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5 Things You Need to Know: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

Before the world’s elite golfers take on the season’s fourth and final major, they tee it up this week at the season’s fourth and final World Golf Championships event, the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. Tiger Woods will be there. So will 49 of the top 50 players in the world. At stake is a $9 million purse. A cool $1.53 million of that goes to the victor.

Here are five things you need to know about the tournament and its surrounding area:

Keep an eye on this Tiger Woods guy
Tiger Woods wants to play in the season-ending FedExCup Playoffs, but back surgery shelved him for most of the season and he doesn’t have near enough points to qualify. Ditto for making the U.S. Ryder Cup team. But if there’s one place Woods could grab a bunch of points in a hurry, Firestone might be it. He’s won on this course eight times, including last year by seven strokes. The South Course at Firestone runs 7,400 yards long and is a par 70. Six hundred sixty-seven of those yards come at the signature hole, No. 16, which Arnold Palmer once dubbed “The Monster.” Fairway bunkers come into play off the tee, a pond guards the front of the green, and a creek runs along the right.

 Tiger Woods 600

Keep an eye out for Swenson’s
A fast-food restaurant? Yes, a fast-food restaurant. California (and, to a lesser degree, Arizona, Texas, Nevada and Utah) has In-N-Out Burger; Akron has Swenson’s. It’s a drive-in chain that, according to the company’s Twitter page, was voted by Forbes to have America’s best cheeseburger in 1999. It’s currently the No. 1 restaurant in Akron according to TripAdvisor.com users, and earned a 2014 certificate of excellence from the site. So excellent is Swenson’s that it was the first place LeBron James stopped at when he returned to his hometown after winning the 2013 NBA title. If it’s good enough for Akron’s chosen son, it’s good enough for you. Get the Galley Boy, the most famous item.

Steaks are the stars at Ken Stewart’s Grille
If you’d like a little finer dining, then head to Ken Stewart’s Grille, which also earned a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence for 2014. It also serves burgers, but you don’t go to a steakhouse for burgers. The Filet Mignons are the stars of the menu, or you could go with the Colorado Lamb Rack with raspberry glaze, or the Potato Crusted Halibut. No matter what you eat, Ken Stewart’s will have wine to match, but good luck choosing from the hundreds of bottles the restaurant has at the ready. If you’re lucky, you can grab a table on the patio.

Take advantage of the free concerts downtown
To get out and see the town, downtown Akron is the place to be, especially at night. Live music can be heard any Wednesday-Saturday night this summer as part of the summer concert series. It’s blues and jazz on Wednesday nights at Lock 4, Thursday nights are at the Akron Art Museum, and then things rock out on Friday and Saturday nights at Lock 3. Most of the concerts are free.

Sample the local brews
If you’re downtown for the concerts, you might as well stop in for a brew at the Ohio Brewing Company. The brewery recently moved to a new location, but still serves the same great beer. The Verich Gold, a light lager, won the People’s Choice Award at the 2010 Cleveland Labor Day Oktoberfest. And the Cardinal Ale grabbed a gold medal at the World Beer Championships and Best Red Ale at the 2010 Ohio Brew Week. Yet, our favorite is the spicy Buckeye Blonde seasonal.

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