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BlogBridgestone Preview and Picks

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

June 30th – July 3rd, 2016

Firestone C.C. (South)

Akron, OH

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,400

Purse: $9.5 Million

with $1,612,432 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Shane Lowry

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field of 61 players includes 49 of the top 100 players and 39 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings.  Those in the field include #1 Jason Day, #2 Jordan Spieth, #3 Dustin Johnson, #7 Rickie Fowler, #8 Adam Scott, #10 Justin Rose, #12 Branden Grace, #13 Patrick Reed, #14 Louis Oosthuizen, #15 Brooks Koepka, #16 Hideki Matsuyama, #17 Matt Kuchar, #18 Jim Furyk, #19 Zach Johnson, #20 Phil Mickelson, #21 J.B. Holmes, #22 Brandt Snedeker, #24 Charl Schwartzel, #25 Shane Lowry, #26 Russell Knox, #27 Paul Casey, #28 Byeong Hun An, #29 Kevin Kisner, #30 Kevin Na, #32 Daniel Berger, #33 Bill Haas, #34 Justin Thomas, #36 Charley Hoffman, #38 Kevin Chappell, #39 Marc Leishman, #40 K.T. Kim, #41 Emiliano Grillo, #43 Scott Piercy, #44 Jimmy Walker, #45 Danny Lee, #46 William McGirt, #47 Soren Kjeldsen, #48 David Lingmerth and #49 Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Last year with a full field including European players 48 of the top-50 were in the field

The field includes 23 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2016, #12 Sergio Garcia and #22 Graeme McDowell won’t be playing.

The field includes 22 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list, with #11 Sergio Garcia, #20 Graeme McDowell and #21 Rory McIlroy won’t be playing.

The field includes 24 players that have won 28 of the 33 events on the PGA Tour this year: Emiliano Grillo (Frys.Com); Smylie Kaufman (Shriners Hospitals); Justin Thomas (CIMB Classic); Russell Knox (WGC-HSBC Champions); Kevin Kisner (McGladrey Classic); Jordan Spieth (Hyundai T of C, Dean & DeLuca); Fabian Gomez (Sony Open from Hawaii); Jason Dufner (Humana Challenge); Brandt Snedeker (Farmers Insurance); Hideki Matsuyama (WM Phoenix); Vaughn Taylor (AT&T Pebble Beach); Bubba Watson (Northern Trust); Adam Scott (Honda & WGC-Cadillac); Charl Schwartzel (Valspar Championship); Jason Day (Palmer, WGC-Dell Match Play & Players); Jim Herman (Shell Houston); Branden Grace (RBC Heritage); Charley Hoffman (Valero Texas); Brian Stuard (Zurich); James Hahn (Wells Fargo); William McGirt (Memorial); Daniel Berger (FedEx St. Jude); Dustin Johnson (U.S. Open) and Billy Hurley III (Quicken Loans.

Those winners not in the field are Peter Malnati (Sanderson Farms); Graeme McDowell (OHL Classic at Mayakoba);  Tony Finau (Puerto Rico); Danny Willett (Masters); Sergio Garcia (Byron Nelson); .

The field includes 4 past champions: Shane Lowry (2015), Keegan Bradley (2012), Adam Scott (2011), and Phil Mickelson (1996)

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the WGC-Bridgestone field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the WGC-Bridgestone  field in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the WGC-Bridgestone field.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

**NOTE**

One thing to look for is our new GOLFstats IQ.  For those that play in fantasy golf it’s a perfect way to help you pick those players in Draft Kings and Victiv games.  You can customize the list of those in the tournaments, to look back a couple or many years of tournament stats and you can go back a couple or ten weeks prior to the tournament.  On top of that, all the stats are fully sortable to help you pick your six players, we even give you their value for the week to help you chose.

That’s GOLFstats IQ, give it a try and tell us what you think of it

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So if you own a Iphone or a Ipad we have developed a perfect app called GOLF IQ.

