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BlogWGC-Bridgestone Preview and Picks

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:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field of 73 players includes 67 of the top-100 players and 51 of the top 51 in the latest Official World Rankings.

Last year 65 of the top 100 players showed up with 49 of the top-50

The field includes 24 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2017, #23 Charles Howell III did not qualify.

The field includes just 5 past champions: Hideki Matsuyama (2017), Dustin Johnson (2016), Rory McIlroy (2014), Tiger Woods (2013, ’09, ’07, ’06, ’05, ’01, ‘2000 & 1999) and Adam Scott (2011)

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 the 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.

 

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

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

Player Canadian Open Porsche European The Open Barbasol John Deere Scottish Open Greenbrier Irish Open Quicken Loans French Open Travelers BMW Intern. U.S. Open
Francesco Molinari
(468.67 pts)
DNP DNP Win
(264)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP T25
(16.67)
Justin Rose
(271.67 pts)
DNP DNP T2
(200)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T10
(26.67)
Xander Schauffele
(252.67 pts)
DNP DNP T2
(200)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T6
(40)
Rory McIlroy
(233.33 pts)
DNP DNP T2
(200)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(14.67)
DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Tommy Fleetwood
(196 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP T12
(76)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T59
(0)
2
(66.67)
Kevin Kisner
(183.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T2
(200)
DNP DNP DNP 55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Dustin Johnson
(172 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 3
(60)
Alex Noren
(170.67 pts)
DNP DNP T17
(66)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP T25
(16.67)
Thorbjorn Olesen
(169.33 pts)
DNP DNP T12
(76)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T2
(66.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
Russell Knox
(169 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T49
(1)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP T2
(66.67)
T38
(8)
DNP T12
(25.33)
Tony Finau
(169 pts)
T37
(13)
DNP T9
(90)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 5
(46.67)
Tiger Woods
(166.67 pts)
DNP DNP T6
(120)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Patrick Reed
(162.67 pts)
DNP T9
(45)
T28
(44)
DNP DNP T23
(27)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 4
(53.33)
Charley Hoffman
(161.33 pts)
T29
(21)
DNP T17
(66)
DNP DNP T19
(31)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP T20
(20)
Rickie Fowler
(149.33 pts)
DNP DNP T28
(44)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP DNP 12
(25.33)
DNP DNP DNP T20
(20)
Zach Johnson
(146 pts)
DNP DNP T17
(66)
DNP T16
(34)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP T12
(25.33)
Paul Casey
(144.33 pts)
DNP T7
(55)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP T16
(22.67)
Kevin Chappell
(123.33 pts)
DNP DNP T6
(120)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T30
(13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 65
(0)
Brooks Koepka
(120.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T39
(22)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP Win
(88)
Brandon Stone
(118.67 pts)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP T69
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
Tyrrell Hatton
(107.67 pts)
DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP DNP T6
(40)
Byeong Hun An
(106 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T41
(6)
DNP DNP DNP 67
(0)
Patrick Cantlay
(102.67 pts)
DNP DNP T12
(76)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP T45
(3.33)
Austin Cook
(100 pts)
DNP DNP T28
(44)
DNP T34
(16)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Luke List
(98.67 pts)
DNP DNP T39
(22)
DNP DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Webb Simpson
(98 pts)
DNP DNP T12
(76)
DNP DNP DNP T47
(2)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T10
(26.67)
Jordan Spieth
(88.67 pts)
DNP DNP T9
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Kevin Na
(88 pts)
DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP T64
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jason Day
(84.67 pts)
DNP DNP T17
(66)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Haotong Li
(84.33 pts)
DNP DNP T39
(22)
DNP DNP T23
(27)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
Alexander Bjork
(79.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T19
(31)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T33
(11.33)
DNP
Bryson DeChambeau
(78.67 pts)
DNP T13
(37)
T51
(0)
DNP WD
(-5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T9
(30)
DNP T25
(16.67)
Bubba Watson
(76 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Ian Poulter
(74 pts)
T12
(38)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T30
(20)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP T25
(16.67)
Jon Rahm
(73.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Canadian Open Porsche European The Open Barbasol John Deere Scottish Open Greenbrier Irish Open Quicken Loans French Open Travelers BMW Intern. U.S. Open
Aaron Wise
(-23.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Kodai Ichihara
(-20 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Ryuko Tokimatsu
(-20 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(-14 pts)
DNP DNP 74
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
Patton Kizzire
(-13.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP T30
(20)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Shubhankar Sharma
(-8 pts)
DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T27
(15.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Hideki Matsuyama
(-7.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
Emiliano Grillo
(-6 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Branden Grace
(-3.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T25
(16.67)
Ted Potter, Jr.
(-2 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T23
(18)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Hard to believe that this will be the last time the PGA Tour will play at Firestone South, at least for the foreseeable future.  For the second week in a row, we see an iconic course playing it’s last PGA Tour events.  Last week it was Glen Abbey, and now this week it’s Firestone South.  We have seen this happen in the past with other iconic courses like LaCosta, which held the Tournament of Champions for 30 years before being replaced by Kapalua.  Also, Doral in Miami held PGA Tour events between 1960 and 2016 before the WGC-Mexico was moved to Mexico.  In those moves money was the big reason to leave and the same with Firestone.  Sponsor Bridgestone didn’t want to spend the money to sponsor a World Golf Championship while down in Memphis, FedEx was willing to pay the money, if the event moved to Memphis.  So with that, this event makes the 618-mile move south, and Firestone will host a Champions Tour event for the next four years.  It’s a shame that such an excellent course will be gone off the PGA Tour and many have wondered if possibly the USGA or PGA of America would hold their majors on the course.  It’s a possibility, one of the problems is the length of time, the first open dates for the PGA Championship is 2025 and 2026, but many think those dates will go to Southern Hills and another classic venue.  After those dates 2027, ’28 and ’29 are taken so it could be a decade for Firestone to get into the PGA Championship rota.  As for the USGA, all dates through 2027 are taken so again it would be at least a decade before a U.S. Open could be played at Firestone.  So the best scenario is for Firestone to wait for a possible opening in either a WGC event or like with the Quicken Loans moving from Washington to Detroit, so sugar daddy comes along with a lot of money to hold an event in Akron.  With the economy being the way it is and companies leaving Akron we can see that it’s going to be a long time before the tour comes back to Firestone.

Dustin Johnson

Got a lot of emails from folks wondering why I was such a schmuck in making Dustin the worst bet pick last week.  Of course, Johnson is the best player in the world, and after missing the cut at Carnoustie, he bounced back to win the Canadian Open.  Frankly, it just shows how easy it is for a player of Johnson’s caliber to go from missing the cut one week and seven days later hoisting a trophy.  I was very surprised to see that in 2018, Johnson was the sixth player to win after missing the cut in his previous event:

  • Ryan Armour won Sanderson Farms after missing the cut at Safeway
  • Rory McIlroy won the Arnold Palmer a week after missing the cut at Valspar
  • Scott Piercy won Zurich Classic a week after missing the cut at Valero Texas Open
  • Bubba Watson won the Travelers a week after missing the cut at the U.S. Open
  • Michael Kin won the John Deere a week after missing the cut at Greenbrier
  • Dustin Johnson won the Canadian Open a week after missing the cut at the British Open

Just goes to show how these guys are like a Ferrari or a Lamborghini or a Bugatti.  These are finely tuned machines that in some cases change drastically with a twist of a screwdriver.  In the case of Johnson, that’s all it was working on his putting, and everything else fell into place.  Still, I shake my head anytime I see a player like Johnson missing a cut, especially in a major but I guess anything is possible.

So does that mean Player of the Year honors for Dustin?

Lot’s of people are calling Johnson, the leader in the player of the year race.  Sorry I have to disagree.  Yes, Johnson has won three times in 2018, but all of them are run of the mill PGA Tour events.  In the case of Bubba Watson, who also won 3 times one of those victories is in the WGC-Match Play, which is more prestige and carries a lot of weight.  But before people think of either Johnson or Watson, I say that Francesco Molinari is player of the year.  People are just saying he won twice, at the Quicken Loans and the British Open, but we tend not to count that he won the BMW PGA Championship, which is the most significant event on the European Tour.  The problem with Molinari is that in his first 11 starts his best finish was T-16th at the Wells Fargo Championship and that the bulk of his excellent play has come after missing the cut at the Players Championship.  Funny how we were talking about Dustin missing the cut at the British Open and then winning the next week, Molinari missed the cut at the Players and in his next start 2 weeks later won the BMW PGA Championship.  But the question we have to ask, is the fact that in Molinari’s last six starts has three wins and two runner-ups are that enough for Player of the Year honors?  Guess we will have to see what happens in the next two weeks.

This event is a big deal, and they do have 51 of the top-51 of the world rankings. While we talk about Firestone, the winner will be one of the top-20 players on top the Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green stat.

