McIlroy returns at Firestone

Open Champion Rory McIlroy will return to action for the first time since his Royal Liverpool triumph at this week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club.

The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland claimed his third major title at Hoylake but has yet to taste success in a World Golf Championship event.

But it is also a big week for McIlroy's potential teammates at September's Ryder Cup.

With a $9million prize fund and world ranking points to match, players on the fringe of automatic selection for Gleneagles can give themselves a huge boost with a high finish in Ohio.

The likes of Stephen Gallacher, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Miguel Angel Jiménez will all be looking to finish as high as possible.

Of course the same goes for players already assured of a place in Paul McGinley's team.

Sergio Garcia - the man who chased McIlroy home at Royal Liverpool and eventually finished second by two strokes - is also chasing a first WGC title.

His record at Firestone is distinctly ordinary, however, with just one top-10 finish in 14 appearances. That was a tie for seventh on his debut back in 1999.

World No 3 Henrik Stenson will also be looking to go one better - the Swede was tied second behind Tiger Woods 12 monts ago.

The American has a remarkable record at Firestone. He has won eight times from 14 appearances, and has twice won three years in a row - 1999-2001, and 2005-7.

But Woods is coming off a 69th-place finish and his highest career total score in the Open and badly needs a win this week to secure his own Ryder Cup place.

Watch the Bridgestone Invitational from July 31 to August 3 on Sky Sports 4.