 

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

Player Quicken Loans BMW Intern. U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Lyoness Open Memorial Nordea Masters Dean & DeLuca BMW PGA AT&T Byron Irish Open The Players Wells Fargo
Dustin Johnson
(430.33 pts)
DNP DNP Win
(264)
5
(70)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP T28
(11)
DNP
Brooks Koepka
(248.17 pts)
DNP DNP T13
(74)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP T35
(7.5)
DNP
Jim Furyk
(226.5 pts)
T21
(29)
DNP T2
(200)
DNP DNP T52
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T35
(7.5)
CUT
(-3.33)
Shane Lowry
(221.67 pts)
DNP DNP T2
(200)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T23
(18)
T16
(17)
CUT
(-3.33)
Scott Piercy
(206.83 pts)
DNP DNP T2
(200)
DNP DNP T69
(0)
DNP T67
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T23
(13.5)
DNP
Matt Kuchar
(206.33 pts)
DNP DNP T46
(8)
DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP T3
(45)
DNP
Daniel Berger
(191.5 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(26)
Win
(132)
DNP 67
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T9
(22.5)
T17
(11)
Jason Day
(181.33 pts)
DNP DNP T8
(100)
DNP DNP T27
(15.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(66)
DNP
Jason Dufner
(169.17 pts)
DNP DNP T8
(100)
DNP DNP T33
(11.33)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP T24
(17.33)
DNP T49
(0.5)
DNP
Branden Grace
(140 pts)
DNP DNP T5
(140)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
DNP
Jordan Spieth
(130.33 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(26)
DNP DNP T57
(0)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP
Russell Knox
(126.17 pts)
DNP DNP T23
(54)
DNP DNP 64
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T2
(66.67)
T19
(15.5)
DNP
Harris English
(123.33 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(26)
T26
(24)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP T49
(0.67)
DNP CUT
(-5)
T17
(11)
Zach Johnson
(122 pts)
DNP DNP T8
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T17
(22)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP
Phil Mickelson
(121.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
T2
(100)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
T4
(26.67)
Marc Leishman
(119 pts)
T39
(11)
DNP T18
(64)
DNP DNP T11
(26)
DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T64
(0)
DNP
David Lingmerth
(118.67 pts)
DNP DNP 12
(76)
DNP DNP T27
(15.33)
DNP DNP T22
(28)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-5)
T17
(11)
Billy Hurley III
(118 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-20)
T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T41
(6)
DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Na
(110.33 pts)
DNP DNP 7
(110)
DNP DNP T74
(0)
DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP
Justin Thomas
(109 pts)
T12
(38)
DNP T32
(36)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(45)
CUT
(-3.33)
Charl Schwartzel
(96.67 pts)
DNP DNP T23
(54)
DNP DNP T11
(26)
DNP T25
(16.67)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Byeong-Hun An
(94.67 pts)
T44
(6)
DNP T23
(54)
DNP DNP T11
(26)
DNP DNP T33
(17)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
Adam Scott
(94 pts)
DNP DNP T18
(64)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(19)
T17
(11)
Bill Haas
(85.5 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T47
(2)
DNP DNP DNP T43
(3.5)
CUT
(-3.33)
William McGirt
(84.5 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP T47
(2)
DNP DNP DNP T43
(3.5)
T17
(11)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

Player Quicken Loans BMW Intern. U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Lyoness Open Memorial Nordea Masters Dean & DeLuca BMW PGA AT&T Byron Irish Open The Players Wells Fargo
George Coetzee
(-26.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP 73
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Davis Love III
(-21.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
K.T. Kim
(-20 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Steven Bowditch
(-16.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
T70
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP T82
(0)
DNP CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
Nathan Holman
(-10.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T37
(13)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Paul Casey
(-10.17 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T23
(13.5)
T41
(3)
Jim Herman
(-10 pts)
T39
(11)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
Brandt Snedeker
(-9.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T17
(22)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP
Vaughn Taylor
(-7.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T41
(9)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
T35
(5)
Brian Stuard
(-5.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP 73
(0)
DNP T69
(0)
DNP T31
(12.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

So this is were things start getting a bit crazy. Because of the Olympics the schedule in a already crowded period got even tougher as the WGC-Bridgestone had to be moved up five weeks and wedged in between the U.S. and British Open’s.  If that wasn’t bad enough, after the schedule was a few months old, new management was brought in at the European Tour and the new Euro Chief Executive Keith Pelley found himself in the middle of a firestorm.  With the change of date for this World Golf Championship, it fell on the same week as the French Open, which is having it’s 100th birthday.  Now the good folks in France has pumped a lot of money toward the European Tour, they will host the Ryder Cup in two years and Pelley understood their problem.

So what did he do?  Take away direct contact with the event, very strange that a World Golf Championship will not be a regular event this year on the European Tour so the start and money won’t count.  Making sure that his European Tour players attend the French Open, he has dangled an important perk and that is the French Open counts as two starts, something that is gold for a Rory McIlroy or a Sergio Garcia.

