been incredibly painful, but credit to American Mark Wiebe for the victory.
Finally, Inbee Park will be taking a shot at history at the Women’s British Open at St Andrew’s this week. The South Korean has won the year’s first three Majors and could be the first woman to make it four.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam