WGC Bridgestone Invitational Predictions to Win
Date: August 6-9, 2015
Course: Firestone CC (South Course) Akron, OH
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by Evergreen, Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
With the PGA Championship and FedEx Playoffs looming, it is easy to think this week is another throw-away, but not so fast, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is on tap and the worlds best are in Akron to take on the Monster at Firestone CC. This event has been one of the best examples of Tigers dominance over the years as he has won here an amazing eight times since the WGC partnership started in 1999. Woods is not in attendance this week as only the top-75 in the world are invited and neither is defending Rory McIlroy as he nurses his injured ankle. All the rest are scheduled to take on the famed Firestone and look for the cream of the crop to provide some great golf as they have done here so often before.
If you follow a lot of players on social media, you will see many have taken a quick trip up to Wisconsin to sneak in a bit of practice at Whistling Straits prior to next weeks PGA Championship but everyone will be focused on winning come Thursday morning. The WGC events are really the greatest competitive environments that golf has and a WGC title as highly regarded as any of the non-Major championships. You will literally see the best in the world this week and the field is highlighted by Jordan Spieth. Given all the talent here, the field appears to be wide open but for some reason, Firestone usually requires a big name as a winner. Outside of Tiger and Rory, players like Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley and Viajy Singh have all won here. You have to go back to Craig Parry in 2002 to find a journeyman winner and even the runner-up finishers are very well known players. There is just something about this course that lends itself to the biggest names on Tour.
Firestone South has held the nickname of the Monster since Arnold Palmer dubbed it as such and the 7,400 yard, par-70 is certainly a massive track. The 16thhole is the longest par-5 in championship golf and measures 667 yards and to make it play all of that yardage, there is a pond that guards the front of the green. The par 3s are 200+ yards and there isnt even a gimme par-4 to be had. This course utilizes it length and puts more long irons in the hands of the players than they are typically used to. Given that, expect plenty of shots to find the greenside bunkers and many shots that hit the greens will come to rest a good ways outside that 10-15 true birdie range. Scores will be had however as the talent will shine through. The typical winning total has been in the 13-under par range and the longest hitters will have the opportunity to earn a few more birdie chances than their lighter hitting competition.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight the players that we think are the best bets to win. We make some picks to win and breakdown a couple of head to head matches that you can find at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Here are our picks to win the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Dustin Johnson (12 to 1 odds to win)
The WGC-Cadillac winner has had several close calls over the summer and hasnt missed a cut since March. He leads the Tour in driving distance, ranks 6thin birdies and nets the 3rdbest scoring average. Length is his standout strength but he is a top-5 putter in terms of average and is one of the best long range approach players on Tour. He hasnt done all that well in finishing off events but I doubt that is anything more than an anomaly. He has two runner-ups this year to go along with his Cadillac win and is a solid value for one of the clear favorites this week.
Bubba Watson (28 to 1 )
If you need length, is there a better player to have on your betting ticket? Bubba is the 3rdlongest player in terms of measured drives but he has plenty of gas left in the tank and can utilize some absurd power when necessary. He will likely be one of just a few that can challenge the 16thhole in two. Bubba missed the cut at both Opens but those are the only missed cuts on his 2015 season and he has a win and a T2 since Chambers Bay to offset those hiccups. Not surprisingly, Watson leads the Tour in eagles and is inside the top-7 in both birdies and scoring. It is hard to look past how far he hits the ball sometimes but he isnt a one-trick player and has the 9thranked all-around stat sheet. As a Major Champion, he fits the mold of the typical Firestone winner. Hunter Mahan is the only non-Major winner to win the Bridgestone since 2002.
Jimmy Walker (45 to 1)
It wasnt a true success last week for Jimmy as he wound up finishing T21 but he fired one of the best rounds of the summer with a Friday 63. He did everything right during that round and he one again displayed he is among the five or six best players in the world when he is going well. Walker is 19thin driving distance and enters the week 1stin strokes gained-putting, making for one of the best bookend players in the field. He has two wins already this season against solid competition and is firmly in the top-10 in birdies and scoring. A few inconsistencies and a quiet demeanor keep him from being a more recognizable star on Tour but he has all the making of regular Tour winner and is one of the best values in this field.
J.B. Holmes (100 to 1)
After hitting Zach Johnson at 80 to 1 to win the British Open, the long shot bets have felt like even longer shots but Holmes has the game to win this week. He doesnt really have the top-end record that Firestone seems to favor but he is 14thin the FedEx points race and 17thin the OWGR so he is not slouch either. Holmes won earlier this year at the Shell Houston event and has two runner-up finishes as well, including at the WGC-Cadillac. Confidence against a superior field is a big thing in these events so J.B. gets some points for keeping his cool when the best are in town. He is 7thin driving distance 10th in birdie average and is inside the top-30 in putting and the all-around. Holmes is not a good scrambler and his scoring average is 81stdespite that stellar birdie percentage. If he can limit the mistakes, he will be a factor and he will miss the weekend if he cant. Thats longshot betting for you.
Head to Head Matches
Picks to win based on final score after all four rounds. Check out Bovada Sportsbook for single round matches and prop bets.
Sergio Garcia v. Hideki Matsuyama (pick to win: Matsuyama)
The books love to put this kind of matchup out there. Two international players, one with a greater name and/or career record against a younger, lesser known but likely more talented player. Casual golf fans or golf bettors would see the well-known Garcia, who is having a fine season incidentally, and think he is an automatic favorite here. A little deeper look reveals Matsuyama as the better statistical player and the sharper bet. Now, the books are getting their cut no matter what given the guaranteed rake on most head to head wagers but if they would be installing a football-style betting favorite here, it would be Sergio and Matsuyama would be one of the biggest wise-guy dog picks of the week. Matsuyama and Garcia both hit the ball about the same distance but it is Matsuyama that has the edge in fairways hit and putting average, leading to more birdies per round. Garcia does own a slim scoring advantage but is not a tremendous scrambler so given four rounds at Firestone, I expect Matsuyama to use the more accurate length to a gain a meaningful advantage and win this matchup.
Zach Johnson v. Patrick Reed (pick to win: Reed)
Johnson is likely to get a lot of love as the new British Open Champion but cool you jets on him this week as Firestone is about as different as you can get from St. Andrews. Reed owns a significant distance advantage over Johnson and putts much better than Zach as well. That is important this week as better putters will slowly pull away from the field both in birdies but also in saved pars, something that often comes into play on courses that require a lot of long approaches. Johnson remains one of the better ballstrikers on Tour but he is a bit out of his preferred element on this type of course and while he has some top-10s here during his career, those finishes still saw him seven or even ten shots off the pace despite the quality finish.
Good luck and good golf!