World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational Review
Dates: July 31 - August 3, 2008
Course: Firestone CC - South
Location: Akron, Ohio
by Matt of Predictem.com
It had been a while in the works, but Vijay Singh made his return to the winner’s circle Sunday, capturing the title at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Singh held off a field of the world’s strongest players, earning a one-stroke victory, his first since March of last year at the Palmer. The win did not come easy, as Singh needed to hole a four-footer on the last to stay out of a playoff after missing several short putts throughout the week. Vijay slid the par-saver in to preserve the win, carding a Sunday 68 and finishing the week at 10-under par.
Singh battled all day with Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson, each taking turns in the lead and giving it away as well. Vijay made his move early, but relinquished a front-nine lead to Mickelson shortly after the turn with a bogey on the 11th. Singh came right back with a birdie on 12 and his run of pars to finish was good enough to win as Mickelson struggled down the stretch. Singh collected $1.35 million for the victory and has to be considered a threat in this week’s PGA Championship.
Lee Westwood and Stuart Appleby were waiting if Singh missed the putt, the duo finished tied for second at 9-under. Both players made a run at the leader late, with Appleby notching birdies on 16 and 17 and Westwood making up nearly all of a five shot deficit on the back nine. Both players had birdie putts on 18 that would have moved them to 10-under, but neither could hole out and had to settle for the runner-up spot.
Phil Mickelson was in prime position to win his third event on the year, but collapsed on the inward nine. Phil was one shot clear of the field as he stood on the 15th tee, but carded a bogey after a failing to get up and down from the sand. Lefty went on to two more bogeys coming in, finishing at even-par 70 for the day and a T4 finish at 8-under overall. Retief Goosen joined Mickelson at 8-under after a final round 67 to round out the top five finishers.
The biggest mover on Sunday was Paul Casey, who fired a tournament low 65 and moved into a tie for 8th. Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke and Hidemasa Hoshino also managed 65’s during the week to tie for low round. Other notable finishers include Padraig Harrington at 1-under and T20 and Ernie Els and Jim Furyk another stroke back at even overall and T27. The entire field earned a check this week as the Bridgestone is a no cut event.
While Singh may have left some shots on the course with some spotty putting, he was the only player to break 70 in all four rounds. Vijay solved the South at Firestone, shooting 67 and 66 to position himself for the weekend and brought it in with a 69/68 finish to earn the W. Singh took advantage early every day, with birdies in each round on the par-5 second hole and three birdies on the par-4 third. Singh was near the top in ball-striking for the week, finishing in the top-15 in greens and fairways hit, as well as averaging 315 yards off the tee. Vijay now has six top-10 finishes on the year with two seconds and a third to go along with this win. Singh now looks to make it back to back wins at this week’s PGA Championship, a feat pulled off by Tiger last year.
The win moves Vijay to fourth on the Money list at nearly $4 million earned. Tiger’s $5.7 million in six events is still tops with Kenney Perry and Phil Mickelson behind in the $4 million club. Stewart Cink rounds out the top-5 on the list and Lee Westwood made the jump from 79th to 34th with the runner-up finish.
The FedEx Playoffs are nearing, with players jockeying for position as points reset prior to the final four events. Tiger still leads this list as well, but there is no chance to hold off the contenders once the playoffs start. Kenny Perry stands as the leader on the list, with Mickelson and Cink in the three and four slots. Vijay Singh moves from 10th to 6th with the win.
The year’s final Major is next on the schedule with the PGA Championship taking place this week from Oakland Hills in Michigan.