So you will have a World Golf Championship that won’t have a dozen of the best players in the world, this week’s Bridgestone will have the same kind of field that the Accenture Match Play had when it was played in Australia in 2000.

Still this event is a big deal and they do have 39 of the top-50 of the world rankings.  You have the new U.S. Open champion along with Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler.  Now the funny thing, Firestone is a great course as we pointed out in our Firestone course keys but for Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth the course doesn’t favor any of them and they will probably not contend.  Frankly we can’t really say that, hey I said the same thing about Jason, who had a terrible record in Florida and guess what, he won at Doral and the Players.

While we talk about Firestone, the winner will be one of the top-20 players on top the Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green stat.

The course is that good and needs a talented person from tee to green

It’s hard to believe that guys who were a key in this event a decade ago, guys like Tiger and Vijay and Stewart Cink aren’t in this event this year.  For guys like Ernie Els and Luke Donald, they are taking the week off while many will wonder who will be hot for the British Open and then the PGA Championship.

Tournament information:

  • The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is the fourth of the World Golf Championships for 2016, and it will return to Firestone Country Club for the 17th time in the tournament’s 18-year existents.  The first couple of years of this event it was a limited field affair open to members of previous Ryder Cup and President’s Cup team members, but it changed to reflect the way the WGC-CA Championship picks its players.
  • The qualification has changed over the years. For a player to qualify, he must meet at least one of the required stipulations:
  • have been a playing member in the 2014 Ryder Cup team; be ranked in the Top 50 in the official World Golf Rankings one or two weeks prior to the event; or win a worldwide event with an Official World Golf Ranking field strength of 115 points or more in the last calendar year.
  • Lastly the winner of the following tournaments from each of the following Tours:
  • Japan Golf Tour Championship (2015) and Bridgestone Open (2015) from the Japan Golf Tour;
  • Australian PGA Championship (Fall of 2016) from the Australasian Tour; Dimension Data Pro-Am (2016) from the Southern Africa Tour; and Thailand Golf Championship (2015) from the Asian Tour.

Firestone South has been the site of the events and before the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational began, the course was the site of the World Series of Golf.  From 1962 through 1975 it was a four-man showdown of the four major winners.  The format changed in 1976 when it became a special invitational which invited around 50 professionals.  In the history of that event only two players had won it twice, Greg Norman in 1995 & ’97 and Jose Maria Olazabal in 1990 & 1994.  Olazabal wins were unique, the first one in 1990 set a lot of records that nobody had been able to touch.  The win in 1994 was a bit different because it was held on the North course, the only time in the World Series that the tournament was played over there.  What happened a month before the tournament, all of the greens on the South course mysteriously died.  At most tournaments this would cause a big stir but not at Firestone, they just switched things across the street on the North Course, which was the venue for the American golf classics in the 70s.  To add a nice touch Olazabal added another World Series crown and thus can say that he is the only player to win on both of Firestone’s two golf courses.

In 1998, the World Series of Golf stopped, and the World Golf Championship started play at Firestone and had held the event every year except for 2002 when it was held at Sahalee Country Club just outside of Seattle, Washington.

Course information:

Firestone Country Club (South Course)

