2009 WGC Bridgestone Invitational Preview and Picks

The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
Thu. Aug 6 - Sun. Aug 9, 2009
Firestone County Club - Akron, OH
Golf Channel/CBS

by Matt of Predictem.com

The best golfers in the world come together in Ohio for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational from Firestone County Club. The World Golf Championship events invite only the top players from around the world to compete and 80 are in Akron this week to battle for the Bridgestone crown. Tiger Woods has owned this event, winning an amazingsix times since 1999 when Firestone became the host course. Tiger was busy rehabbing last year at this time, so Vijay Singh defends his 2008 title against a superior field that is tuning up for the year’sfinal Major next week, including Phil Mickelson. All of the early round action is on the Golf Channel with CBS broadcasting the weekend.

Firestone Country Club will provide a nicewarm upfor the players heading into next week’s PGA Championship. The course will play par-70 and measure 7,400 yards for the event and challenges the players to use all the shots in their bag to succeed. The clear favorite this week will be Tiger of course ashe has never finished worse than 4th at the Bridgestone and his winning streak that started in 2005 was interrupted only by injury. Still, many players have a chance this week given how Woods was spraying the ball all over the place at Warwick Hills and even though he eventually won, the field is much stronger here and Firestone will punish those wayward drives more severely.

Each week we take a look at the golf sportsbooks and highlight a few players that can contend. We’ll pick a short, middle and long odds golfer to win outright and breakdown a few head to head matches as well. This week’s line and odds information is courtesy of the board at superbook.com. Here are our picks for the 2009 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational:

Short Favorite: Anthony Kim (25 to 1 to win)
Kim is likely playing the best golf of his year right now, coming off two top-3 finishes in his last three starts. Anthony has fine tuned the putting game and currently ranks 1st in putting average and 16th in putts per round. His 4.37 birdies per round ranks 2nd on Tour and his length off the tee will negate some of the length at Firestone. Just how long is Kim? He’s currently 18th in driving distance, but nearly 20% of his drives are going for 320 or more yards. It looks like a good week for the young bomber to cash one in.

Middle of the Road: Steve Stricker (30 to 1)
Stricker is the polar opposite of Kim, using a controlled and accurate overall game to notch two wins in 2009. Steve has finished in the top-10 in half of his 14 made cuts with two runner up finishes and a third to go along with his victories. The strength of Stricker’s game is in his accuracy, ranking 20th in greens hit and 49th in fairways. The barely top-50 rank in fairways hit is better than it looks considering it was outside the top-125 in the earlier part of the season. Steve is also top-10 in both putting average and putts per round with second best marks in scoring average and all around rank.

Longshot: Luke Donald (40 to 1)
Luke is on a nice run lately with four consecutive top-24 finishes including a 5th at the British Open. Donald is 2nd in putting average, 4th in putts per round and owns the 10th lowest scoring average on Tour. Luke is solid overall, ranking inside the top-30 in bounce back and scrambling and ranks 1st in sand saves.Donald has been outside the top-25 only twice in his 13 made cuts this year, making him a good bet to at least be hanging around the first page come Sunday.

Head to Head Matches (our pick) *all matches are for the entire event. Check with your favorite online sportsbook for single round matches, updated daily.

Brian Gay (-115) v. Nick Watney (-115) (Gay)
Gay is the more controlled player in this match, ranking 150 spots better in fairway percentage than Watney. Gay makes less birdies than Watney on average, but his scoring numbers are better, so he is the less mistake-prone player. Watney has the punchers chance with his length advantage, but it’s usually a good idea to take the better putter on a par-70 track and Gay outranks Watney there as well.

Stewart Cink (EVEN) v. Hunter Mahan (-130) (Cink)
Mahan owns the edge in every meaningful stat category over Cink, but the British Open champ at even money is hard to pass up. Padraig Harrington went bananas after winning the British last year and maybe Cink can as well. Stewart was having a mediocre season until two weeks ago, so he’ll have to bring back the same form that he had at Turnberry to beat Mahan in this match.