PGA Tour Picks: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 7/30/2014
This is why projecting a winner of a golf tournament is so darn hard. Last week South African Tim Clark entered the Canadian Open having made just 10 cuts in his past 20 events. He was an afterthought. So of course he won the tournament, with Jim Furyk continuing his concerning trend of blowing 54-hole leads.
Clark shot a final-round 65, including a 5-under 30 on the back nine, to finish at 17 under and a shot ahead of Furyk. It was Clark's second career Tour win; his wife is from Canada, so that's nice. Furyk, meanwhile, has failed to convert seven straight 54-hole leads since his last victory in 2010. It was his third runner-up finish this year and whopping 28th career. Furyk, the 10/1 opening favorite at Bovada, had a three-shot lead heading into Sunday. He missed a 12-footer on the 72nd hole that would have forced a playoff.
Needless to say, I didn't recommend Clark. I went with Dustin Johnson, and he missed the cut after shooting 74-68. On the Top-10 props, I hit on Matt Kuchar at +130, Graeme McDowell at +150 and Graham DeLaet at +200. I also got DeLaet as the low Canadian at 15/8. Head-to-head, I also cashed in on DeLaet over Luke Donald (whose game is really a mess). So not totally awful.
This week it's the final big regular-season event on Tour with the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron. It's an awesome field with each of the world's Top 50 set to play (there's also an opposite-field event in Reno that uses the Modified Stableford scoring system this week).
If Tiger Woods is ever going to get right, it should be here. Last year Tiger took control of the tournament on Friday when he flirted with a 59 but finished with a 61 after closing his round with five straight pars. He won by seven shots, and it was his eighth victory in this event (he hasn't won since), tying a record he and Sam Snead hold for most wins in one tournament. Tiger also has eight wins at Arnold Palmer's event at Bay Hill. In 14 WGC events since the start of 2011, Tiger is the only guy with two wins (also the 2013 WGC-Cadillac at Doral). The past five winners here have all finished 11th or better in greens in regulation, so a strong short game matters. Woods was T2 in GIR last year. He probably has to win this week or next at the PGA Championship to get into the FedEx Cup playoffs. He's sitting in the 215th spot in the rankings. To qualify for the playoffs, a player needs to be inside the Top 125.
Of course, this is also Rory McIlroy's first event since his wire-to-wire win at the British Open. He's up to No. 2 in the world and closing fast on Adam Scott, who has been No. 1 for 11 weeks. Which Phil Mickelson will we see? He has yet to be a factor in a single tournament in 2014. I don't like his chances this week as Lefty has a single Top 20 finish in his last 11 starts (T-4 in 2008) at Firestone.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Favorites
McIlroy is going to get the Tiger treatment for the rest of the year as the heavy favorite, and he's 6/1 at Bovada this week. Yes, I saw how dominant he was at Royal Liverpool, but I'm guessing he's still mentally checked out after winning the British Open for the first time. He'll be more focused on next week. McIlroy has played here five times, with three Top 10s, a best of T5 in 2012. He has never won a WGC event.
Scott is 10/1. He won here in 2011 and has been playing great. His last four PGA Tour events: a win (Colonial) and three other Top 10s. Scott is among the GIR leaders on Tour this year, so that's a good sign.
Tiger is 14/1, and I wonder where his confidence is after that 69th at the British Open. Woods has finished outside the Top 10 just twice here. The favorites are rounded out by Justin Rose (16/1), Furyk (20/1) and Rickie Fowler (20/1). Rose was a runner-up here in 2007, and his best result since is fifth in 2012. Furyk really deserves a win. He has three Top-10 finishes in the last four years at Firestone. It's still hard to believe Fowler has just one career win. He has been magnificent in majors this year, so perhaps he's going to be too focused on next week.
PGA Tour Picks: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Predictions
On the Top-10 props, I like Scott (-110), Furyk (+170), Keegan Bradley (+185) and Kuchar (+225). Take Scott at 2/3 as the top Aussie, Rose at 2/3 as the top Englishman and Mr. Interesting Miguel Angel Jimenez as the top Spaniard at +450. Sergio Garcia (-188) does not have a good track record here. I like an American at -110 as the winning nationality.
Head-to-head, take Woods at +175 over McIlroy (-230) just purely because that's a great price and Tiger does love this course. I like Scott at -105 over McIlroy (-125), Fowler (-120) over Henrik Stenson (-110), Jordan Spieth (-115) over Garcia (-115), Bradley (-135) over Martin Kaymer (+105), Kuchar (-135) over Mickelson (+105) and Jason Dufner (-115) over Jason Day (-115).
My guy to win is Bradley at 22/1. He has yet to win this year but has five Top 10s, and in three starts in the event he has a victory, a runner-up (last year) and a T-15 finish.
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