Firestone South is that good and needs a talented person from tee to green

Tournament information:

The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is the fourth of the World Golf Championships for 2017, and it will return to Firestone Country Club for the 19th time in the tournament’s 20-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-Mexico 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 2017 U.S. and International Presidents Cup teams.
  • 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 (2018) and Bridgestone Open (2017) from the Japan Golf Tour;
  • Australian PGA Championship (Fall of 2017) from the Australasian Tour; Dimension Data Pro-Am (2018) from the Southern Africa Tour; and the Indonesian Masters winner (2017) 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.  It also was the home of the Rubber City Open between 1954 and 1976 (it was called the American Golf Classic after 1961)  The format of the World Series of Golf changed in 1976 when it became a unique 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 to 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 significant part of golf for over 60 years.  Since 1954, 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 initially designed by Bert Way and opened in 1929.  30 years later in 1959, the course was entirely 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.  It also has held three majors 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 are 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 weak tee shot. Seven 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 64th toughest on the PGA Tour playing to an average of 4.227.  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 2016 it was the second hardest par 5 on the PGA Tour playing to a 5.180 average.  Last year it played the easiest it ever played to a 4.865 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.  In 2016 it was the fourth-toughest hole of the week and 158th on the PGA Tour playing to a 4.163 average.  Last year it was the 300th hardest hole on the PGA Tour with a 4.092 average.
  • Last year the course played to a 70.497 average, making it the 18th hardest course on the PGA Tour.

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing at Firestone South

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.

Here is the link to the other 63 players

DraftKings tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

  • Dustin Johnson – $11,700
  • Rory McIlroy – $11,300
  • Tiger Woods – $10,800
  • Justin Rose – $10,700
  • Jordan Spieth – $10,400
  • Rickie Fowler – $10,000
  • Jason Day – $9,800
  • Jon Rahm – $9,600
  • Francesco Molinari – $9,400
  • Tommy Fleetwood – $9,200
  • Henrik Stenson – $9,000
  • Brooks Koepka – $8,900

I can tell you off the bat that I am not very high on Dustin Johnson at $11,700.  Think it’s extreme, and he has a very inconsistent record at Firestone.  But as we have seen, you never know which Dustin Johnson will show up and frankly I will not pick Johnson for the second week.  I am disappointed in the high prices of both Rory McIlroy at $11,300 and Tiger Woods at $10,800.  I understand the reason, I like both of them, and DraftKings is doing their job with making their prices high.  As for recommending them, I am.  I think that Tiger is looking forward to playing Firestone one last week and breaking the record that he holds with Sam Snead of 8 wins in a tournament.  As for McIlroy, I think he will win before the Ryder Cup, and it could be this week, so both of these players are high on my list. As for Justin Rose at  $10,700, this is a toss-up.  The price is high, Rose has had his problems at Firestone the last two years, but has played great the other years.  I would say yes to Rose because of his great year, and he is doing to win, this is a course he can win on.  Jordan Spieth at $10,400 is another person that is a toss up, yes he has a good record on this course and even if he putts below his norm can still win.  But I don’t like the frame of mind he is in after his British Open collapse, so I am saying no on Spieth.  Rickie Fowler at $10,000 is a buy in my mind; again he should do well this week.  As for Jason Day, at $9,800 the price is right, and I see him playing Firestone as well as he did at the Wells Fargo, which he won.  Jon Rahm at $9,600 is a big fat no, don’t like where he is right now, and I don’t think the course suits him.  Francesco Molinari at $9,400 seems low, and even though he is playing well, we know everything has to come to an end, and I don’t think Firestone suits his game so I will not take him.  Tommy Fleetwood at $9,200 is the same story, don’t think Firestone suits his game.  I also don’t like Henrik Stenson at $9,000 and Brooks Koepka at $8,900.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,800 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Some good buys, yes Justin Thomas at $8,800 seems low, but he did miss the cut at the British and had struggled.  He has fought on this course so I would say pass on him this week.  Alex Noren at $8,700 is also a no; he has struggled, like a lot of Europeans on this course.  But one European that hasn’t fought at Firestone is Paul Casey who is $8,600; I will take him.  As for Bubba Watson at $8,500 he too has struggled on this course other than his runner-up finish, but his game isn’t there now.  Wish I had good news on defending champion Hideki Matsuyama at $8,400 but his game is not there now and you need to pass on him.  Patrick Reed at $8,300 is another that doesn’t excite me so take a pass on him.  Patrick Cantlay at $8,200 is a rookie but I think he can do well, so take him.  Same with Zach Johnson at $8,100 who has played well of late at Firestone and played well the last couple of week.  Tony Finau at $8,000 is also a rookie that I like, he has done well of late and should do well this week.  Matt Kuchar at $7,700 is a good buy, you will see in this limited field event you will need to find three guys around this price range, and Kuchar is one of those along with Xander Schauffele at $7,900.  Also, Marc Leishman in the $7,900 is a toss up but probably a buy.

