PGA Tour Picks: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 7/31/2013
I just can't catch a break!! While I applaud Hunter Mahan for being the father of the year by leaving last week's Canadian Open with the 36-hole lead -- thus flushing potentially $1 million down the toilet -- I had picked Mahan to win the tournament. I'm glad he did make it home to see the birth of daughter Zoe. Obviously, there's no way of knowing if Mahan would have held on, especially after eventual winner Brandt Snedeker shot a 63 on Saturday.
Snedeker shot a 2-under 70 on Sunday for his second win of the season -- his caddie is Canadian, so that's cool -- and it now seems a lock that he will qualify for the Tour Championship, currently standing third in points. That would be notable because no reigning FedEx Cup winner, as Snedeker is, has qualified for the following year's Tour Championship.
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I was in line to have a great tournament. I hit on Snedeker (+135) on a Top 10 as well as Dustin Johnson (+225), who was among four tied for second. Canadian Graham DeLaet disappointed with a missed cut as I had recommended him on a few props. I also hit on Jim Furyk (-115) head-to-head over Ernie Els and Johnson (-115) over Luke Donald. Ditto on a hole-in-one by any player at -120.
This week it's the big-money World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in Akron. Mahan is staying home to hang out with Zoe but will play next week at the PGA Championship. He and Louis Oosthuizen are the only players in the Top 50 set to sit this out. Oosthuizen will miss the next two months due to injury. He was having a rough year as it was.
You definitely need some length off the tee to win at Firestone as it can play as long as 7,400 yards, making it the longest par-70 on the Tour. The 16th is one of two par 5s and plays at an obscene 667 yards. This event is a lot like the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill as Tiger Woods simply owns it. He has won this tournament seven times and finished outside the Top 10 just twice.
For once, Tiger might not be the top story line. That belongs to Phil Mickelson, who is still riding high from his huge Sunday at Muirfield to win his first British Open. Mickelson is bringing the Claret Jug everywhere he goes, including to this event and again next week at the PGA Championship.
You may remember last year's WGC-Bridgestone. Keegan Bradley won it, only because Jim Furyk made double-bogey on the 72nd hole despite lying two in the middle of the fairway. He missed a five-foot bogey putt to force a playoff. Furyk had led from Round 1. Bradley never led while he was on the course but shot a brilliant final-round 64. He had to get up-and-down from a bunker on No. 18 Sunday to put any pressure on Furyk. It was Bradley's first WGC title of any kind.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Favorites
Obviously Woods is the overwhelming favorite at Bovada, at 9/2. He hasn't won at Firestone since 2009 and his T8 last year was his best result since the win. There are a handful of courses Tiger dominates: Torrey Pines, Bay Hill, Muirfield Village and this one. He won at Torrey and Bay Hill this year but curiously wasn't good at the Memorial. Tiger did seem fine with his injury last time out with a T6 at the British Open at Scotland's Muirfield.
Adam Scott is next at 12/1. He hadn't played great since winning the Masters, which happens to many players, but finished T3 at the British Open. He won this tournament in 2011, going wire-to-wire. That's one of three Top-10s at Firestone. Mickelson is 14/1. He won this in 1996 when it was called the NEC World Series of Golf (and not on Firestone's South course). In his past 10 starts here he has one Top-10, and it was back in 2008.
Brandt Snedeker (20/1), Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar (both 22/1) round out the favorites. Snedeker is clearly back to his early-season form -- and will be sending Mahan's child a nice gift, he said. However, I've said it before and will again: You just don't win back-to-back weeks on the PGA Tour. Rose surprisingly missed the cut at the British Open but got his second career T5 at Firestone last year. Kuchar was a co-runner-up last week, his seventh Top-10 of the year (two of those wins). He's been Top 10 in two of his past three at Firestone.
PGA Tour Picks: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Predictions
I'll say right off; I expect less than nothing from Mickelson. Yes, he's playing perhaps the best golf of his career, but his mind won't be here but on the PGA Championship. Shoot, he played Oak Hill on Monday to prepare for that. He's in Akron in body alone, and no one wins three consecutive starts.
I do like Woods with a Top-10 finish at -250 and probably would even recommend Top 5 at -110. Also take Kuchar on Top-10 at +175 and Dustin Johnson at +175. This tournament doesn't go to a playoff often, so take one stroke as the winning margin at +275. I like Lee Westwood at 5/2 as the top English player -- maybe he can put the British Open Sunday behind him. Jump on Graeme McDowell as the top Irishman at +175 -- can't believe Rory McIlroy is the -120 favorite.
Head-to-head, I like Henrik Stenson (-120) over Luke Donald (-110), Tiger (-175) by a mile over Mickelson (+125), Westwood (-130) over McIlroy (even) and Bradley (-115) over Sergio Garcia (-115).
I believe Woods wins, but I am putting some money down on Henrik Stenson at 40/1. He doesn't have a great record at Firestone but was T3 at the Scottish Open and then second at the British. He's way overdue for a victory in 2013.
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