2010 WGC Bridgestone Invitational Preview and Picks to Win

Tournament: The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
Dates: August 5th-8th, 2010
Course: Firestone Country Club (South Course) Akron, OH
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by Evergreen of Predictem.com

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There is still one week remaining before the years last Major, but the field at the WGC-Bridgestone will be at Major-like strength as the best in the world descend on Firestone CC in Akron, Ohio. This event belongs to Tiger Woods who not only will be defending this week but will be looking to win for the 8th time. His 2009 victory featured a 65/65 finish to win by four shots and Vegas has installed him as the favorite despite his ups and downs this season. The WGC events are limited to the top-64 in the world, so the winner will truly have to climb one of the steepest hills of the Tour season.

Firestones South Course is one of the true monsters in the PGA rotation, playing at par-70 and measuring a massive 7,400 yards. Many of the par-4s are over 450 yards and the design is punctuated by the 667 yard, par-5, 15th that is the longest hole on Tour. Firestone played as the 11th toughest course in 2009 play and requires players to avoid over 80 bunkers and also negotiate greens that will be rolling at 12+ on the stimpmeter. Good scores will be had as the best always find a way; just dont expect another 59 to come out of this layout.

Each week, we take a look at the online golf sportsbooks and highlight the players that we think can win it all. Well make a short, middle and long odds pick and breakdown a few head to head matches as well. Here are our picks for the 2010 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Short Favorite: Phil Mickelson (10 to 1 odds to win)
Its another week for Phil that includes a potential move to #1 in the world should he win and while his results under those circumstances havent been great so far, the Bridgestone could be the breakthrough event. Mickelson has the length to attack this course and his overall game has produced the 9th best birdie and scoring averages to this point. He will have to hit more fairways than he has to contend, but playing from trouble has never been an issue for Lefty, either. Phil does have a T4 in 2008 as his best Bridgestone finish and he should be plenty rested as he makes just his fourth start since the start of June.

Middle of the Road: Paul Casey (30 to 1 odds to win)
Casey has been a picture of consistency this year, missing just three cuts so far and finishing in the top-10 in five of eight finishes. Paul has two top-10s at Firestone since 2006 and can get it done anywhere with the 3rd best all around stat sheet. Caseys 31st ranked driving distance is good enough to handle the distance here and his top-25 ranks in greens hit and putting average should give him a leg up on the field as a whole. Paul also is in the top-16 in ballstriking, scoring and birdie average making his 30 to 1 odds a great value in this spot.

Longshot: Dustin Johnson (40 to 1 odds to win)
There really arent too many longshots this week given the talent at this event, but Dustin is a good player in this spot as his length alone should make him a factor. Johnson is 3rd in driving distance on Tour and he complements that well with the 6th best birdie or better % on par-3s for a well balanced game. He comes into the week ranked 38th in GIR% and 19th in birdie average while leading the Tour in eagles. His lone Bridgestone start resulted in a T22 so some course familiarity should only help improve upon that finish.

Head to Head Matches (our pick) *matches are for entire event. Check with your favorite online bookie for single round matches and prop bets.

Ernie Els (-115) v. Jim Furyk (-115) (Furyk)
The easy thing would be to give the edge to Els with his distance advantage, but Furyk has enjoyed the better success at Firestone by wearing out the fairways and limiting damage. Els still owns one of the best scoring averages on Tour, but seems to be making the mistakes that he wasnt making in the early part of the season. Look for Furyk to win this one with his steady approach and ability to find the short grass.

Hunter Mahan (-115) v. Retief Goosen (-115) (Goosen)
Mahan remains one of the best ballstrikers on Tour, but his struggles with the putter are just too frequent to favor him in this or any match. Mahan is currently outside the top-150 in putting average, dropping his scoring average to 61st while Goosen comes in at 8th. The greens will be running fast at Firestone so dont look for Mahan to snap out of his woes this week.

Good Luck!