*Some of the “bargains” this week at the WGC-Bridgestone

This is tough to find some bargains, I do like Adam Scott at $7,500 because of his excellent record in this event, he will give you some points.  Phil Mickelson is also looking like a bargain at $7,400, but I will say pass on him, he hasn’t played well at Firestone in ten years.  Same with Sergio Garcia at $7,400, looks like a high price but his game is terrible now, and he hasn’t played well at Firestone since his runner-up in 2014, and that’s his only top-19 in the last decade in this event.  Now a couple of good buys, Kevin Chappell at $7,300 he was T-6th at the British and T-3rd in 2016 to take him.  Also, like Ian Poulter at $7,300.  After missing the cut at the British, he was T-12th in Canada, and everything is essential for him in his quest to make the Ryder Cup team.  I can see a top-ten or even better for Poulter.  Russell Knox at $7,300 is also a good buy; he was T-5th at Firestone last year.  One last guy in a pinch is Charley Hoffman at $7,500, he was 3rd last year and could play well.

 

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 greens, 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 in 2015) have won a tournament five months before 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 was always toward the top of the list in strokes gained, but he has always struggled at Firestone until he won in 2016.  The same this year for Sergio Garcia, he is 3rd in tee to green but in 15 visits to Firestone has been in the top-ten just twice, best was runner-up in 2014.  So sometimes stats don’t pan out.
  • 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 do 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 completed 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 in 2015 only two of the top-nine ruled.  In 2016 only five of the top-9 were in the top-ten in fairway accuracy, probably because of the rain.  Last year only 2 of those in the top-nine were in the top-ten in fairway accuracy   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.  The forecast shows that thunderstorms will happen on Wednesday, 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 success for Tiger as he ranked T2nd in that stat, while in 2010 Hunter Mahan was T8th in greens hit and T4th in the 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.  In 2016 Dustin Johnson was T-4th in Fairways hit, 2nd in driving distance, T-5th in greens hit and T-10th in putting.  Last year Matsuyama was T-27th in fairways hit, T-1 in greens hit, and T-11th in putting  Can’t get any better than that.  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 Shubhankar Sharma, Brandon Stone, Ryuko Tokimatsu, Paul Dunne or Alexander Bjork win?  Not a chance, look for either one of the usual suspects or someone like a Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson or even a Tiger Woods who wants to do well this week.  As for an underdog, no chance as underdogs has not fared well at Firestone.

 

Who to watch for at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

Best Bets:

Tiger Woods

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
WD Win T8 T37 T78 Win Win Win

Yes let’s just let this gather up the thought that he can win, showed that at the British and is playing a course he loves to play in. He is playing this week due to an act of God, his point totals to get into the top-50 of the World Rankings is so small that you have to think that even Tiger wants to take advantage of this good fortune

Rory McIlroy

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T5 Win T27 T5 T6 T9 T68

He is very close, showed that at the British Open. I think he wins before the Ryder Cup.

Dustin Johnson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T17 Win 53 T33 T19 T48 15 T22

Past champion that is on a roll after winning in Canada. It all boils down to his putting.

Best of the rest:

Justin Rose

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T63 T46 3 T4 T17 T5 T33 T19 T29 T27 T2

Very steady on par 4s and putting inside ten feet. He has been close before and has played well and very consistent this year.

Rickie Fowler

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
9 T10 10 T8 T21 T60 T2 T33

This is a course that he can win on, Rickie is the type of winner that Firestone has had, it’s a perfect match for Firestone’s last event.

Tommy Fleetwood

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T28

Still like him, he is steady and needs to learn to play these kinds of courses.

Zach Johnson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
2 T10 33 T23 T4 T40 T6 T33 T15 T16 T11 T36

Has done well in the past at Firestone, he also has played well of late.

Solid contenders

Francesco Molinari

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T24 61 T31 T44 T40 T15 T39

Afraid that the wins and runner-up won’t be around this week, tough course for him.

Jason Day

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T24 T3 12 WD T53 T29 T4 T22

He won at Wells Fargo, a course a lot like Firestone.

Jordan Spieth

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T13 T3 10 49

May play well early, but afraid he will fade away like he did at the British Open.

Paul Casey

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T5 T16 17 T27 T45 T22 WD T8 T51 T4

Very steady from tee-to-green, these are perfect greens for him to put on, don’t be surprised to see his win.

Xander Schauffele

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T13

Started to get on a roll at the British, think the good play will continue for him this week.

Long shots that could come through:

Patrick Cantaly

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

Playing for the first time, that could be the charm for him.

Tony Finau

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

Is on a run and could do well this week.

Kevin Chappell

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T13 T3

Did well in his last start at the British Open, also did well at Firestone last year.

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