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Handicapping

Bridgestone Invitational Predictions

Event: WGC – Bridgestone Invitational
When: August 3-6, 2017
Where: Firestone CC (South) – Akron, OH
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by: Evergreen of Predictem.com

The summer may be full of lazy days but there are few down moments on the summer PGA Tour calendar and that is true again this week as we move on to the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational. We are just one week away from the final Major of the year and a month away from playoff time so it is do or die in these remaining weeks. All WGC events feature strong fields and this week is no different as 78 of today’s top players head to Akron to take on the famous Firestone South course. Dustin Johnson returns to defend his 2016 title and looks to become just the second golfer to win the Bridgestone more than once. That number is skewed a bit by Tiger Woods and his eight Bridgestone victories. Johnson has won the WGC-Dell and Mexico events and could become the first to win three WGC stops inside the same season. A win would also be his fourth overall of 2017 but he will have to go through all the best including Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler.

The South Course at Firestone CC has a lot of familiarity with golf fans. It has hosted the Bridgestone since 1999 and many gamers have played the course, at least digitally, as the “Monster” has been heavily featured on many video game versions over the years. The signature hole is the 667-yard, par-5 at the 16th. There is a pond directly in front of the green to make the hole play it’s full yardage and many fates have been won and lost here over the years. Overall, the par-70 layout stretches out to nearly 7,400 yards and the scoring pace is usually medium to slightly above average. Twice, the winning total has been as low as 6-under par but more often than not, a score in the mid-teens under par will be necessary to contend. Good drives are necessary to avoid tree trouble around many fairways and while the greens are relatively large and receptive, good irons are required to net the better birdie looks. Putting is always a key to winning but it is a tough predictor here as so many players have extensive experience at the course. It really comes down to who is hot this week.

Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight who we think are the best bets. We make some picks to win and break down a couple of head-to-head matches that you can find at Bovada Sportsbook (50% bonus up to $250 FREE and your credit card will work there!) . Here are our picks to win the 2017 Bridgestone Invitational.

Brooks Koepka (16 to 1 odds to win)

Brooks has shown a little boom and bust in his overall makeup but his boom has been so good this year that he is rightfully in the betting tier right behind the 1st line faves. A U.S. Open win is the standout finish but Koepka has two runner-up finishes, a T6 at Royal Birkdale and is currently riding a streak of ten straight made cuts. He is 10th in driving distance so there should be no problem in attacking the lengthy Firestone and Brooks is among the best on Tour in scoring on the par-5’s. He is 13th in GIR putting average and 30th in one-putt percentage so that flatstick is working well on the backside of those big drives. You can win on Tour simply by bookending top-end driving and putting stats and that is really what Koepka has done over the last couple of months or so. He is 6th on Tour in birdie average and should be a threat from day one.

Sergio Garcia (28 to 1)

Getting that Major monkey off his back was just part of Sergio’s epic 2017. He was recently married, green jacket and all, so you figure that he might be a little distracted and possibly see a temporary fall-off in his play. That hasn’t really been that case however as Garcia has yet to miss a cut in any of his twelve Tour starts. He has eight top-25 finishes but has mostly hung around and not pushed for a win outside Augusta. That really helps his value in this case as 28 to 1 is a potentially tremendous return on a guy that has the goods no matter who is in the field alongside him. He is 2nd on Tour in tee-ball metrics, including 11th in total driving. He is solid with the irons and has become a clutch scrambler in his later years. Sergio is no craftsman with the putter but he has found a way to make the most out of his top-10 GIR rank by making enough putts to be relevant while avoiding the three-putts that often plagued his earlier career. Garcia still has the physical game to win at any event but his head-game has emerged over the last few years and it looks like he will have a nice second act even if he loses his fastball relatively soon. He is pressure-free these days and you have to like players in that scenario.

J.B. Holmes (80 to 1)

If you are on a course dubbed The Monster, you can do worse than betting on a longshot with a massive driver. Holmes is 14th in measured distance off the tee but is even better than that when you factor in all drives. He can attack the course with that length and net a few more birdie looks than the average length player this week. Most of his stat sheet is pedestrian considering this field but J.B. has played some of his best golf over the last month with a T12 at the US Open, a T9 at the Greenbrier and a T14 just last week. I think he is on the upswing as we head toward the end of the season and he could be a factor in multiple weeks through the playoffs. Just three missed cuts on the year shows good consistency and I think that steadiness will be necessary as Firestone isn’t the kind of course that rewards the up-and-down kind of player.

Head-to-Head Matches

Picks to win based on predicted score after all four rounds. Check with 5Dimes Sportsbook for the best array of single round matches and a the best variety of prop bets.

Jason Day v. Henrik Stenson (pick to win: Stenson)

This should be the kind of course and kind of event that Day dominates but I am worried about his current run of spotty play. A poor showing at the US Open was just part of rather below average run for Day and it isn’t great news when folks are pointing to his T27 at Birkdale as a positive sign. Stenson has only made five of ten cuts on the PGA season but was T2 at the HSBC, T16 at the Players and T11 at the Open Championship. His hit-or-miss results are more born of his travel schedule rather than a swing issue like Day’s situation. Stenson is the better tee-to-green player right now and most of the other stat sheet is historically even for these players. Day could pop any week and return to form but I am betting against him until I see it, especially with a talent the caliber of Stenson.

Jon Rahm v. Hideki Matsuyama (pick to win: Matsuyama)

Rahm was ready to take this Tour by storm and put together a player of the year kind of record this season. He notched a win, nearly had two more that wound up in T2 finishes and added another 3rd place run all before summer got going. He hasn’t fallen off the map entirely since but he has struggled to meet that earlier pace and many of his Tour-leading stats from that time have regressed to “above average” rather than that POY level. Matsuyama has two wins on the season, including a WGC event, and three runner-ups to trump Rahm’s season record but most are still overlooking Hideki in most weeks. The kid is just plain talented and it shows with a top-10 GIR% and top-5 ranks in both birdie and scoring average. The amazing thing is that Matsuyama scores with the best despite a putting average that is outside the top-175. He is hot-and-cold on the greens but he is fighting for a win when he is on with the putter. Both of these players have proven to be elite ball strikers and should be considered threats to win this event but Rahm is backsliding just a little and should fall a stroke or two behind Matsuyama this week.

Good luck and good golf.

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