By Michael McGill

This week the PGA Tour heads to Akron,Ohio for the WGC Bridgestone Invitational at the Firestone Country Club.

The South course is a Par 70, 7400 yards monster. It is the longest Par 70 course on the PGA Tour. It was ranked 18th most difficult in 2011 and has 82 sand bunkers and 3 water hazards. The greens are pencross bentgrass, poa annua.

There are several intimidating long Par 4’s on the course however they take a back seat to the Par 5, 16th which is the longest hole on the Tour measuring at 667 yards. Watch out for the water in front of the green.

Before you play the 16th you need to contend with the Par 3, 15th at 221 yards. It is a challenging hole as there are hidden bunkers to the left of the green. Many players will come unstuck.

Players who play well at the US Open tend to do well here due to the narrow fairways and thick rough. Players also have the option of using the driver a lot more often as there are not as many doglegs on the South course that you would normally see each week.

Past winners have all ranked highly in GIR stats so keep this in mind when looking at the field.

This week the bookies Top 5 players in the market are:

  • Tiger Woods 5/1– When it comes to Firestone the first thing that comes to mind is Tiger. He loves this course which is evident by his seven titles! Winning here in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009. Has three wins this season to his name. The only slight worry could be his driver.
  • Luke Donald 16/1– The World No.1 was second here last year. He will be out to go one better. He has already won this season taking out the Transitions Championship in March. Luke is coming off an encouraging 5th in the British Open. Five Top 10’s from eleven starts on the Tour so far this season.
  • Rory McIlroy 18/1– Was 9th in 2010 and 6th last year. So he is heading in the right direction. Won the Honda Classic earlier this season. Started the season with a bang and now his game has gone off the boil. Will he reignite this week?
  • Adam Scott 19/1– Defending Champion. Last 3 starts have been 15th US Open, 3rd AT&T National and 2 Open Championship. On paper that looks awesome. However we need to know how he is in the head. Scott is the kind of guy who can put the Open behind him and bounce back. The added pressure of defending is sure to add to the weight.
  • Lee Westwood 20/1– 9th in 2011, WD 2010, 9th 2009 and 2nd-2008. He likes it here and perhaps this is the week for Lee to pull his finger out as he has not won on the PGA Tour since his victory at the St Jude Classic in 2010.

The field also consists of four past Champions in Adam Scott, Tiger Woods, Hunter Mahan and Darren Clarke. Joining them are 23 winners from this season including the likes of Zach Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Dufner and Steve Stricker.

If that is not enough to prove how good the field is this week, we also have 17 Major Champs teeing it up like Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel, Jim Furyk and David Toms.

So who do we like this week?

I am leaving the favourites alone this week and going with two guys who are travelling a little under the radar.

Bubba Watson 33/1

The World No.7 has 4 PGA Tour wins to his name. In 2011 he managed two victories in taking out the Farmers Insurance Open and Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

He started the 2012 season with eight Top 20 finishes before he teed it up in the Masters and walked away with the Green jacket after a play off with Louis Oosthuizen. After the Masters he defended his Zurich Classic title and finished T18th. He then took time off to enjoy the win and spend time with his new adopted baby.

After his 5 week break he had a Masters hang over and missed his next 2 cuts. However he turned it all around with a T2nd at the Travelers Championship. From there it was a credible T23rd at The Open Championship.

Bubba is now back and ready to let rip. He was T21st here last year and T22nd in 2010.

This season he is yet to miss a cut and has recorded five Top 10’s from 11 starts.

His stats will see him play well at Firestone as he is-

  • 1st – Driving Distance
  • 1st – Greens in Regulation
  • 1st – Par 5 birdie or better
  • 1st – GIR from other than fairway
  • 2nd – Birdie average
  • 6th – Ball striking
  • 7th – All round ranking

We can expect to see Bubba pulling out his driver on most of these holes and doing what we all love to watch him do …. playing ‘Bubba Golf’.

Rickie Fowler 30/1

Rickie has been talked about as being one of the next big things in golf. He was the No.1 ranked amateur golfer in the world in 2007/8 for a remarkable 36 weeks.

He turned pro in 2009 and since then he has been looking for that first win. Then in May this year he broke his duck and won the Wells Fargo Championship in a play off over Rory McIlroy and D.A Points.

From there the confidence grew and he backed it up the next week to finish T2nd in The Players Championship.

This season the World No.20 has had seventeen starts and has only missed two cuts.

Other highlights have been 7th-Honda Classic, 10th-Zurich Classic of Orleans and 5th-Crowne Plaza Invitational.

Last year he was T2nd at Firestone after finishing T33rd the year before. This year he will be primed to go one better and claim his second career victory.

Stats wise he is ranked 11th in Total driving, 15th in All round ranking and 7th in Par 5 birdie or better.

The young fans will be out in force this week wearing their orange Puma hats as they cheer on their young hero.

 

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Readers Comments (1)

  1. Gail

    My picks for this week at Bridgestone is Tiger-1, Westwood-2,and Donald-3. I know Tiger will take it this week. This is his week, I feel it in my heart. As far as Phil, he will fall flat on his face again. He won’t even make the cut, and if he does he will falter on the last two days.

     

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