  • Akron, Ohio
  • 7,400 yards     Par 35-35–70
  • Firestone C.C. has been a major part of golf for over 60 years.  Since 1960, the South Course had held a PGA Tour event with the except of two years, in 1994 when the greens died, and the tournament was moved across the street and in 2002 when the event was played in Seattle, Washington.  The South Course has gone through several changes in its 85-year history.  It was originally designed by Bert Way and opened in 1929.  30 years later in 1959 the course was completely remodeled by Robert Trent Jones, who made the course what it is today.  In 1986 Jack Nicklaus did some touch-up work.
  • The course has held more professional tournaments than any other course in America except for probably Augusta, Colonial and Pebble.  In 1954, it was the site of the Rubber City Open which was held for five years.  In 1960, the course was the venue of the PGA Championship and two years later held the World Series of Golf.  Since 1960, the South Course had held a PGA Tour event with the except of two years, in 1994 when the greens died, and the tournament was moved across the street and in 2002 when the event was played in Washington. It also has held three majors the 1960, ’66 & ’75 PGA Championship.  The club also held eight CBS Golf Classics and 14 American Golf Classics.  In the late 50s and early 60s it was also the site of the CBS Golf Classic, which was one of the first made for TV golf series.  So there is no two ways about it, Firestone is at the forefront of professional golf.
  • The South course features Pencross Bent Grass and Poa Annua on the tee boxes, fairways, and greens. The 3/8″ cut in the fairway provides good roll off the tee, while the skimpy 0.10″ cut on the greens makes for extremely quick putting surfaces. The 4″ cut of Kentucky Blue Grass and Perennial Rye Grass in the rough is plenty long enough to penalize golfers for errant tee shots.
  • Above all, the South Course at Firestone is noted for its length at 7,400 yards, the Par 70. It features a 76.1 course rating and 132 slope rating. Though the slope of the course isn’t too dramatic, the course still puts up a test simply because of its length. The Par 5 16th is a microcosm for the course. At 667-yards, it is one of the longest Par 5’s on Tour. A green-side pond captures errant second shots by golfers trying to reach in two as well as third shots from golfers who hit a poor tee shot. Six years ago it played a big part in Tiger Woods victory when he was tied with Padraig Harrington until the Irishman took 8 on the 16th hole.
  • Other difficult holes include the 471-yard par 4, 4th hole which requires a long, straight tee shot followed by a high, soft approach shot to hold the elevated green.  Last year it was the 2nd toughest hole on the course and 103rd toughest on the PGA Tour playing to an average of 4.218.  The  hardest hole on the course and the 68th toughest on the PGA Tour in 2015 was the ninth, the 494 yard par 4 that played to an average of 4.256. The 667-yard Par 5, 16th was given the nickname of “The Monster,” which was made famous by Jack Nicklaus’s miraculous par at the 1975 PGA Championship en route to a come from behind victory.  The hole is always tough, in 2015 it was the second hardest par 5 on the PGA Tour playing to a 5.071 average.  It also has one of the best finishing holes in golf, the 464-yard Par 4 18th that is very narrow and is protected by bunkers to the front of the green.  Last year it was the fourth-toughest hole of the week and 215th on the PGA Tour playing to a 4.133 average.
  • Last year the course played to a 70.966 average, making it the 8th hardest course on the PGA Tour.

Let’s take a look at key stats that are important for those playing at the Quicken Loans National:

This is based on the most vital stats for the Firestone South, based on data from the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Championship and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2016.
Firestone is a relic to courses built in the 30s; long, straight, boring and tough. Firestone has been an important course on the PGA Tour, it’s had events just about every year from 1960 including the 1960, ’66 & ‘75 PGA Championship. Since 1999 it’s been the home to 16 of 17 WGC-Bridgestone and for 15 of those 16 years the course has played over par. Last year it played to a 70.97 average, almost a shot over par and was the 7th hardest course on the PGA Tour.

The course plays almost as tough as Oakmont did two weeks ago and Congressional last week. Making the course hard is from tee to green, Firestone fairways are tree lined with heavy rough and bunkered along with greens that hard to hit. Last year it was the hardest course on the PGA Tour to get it in the fairway and had the third hardest greens to hit. Since 2005 every champion (except for Keegan Bradley in 2012 has finished in the top-four for the week in strokes gained Tee-to-Green so you can bet the farm that the winner will be in the top-10 of that stat for the year.
Winners rank in strokes gained Tee-to-Green for the week:

  • 2015 – Shane Lowry was 4th
    2014 – Rory McIlroy was 1st
    2013 – Tiger Woods was 1st
    2012 – Keegan Bradley was 21st
    2011 – Adam Scott was 3rd
    2010 – Hunter Mahan was 4th
    2009 – Tiger Woods was 2nd
    2008 – Vijay Singh was 1st
    2007 – Tiger Woods was 1st
    2006 – Tiger Woods was 3rd
    2005 – Tiger Woods was 3rd
    2004 – Stewart Cink was 15th

It’s been wet in the Akron area this summer, just last week over two inches of rain fell. After great weather in Washington for the Quicken Loans, it’s going to be cloudy with possible rain on Thursday and Friday.  Rain will make the course play even longer so look for those that fly the ball like Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson to have an advantage if the fairways are wet.

Every phase of the game will be examined at Firestone. First you have to hit it straight off the tee because the fairways are tree lined with strategy placed bunkers that are tough to get out of, along with rough that is 2 to 4 inches. Last year Firestone had the hardest fairways to hit on tour in 2015 so driving it will be important. Once you hit the fairway, hitting it into the greens is not easy, last year Firestone ranked 3rd hardest in greens in regulation. So you can see, if you hit it long and straight like Johnson and Bubba Watson you are 1 up.

