Tiger Who? Star-Studded Field at Firestone Led by Goosen and Mickelson

Will Leivenberg@@will_leivenbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2010

AKRON, OH - AUGUST 06:  Phil Mickelson plays from a bunker on the 18th hole during the second round of the World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational on the South Course at Firestone Country Club on August 6, 2010 in Akron, Ohio.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

51 putts.

That's all Retief Goosen needed over the last two rounds at the WGC Bridgestone-Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, OH, where he currently holds the lead at -7.

Goosen captured six birdies in his second round en route to a four-under 66 and one of the best rounds of the day. After seven top-10 finishes this season, Goosen has paid his dues and is prepared to hoist the trophy come Sunday.

However, the weekend at Firestone will be no stroll across the fairway.

Goosen has a multitude of obstacles ahead of him, including narrow fairways, lightening-fast greens, and just a stroke behind him a lurking, long-hitting left-hander by the name of Phil Mickelson.

Since winning the Masters earlier this year and tying for fourth at the US Open, Phil Mickelson has struggled to consistently contend this season. However, Lefty seems to be in a groove at Firestone, firing a first-round four-under 66 and a two-under 68 today, currently -6 for the championship.

Mickelson's most impressive highlight of the day was his two, consecutive recovery-birdies after a double-bogey at No. 14. If he can maintain his accuracy off the tee and continue to let his short game do the talking, Mickelson may add another "W" to this year's scorecard.

But even with such experienced, talented players at the top of the leaderboard, this star-studded field at Firestone features the most eclectic, gifted players on Tour, meaning no one is a guarantee.

Case in point: Tiger Woods is a seven-time winner of this event and at this course, but just carded disastrous rounds of 74, 72 (+6), and now sits tied for 72nd. He has played himself out of contention and is no longer the story.

Just three shots back of the leader are six dangerously skilled players who potentially pose a threat this weekend: Nick Watney, Paul Casey, Lucas Glover, Adam Scott, Miguel Jimenez, and Matt Kuchar are currently -4 for the championship.

Of all these players, Paul Casey has the best chance of surging to the top of the leaderboard. Casey has five top-10 finishes this season, including a recent T-3 at the British Open and a solo 2nd at this season's other WGC event, the Accenture Match Play.

Most importantly, the 33-year-old Englishmen is a versatile player who rarely makes mistakes, which he has proven with just one bogey in his last 36 holes. Casey will be a contender down the stretch if he can continue to utilize his two critical strengths—hitting greens consistently (ranks 14th in Greens in Regulation) and sinking putts (ranks 23rd in Putting Average on Tour).

Though Dustin Johnson has become notorious for his gut-wrenching implosion at this year's US Open at Pebble Beach, literally destroying his three-shot lead and chances of a first major victory, the 25-year-old American shot the best round of the day at Firestone, a five-under par 65, now -3 and T-13.

Johnson's overwhelming strength off the tee undeniably gives him an advantage at the 7400-yard South Course at Firestone. But, he will only be a true threat if he can consistently hit greens and find a rhythm with the flat stick.

For more scores and information: http://sports.espn.go.com/golf/leaderboard?tournamentId=785