Firestone Key Fantasy Stats

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

August 2nd – 5th, 2018

Firestone C.C. (South)

Akron, OH

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,400

Purse: $10 million

with $1,800,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Hideki Matsuyama

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:

This is on the most vital stats for the Firestone South, based on data from the 2016 WGC-Bridgestone Championship and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2018.
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 1960, ’66 & ‘75 PGA Championship. Since 1999 it’s been the home to 17 of 18 WGC-Bridgestone and for 16 of those 17 years, the course has played over par. Last year it played to a 70.50 average, almost a half a shot over par and was the 18th hardest course on the PGA Tour. As I said Firestone has been an iconic course on the PGA Tour as it has held a tournament on the South Course every year but two (no 1994 or 2002) going back to the 1954 Rubber City Open. But after this year the WGC-Bridgestone will move to Memphis and become the WGC-FedEx. As for Firestone, they will get a Senior Tour event for the next four years, but that’s not like having a yearly PGA Tour tournament.

So for one last year will Firestone still be one of the toughest courses of the year? It won’t surpass Shinnecock with has a 74.65 average or PGA National which is 2.3 strokes over par. There are 15 courses over par this year and you can bet that Firestone will be among them, it’s that type of course. Making the course hard is from tee to green, Firestone fairways are tree lined with heavy rough and bunkered along with greens that are very hard to hit. Last year it was the 2nd hardest course on the PGA Tour to get it in the fairway and the 12th hardest greens to hit. That is drastically different from 2016 when Firestone was the hardest fairways and greens to hit, but weather dictates that and last year things were perfect. 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:

2017 – Hideki Matsuyama was 1st
2016 – Dustin Johnson was 3rd
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 totally different this year compared to last year when in the month of July Akron had 4 inches of rain. This year is much different as only an inch and a half have dropped in July and there hasn’t been any rain in the last week. wet in the Akron area this summer, in the month of July close to 4 inches of rain has fallen. But that is about to change, there will be rain on Tuesday afternoon rolling into Wednesday.  But after that Friday is the only day of rain and that is 40%, so the course should play firm and hard. The course will also play short, giving short hitters a good chance of keeping up with the long hitters.

One thing that is fact, 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 it was the 2nd hardest to hit, in 2016 and in 2015 Firestone had the hardest fairways to hit on tour, so driving it will be important. Once you hit the fairway, hitting it into the greens is not easy, last year Firestone was the 12th hardest greens to it but in 2016 it was the hardest and 3rd hardest in 2015. So you can see if you hit it long and straight like Johnson you are 1 up. In winning last year Hideki Matsuyama was T-27th in driving accuracy and 1st in greens hit. In 2016 winner Dustin Johnson was 1st in strokes gained off the tee and 3rd in strokes gained tee-to-green. He was 2nd in driving distance, T-4th in accuracy and T-5th in greens in regulation, the reason he won.

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 ranked 23rd on tour and the players made 87.56% of their putts from ten feet in so if you’re having putting problems, you shouldn’t worry about showing up. Lot’s of courses like Shinnecock Hill and Augusta that you have to putt well to win, but poor putters can have their week at Firestone. Just look at all of the poor putters that have won at Firestone, Matsuyama last year, Shane Lowry, Keegan Bradley and Adam Scott.

Last is par-4 average Firestone has 12 par 4s 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 eight winners has played them in a total of 60 under par, that’s an average of 7.50 under par. Last year Hideki Matsuyama played them in 7 under, in 2016 Dustin Johnson played the 4s in 3 under, the worst of a champion since Tiger Woods in 2009 played them in 2 under par.

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

Here are the 59 of the 73 players from this year’s field with stats from 2018:

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

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