Our third category is putting inside 10 feet, the reason why is because Firestone could have the easiest set of greens. They are a touch slow and flat, with very little undulation players make lot’s of putts, last year the field made 89.38% of their putts from ten feet in so if your having putting problems, you shouldn’t even show up. Lot’s of course like Oakmont and Augusta that you have to putt well to win, but poor putters can have their week at Firestone..

Last is par-4 avearge, Firestone has 12 par 4 with 11 of them over 400 yards. The shortest is the first at 399, but there are seven par 4s over 450 yards so you have to play the par 4s good. The last six winners has played them in a total of 50 under par, that’s an average of 8.33 under par for

So you can see Firestone will set up a very interesting challenge for the players. In looking at past champions of the WGC-Bridgestone they are a remarkable bunch of great players.:

*Fairway Accuracy: percentage of times a drive is in the fairway

*Greens in Regulation: Stat is great barometer on how good players manage their games around Congressional. Every year the players that hit lot’s of greens do well.

*Putting inside 10 feet: For all holes where putting distance was determined with a laser, the percent of putts made when the ball is less than or equal to 10 feet from the hole.

*Par 4s: The average score on all par 4’s played

Players from this year’s field with stats from 2016:

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

 

For the rest of the players, hit this link:

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational:

Firestone is one of the most respected courses on the PGA Tour.  The par-70 layout plays to over 7,400 yards and if there is a key to the course its the long par 3s and par 4s.  Three of the par 3s play over 200 yards while eleven of the twelve par 4s play over 400 yards and  eight play over 440 yards.  You have to be accurate with your drives, as the fairways are very well bunkered and bordered with high rough.  Shots into the greeens, usually with long irons, have to be precise and if the players do get a break its in the greens, they are pretty flat with very little undulations.  The list of champions is pretty impressive but underdogs have won the event.  Its also interesting to note that since 1995 all of the winners (except for Darren Clarke in 2003, Vijay Singh 2008 and Shane Lowry last year) have won a tournament five months prior to their Firestone victory.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • Don’t get tricked up by automatically picking a player high on the Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green.  Yes Dustin Johnson is 3rd but he has always struggled at Firestone.  The same for Jason Day, who is 24th on the list but has only one top-10, a T-4th in 2011.  This is a course for certain players so look for those that have done well on it.  Don’t fear guys like Jim Furyk, Justin Rose or Rickie Fowler. Yes there record haven’t been good of late (Furyk was runner-up at the U.S. Open) but they play well at Firestone, better than Dustin, Jordan and Jason.
  • Since the course will play at more than 7,400 yards, the “experts” will say bombers hold an advantage. Still as you will see length is not the only strength you need to play well at Firestone.  Average hitters like Jim Furyk, David Toms and Stewart Cink have done well at Firestone, so does long hitters have an advantage, yes because Tiger seems to win a lot but don’t discount the shorter hitter.
  • Accuracy will rule this week. The fairways are very narrow and the rough has always played a factor.    Of the 20 players that have finished in the top-five in the tournaments first three years (1999-2001), 15 of them have finished in the top-20 of the driving accuracy category.  Things changed drastically in 2007 as only five players out of the top 21 finished in the top-ten of the driving distance category.  In 2008 of the players in the top-19, only four were in the top-ten. The same in 2009 as of those in the top-15 the best rank in driving accuracy is T10th.  In 2010 only two players out of the top 22 finished in the top-ten of fairways hit.  Things got better in 2011 as six of the top-six were in the top-15 while in 2012 ten of the top-15 were in the top-20.  In 2013 nine of the top-12 were in the top-11 while in 2014 only three players were in the top-20 out of the top-11 while last year only two of the top-nine ruled.   So if fairways get dry this week, look for accuracy to again be the King and secret to playing well this week at Firestone.
  • The only problem is that the course will not be dry.  Rain have dropped in the last month and rain is in the forecast for Thursday and Friday.  After that the rain goes away for the weekend, but the course will again be soft, helping those that don’t drive it straight.
  • Now in the years that Woods has won, hitting greens was the key to victory, but in the two years that Darren Clarke and Stewart Cink won, putting was the key.  In 2009 greens hit was the key to victory for Tiger as he ranked T2nd in that stat, while in 2010 Hunter Mahan was T8th in greens hit and T4th in number of putts.  In 2011 Adam Scott was T9th in greens hit and T4th in putting while in 2012 Keegan Bradley was T11th in greens hit and T2nd in putting.  In 2013 Tiger Woods was 2nd in greens hit and T-5th in putting while in 2014 McIlroy was T-1st in greens hit and T-42nd in putting  So which one is the favorite?  I have to say that the ball striker will always win.
  •  Does a non-marquee guy have a chance this week?  Could Michio Matsumura, Anirban Lahiri or even the Quicken Loan champion Billy Hurley III win?  Not a chance, look for either one of the usual suspects or someone like a Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama or Jim Furyk who really wants to do well in a big event.  As for an underdog, no chance as underdogs have not fared well at Firestone.

