AKRON — Sunday marks the final chapter of a two-decade run of World Golf Championship events at Firestone Country Club.
The Bridgestone Invitational’s most decorated winner always loves playing there. In fact, eight-time champion Tiger Woods doesn’t think it’s far-fetched for Firestone’s South Course to host a major one day.
"This is one of the great classic golf courses," Woods said after Saturday’s third round. "All it is is about a month away from you can host whatever major championship you want. Just dry it out, maybe grow in the fairway here and there and you have a major."
Firestone hosted the PGA Championship in 1960, 1966 and 1975. Ohio native Jack Nicklaus followed up a Masters victory in 1975 by winning the fourth of his five career PGA Championship titles. It also was his 14th career victory in a major.
With the exception of 2002, a WGC event has been held at Firestone every year since 1999. The Akron tournament will move to Memphis, Tenn., next year and be replaced at Firestone by the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship.
Woods and Marc Leishman talked about the possibility of Firestone hosting a major during Saturday’s round. They played in the same group.
"It wouldn’t take much at all," Leishman said. "Narrow the fairways a little bit, grow the rough, and especially if it was firm. If it was firm, you don’t have to do anything to the golf course to have a major here.
"I think it would be a great venue for a major."
Reed addresses Browns
Former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed, his 2012 Super Bowl ring on a chain around his neck, stopped at Firestone before heading to Canton for the Hall of Fame induction of former teammate Ray Lewis.
Reed revealed that he spoke to the Browns rookies during training camp at the invitation of coach Hue Jackson, the Ravens’ quarterbacks coach from 2008-09.
"It was good to see those young guys and just give them some knowledge on how to be a professional and letting them know they can be the group to turn this organization around. That’s the mentality they’ve got to have," Reed said.
"They can’t have the mentality that ‘Oh, we’re the Browns and we don’t win.’ Everybody’s thinking you’re going to win four or five games. I’m like, ‘Look here, you’ve got to think championship. Think championship every year, regardless of what you do.’ I remember when we were getting our butt kicked and didn’t make the playoffs, but we still had a championship mentality."
Reed said he told Jackson, "‘Whatever you need, I will come back and talk to those guys.’"
Reed had 64 career interceptions, 12 against the Browns, his most against any opponent. Told that Cavaliers writers referred to LeBron James playing rover on defense as the "Ed Reed role," Reed considered that a compliment.
"Get out of here, nice. I appreciate that," Reed said. "No doubt about it, to be compared to the King when he was here, anywhere, yes."
A 10-handicapper who lives in Atlanta, Reed will likely be a first ballot Hall of Famer in 2019. He has plans for a celebration at Firestone, even though the World Golf Championship will move to Memphis next year.
"I heard," Reed said of the move. "I would hope to have my event whenever they induct me into the Hall of Fame, hopefully I can have it here."
Justin Thomas’ grandfather, Paul, probably still knows his way around Firestone. He played in the PGA Championship that Firestone hosted in 1960.
"He cracks me up," Thomas said. "He just showed up on the range today. I have no idea how he got in. I don’t know how he got a seat. He’s just sitting there on the range."
Paul Thomas saw Justin earn his only Web.com Tour victory in 2014 and hopes to witness a ninth PGA Tour win by his grandson on Sunday.
"He’s just ... he’s awesome," Thomas said. "I love spending time with my grandma and grandpa. They crack me up just listening to them talk. So it’s cool having them here and it would be really, really special to win with them here."
A birdie and an eagle to start the day put Patrick Cantlay on the brink of cracking the top 10.
Then came a disastrous few minutes on No. 3.
A triple bogey on No. 3 dropped Cantlay further back. His approach shot hit the water. After finally reaching the green, he three-putted.
Even with the dreadful score on No. 3, Cantlay recovered to card a 2-under 68 and is tied for 11th at 6-under for the tournament. He finished his round with one eagle, six birdies, three bogeys, one triple bogey and seven pars.
Ormsby’s fast start
Wade Ormsby got off to a fast start with five birdies on the first six holes. He finished 2-under for the day and is tied for 34th at 2-under for the tournament.
Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 ranked player in the world, was paired with Ormsby during the third round and posted a 66. Johnson is tied for 22nd at 4-under.
Thomas will try to become the ninth third-round leader or co-leader to win the Bridgestone Invitational. Woods last did it in 2013. ... Rory McIlroy enters the final round tied for second with Ian Poulter, three shots off the lead. McIlroy made up a three-shot deficit in the final round when he won the 2014 Bridgestone Invitational. ... McIlroy (67), Johnson (66) and Rickie Fowler (65) played bogey-free rounds Saturday. There have been 14 in the tournament. ... Three mascots were spotted on the South Course: Zippy from the University of Akron, Flash from Kent State University and Chomps from the Browns.