Downplaying the absence of Tiger Woods from this week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational would be foolhardy.

Downplaying the absence of Tiger Woods from this week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational would be foolhardy.

One of the most decorated golfers in the game’s history, Woods won six titles in the event’s first nine years, including 2007 when he was the only player in the field to break par.

That came on the heels of memorable feats such as his course record-tying 61 in the third round in 2000, his seven-hole playoff victory over Jim Furyk in 2001, his recovery from the trees on No. 18 in his one-shot win over Chris DiMarco in 2005 and his four-hole playoff win over Stewart Cink in 2006.

ACL surgery two days after winning the U.S. Open in June will sideline Woods the rest of the season. Firestone Country Club probably won’t feel the same when the practice rounds get under way Tuesday.

Still, this year’s Bridgestone Invitational has the potential for some interesting storylines.

The other 2008 majors winners -- British Open champion Padraig Harrington and Masters winner Trevor Immelman -- are part of the field. Harrington rose 11 places to a career-high No. 3 in the world golf rankings after defending his British Open title at Royal Birkdale. In addition to his Masters win, Immelman also was runner-up at the Stanford St. Jude Championship.

Kenny Perry, No. 16 in the world rankings, will try to win his fourth title this year. At 47 years, 11 months and 3 days, Perry became the oldest player in PGA Tour history to win three in a season with his victory at the John Deere Classic. He also won The Memorial Tournament in Dublin and the Buick Open.

Geoff Ogilvy has a chance to join Woods as the only player to win all three WGC tournaments. The 30-year-old Australian was the winner at this year’s CA Championship and the 2006 Accenture Match Play Championship.

The Bridgestone Invitational has been a bigger hurdle for Ogilvy. In three previous trips to Firestone, his best finish was a tie for 36th in 2006.

Furyk has five top-10 finishes at Firestone, more than anyone in the field, but the 38-year-old American has yet to win a Bridgestone title. His best finish came in 2001 when he was runner-up to Woods after their marathon playoff.

Justin Leonard has nine top-10 finishes in his last 24 events while missing the cut only once. He has risen from 158th to No. 27 in the world rankings.

Other than Woods, Stewart Cink, Darren Clarke and Craig Parry are the only players to win the Bridgestone Invitational. Cink, the 2004 champion, ranks No. 8 in the world and has seven top-10 finishes this season.

German Martin Kaymer was the European PGA Tour’s rookie of the year in 2007. This year he won the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and BMW International Open while finishing second behind Woods at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Reach Repository sports writer Mike Popovich at (330) 580-8341 or e-mail