 

Who to watch for at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

Best Bets:

Justin Rose

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
3 T4 T17 T5 T33 T19 T29 T27 T2

Can’t miss the fact that he has three top-5 finishes in his last four Firestone starts. He is also 2nd in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green so don’t worry about what he has done leading to this week. There is a reason why Justin is playing in Akron instead of Paris, even with the back problems and the fact that he missed the cut at the U.S. Open at 8 over par.

Brooks Koepka

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
6

Has played good of late, was 6th last year at Firestone plus he is 23rd in SG tee-to-green.

Rickie Fowler

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
10 T8 T21 T60 T2 T33

Yes he has missed a lot of cuts in big events, but he has a magical touch at Firestone with three top-10 finishes.

Jim Furyk

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
3 T15 T9 T2 T23 T6 T51 T27 3 T24 T22

Watch him, he is shining and has a great record at Firestone. This may sound weird but he could be ready to win again.

Best of the rest:

Shane Lowry

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
Win T48 77

Can’t forget about the defender, did great for 67 holes at Oakmont and will be ready to go again this week.

Bubba Watson

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
2 T37 T27 T19 T21 T22

Played well last year, showed some promise at Oakmont, he may be a factor this week.

Jason Dufner

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T66 T4 7

Watch him, has good record at Firestone and has played well since missing the cut at the Masters.

Zach Johnson

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
33 T23 T4 T40 T6 T33 T15 T16 T11 T36 T9 T22

Could be a good pick this week, played good at Oakmont and has had some good finishes at Firestone.

Kevin Chappell

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
First time playing in this event

A good pick, 11th in SG tee-to-green and should do well in his first WGC-Bridgestone.

Bet with your head, not your heart:

Jason Day

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
12 WD T53 T29 T4 T22

Best player in golf has had a tough record at Firestone. Yes he finished T-4th in 2011, but hasn’t done well since. Could be a good week to forget about him.

Dustin Johnson

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
53 T33 T19 T48 15 T22

U.S. Open winners struggle in the weeks after there win and Johnson hasn’t been better than 15th in six Firestone starts. Forget about him and bet the farm on his at Troon.

Jordan Spieth

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
10 49

His great putter gives him no advantage here, can he give you a top-ten, probably, but don’t see him winning.

Adam Scott

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
45 T8 T14 T45 Win T9 T51 T56 T36 T10 T36 T55

Yes he leads the SG tee-to-green stat but since winning at Firestone in 2011 has only been in the top-10 once, T-8th in 2014.

Branden Grace

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
17 T23 T65 T36

Has never done well in this event in four starts.

Long shots that could come through:

Danny Lee

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
6 T51

Been a forgotten man in 2016, did finish 6th last year and played solidly since the Masters.

David Lingmerth

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
6

Time for him to shine again, was 6th last year.

K.T. Kim

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T24 T6

Many have not heard of him but he is the best player on the Japan Tour right now and has done well at Firestone in the two years he has played there.

Comments

  1. Chris C says:

    Rose? Health issues not scaring you away?

  2. It is a minor concern, specially since he missed the cut at the U.S. Open at 8 over. He told Dave Shedloski on Tuesday before the tournament that the back was fine and getting better. Asked to rate his level of health, he grinned and said, “I’m 100 percent.” He paused and then added, grinning again, “You can read between the lines.”
    Yes the back is of some concern, but I am reading between the lines that if it wasn’t better he wouldn’t be playing at Firestone. With the British Open two weeks away, you would think he would be over there playing, specially when you see that Rose is 9th of 9 players on the Ryder Cup list and playing in the French Open would help him more than playing at Firestone. Another thing, Rose isn’t playing in the Scottish Open, so he gives himself very little time for points, so he must like his odds at playing Firestone.

    See how this makes sense???

  3. James Gittleman says:

    Above you mentioned that Bubba Smith is playing. If one of the unspoken requirements for being a contender is that you were a truly outstanding college and NFL DE, then I’m all in. However, making his tee time may, unfortunately, be a problem.

  4. Sorry, typo I meant (have changed) to Watson.

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