This week really starts the stretch run of the 2016-17 PGA Tour season. There’s the big-money, limited- field WGC-Bridgestone Invitational this week in Ohio, the PGA Championship next and then one last event for those on the bubble to qualify for the four-event FedEx Cup playoffs, which wrap up this season at the Tour Championship. Here’s a look at the latest WGC-Bridgestone betting picks & preview.
2017 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Expert Picks & PredictionsWhere: Firestone Country Club (South Course), Akron, Ohio TV: Thursday-Friday, 1:30-6:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, noon-1:30 p.m. (GC); 2-6 p.m.(CBS). PGA Tour Live: Thursday-Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (featured groups), 2-6:30 p.m. (featured holes). Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (featured holes). Radio: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM andPGATOUR.com). Live Stream: PGA Tour Live
WGC-Bridgestone BackgroundIf you are one of those golf fans or bettors who misses Tiger Woods, this tournament will pain you. He has won it a record eight times – three straight from 1999-2001 (first three years of tournament), three more times in a row from 2005-07 and also in 2009 & 2013. No other player has won the tournament twice. Woods, who of course is out this year with back troubles, also holds the tournament scoring record of 259 and is tied for the course record of 61. Firestone’s South Course is a par 70 measuring 7,400 yards – the longest par 70 on Tour outside of major championships. This tournament has been held at Firestone every year except the 2002 edition. It was played at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington.
How Many Pars are in the Course?There are two par 5s at Firestone, Nos. 2 and 16. The latter is the longest hole on the PGA Tour at 667 yards. With a pond fronting the green, it’s no wonder that the last eagle on the hole was recorded by Soren Hansen in the second round in 2008, and he needed to hole out from 102 yards to achieve it. You have to had won a tournament in the past year or be in the world’s Top 50 or a few other things to qualify to play this event. There are 76 players expected in the field. The only two who qualified and aren’t here are Martin Kaymer (shoulder) and Brandt Snedeker (rib). It features 33 of the top 35 in the FedExCup standings.
WGC-Bridgestone FavoritesRed-hot Jordan Spieth is the +650 favorite as he looks to win three tournaments in a row, which is a huge rarity on the Tour. He won the British Open last time out in a back-nine duel Sunday with Matt Kuchar and before that chipped out from a bunker in a playoff to win the Travelers Championship. Spieth was 10 th and third his two past trips here. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is +750 as he looks to join Woods as the only repeat winners here. Last year, he closed with a 4-under 66 to overtake 54-hole co-leader Jason Day and win the tournament. He finished at 6 under, one ahead of Scott Piercy. The 6 under total was the highest in this event since Tiger a decade ago. Johnson won three straight tournaments earlier this year but says he’s still not 100 percent healthy since a fall before the Masters.
How Much of a Favorite is McIlroy for this Tournament?Rory McIlroy is +800. He comes into this tournament with a new caddie. McIlroy split with JP Fitzgerald after a nine-year partnership which included winning four majors. The pair started working together shortly after McIlroy turned professional in 2008. McIlroy is playing in this week’s tournament with best buddy Harry Diamond on the bag. He will also be on the world No 4’s shoulder at next week’s PGA Championship. Quail Hollow will be McIlroy’s last chance to win a major in 2017 and so avoid a third successive majorless campaign in a row. McIlroy won here in 2014 and then didn’t play the next two.
Who Else is a Favorite to Win?Brooks Koepka rounds out the leaders at +1300. The U.S. Open champ finished tied for sixth in the British Open. He was T6 here in his debut in 2015 but WD during last year’s return with an injured ankle. Shane Lowry, who triumphed in 2015, and Hunter Mahan (2010) are the only Firestone champions in the past 22 years who don’t also have a major title to their names so expect a big-name winner.
Round 1 Tee Times
- 7:30 a.m. – Kyle Stanley, Bernd Wiesberger (8:30 a.m., 10th tee Friday)
- 7:40 a.m. – Kevin Kisner, Francesco Molinari, Shaun Norris (8:40 a.m., 10th tee Friday)
- 7:50 a.m. – Brian Harman, Emiliano Grillo, Scott Hend (8:50 a.m., 10th tee Friday)
- 8:00 a.m. – Hudson Swafford, Pat Perez, Sam Brazel (9:00 a.m., 10th tee Friday)
- 8:10 a.m. – Bryson DeChambeau, Brendan Grace, Renato Paratore (9:10 a.m., 10th tee Friday)
- 8:20 a.m. – Gary Woodland, Andres Romero, Chris Wood (9:20 a.m., 10th tee Friday)
- 8:30 a.m. – Xander Schauffele, Louis Oosthuizen, Hideto Tanihara (9:30 a.m., 10th tee Friday)
- 8:40 a.m. – Charley Hoffman, J.B. Holmes, Thorbjørn Olesen (7:30 a.m., 10th tee Friday)
- 8:50 a.m. – Si Woo Kim, Ryan Moore, Paul Casey (7:40 a.m., 10th tee Friday)
- 9:00 a.m. – Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Harold Varner III (7:50 a.m., 10th tee Friday)
- 9:10 a.m. – Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Adam Scott (8:00 a.m., 10th tee Friday)
- 9:20 a.m. – Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar (8:10 a.m., 10th tee Friday)
- 9:30 a.m. – Daniel Berger, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Tommy Fleetwood (8:20 a.m., 10th tee Friday)
- 7:30 a.m. – Brendan Steele, Russell Knox, Lee Westwood (8:30 a.m., 1st tee Friday)
- 7:40 a.m. – Wesley Bryan, Ross Fisher, Jeunghun Wang (8:40 a.m., 1st tee Friday)
- 7:50 a.m. – Jimmy Walker, Danny Willett, Bubba Watson (8:50 a.m., 1st tee Friday
- 8:00 a.m. – Jhonattan Vegas, Billy Horschel, Tyrell Hatton (9:00 a.m., 1st tee Friday)
- 8:10 a.m. – Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day (9:10 a.m., 1st tee Friday)
- 8:20 a.m. – Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama (9:20 a.m., 1st tee Friday)
- 8:30 a.m. – Phil Mickelson, Thomas Pieters, Alex Noren (9:30 a.m., 1st tee Friday)
- 8:40 a.m. – Russell Henley, Paul Lawrie (7:30 a.m., 1st tee Friday)
- 8:50 a.m. – Rod Pampling, Patrick Reed, Fabrizio Zanotti (7:40 a.m., 1st tee Friday)
- 9:00 a.m. – Adam Hadwin, Zach Johnson, Matthew Fitzpatrick (7:50 a.m., 1st tee Friday)
- 9:10 a.m. – Charl Schwartzel, Bill Haas, Satoshi Kodaira (8:00 a.m., 1st tee Friday)
- 9:20 a.m. – Kevin Chappell, Marc Leishman, Thongchai Jaidee (8:10 a.m., 1st tee Friday)
- 9:30 a.m. – Jason Dufner, Mackenzie Hughes, Andy Sullivan (8:20 a.m., 1st tee Friday)