Bobby Hurley I'm very familiar with. He was a former All-American point guard and two-time national champion at Duke who is currently the head basketball coach at Arizona State. Billy Hurley III? Can't say I knew too much about the guy, but he won the Quicken Loans National at Congressional outside Washington, D.C., on Sunday.
Hurley shot four rounds in the 60s to finish at 17-under 267 and beat out second-place Vijay Singh by three shots. It was extra sweet for Hurley as he's from that area -- he's a Naval Academy graduate who lives in Annapolis -- and had plenty of friends and family in attendance. Coming into the tournament, Hurley was ranked 607th in the world and had not finished higher than 41st in 11 previous events. It took a sponsor's exemption from Tiger Woods to get Hurley into the field. Two of Hurley's previous career-best finishes (T4, T8) on Tour had occurred at the event. The win got Hurley into both this week's event (he's a +15000 long shot) and the British Open, among others.
It had to be especially sweet as at Quicken Loans National in 2015, Hurley announced that his father, Bill Hurley Jr., had gone missing and begged him to return home. Hurley Jr., a former cop, would be found that week in a Texas library (watching his son play) but two weeks later shot himself.
Needless to say, I didn't even touch on Hurley last week. My winner was Charley Hoffman at +3000. He finished T57. Missed on my other Top-10 picks in Patrick Reed (T39) and Gary Woodland (T21). Martin Laird was my top European choice but was T21. Liked John Senden as the top Aussie but he was T29. I hit on a few head-to-head props but overall one of the worst events of the year. Maybe I was flat after the U.S. Open.
Before I get to this week's big-money WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron -- home of NBA champion LeBron James -- let's touch on Tiger again real quick. I said last week that if he couldn't even play the tournament he hosts that I didn't expect to see Tiger at all the rest of the season. And Woods has now admitted he's not sure he will make it back in 2016. "I'm going to do it right so I don't have another surgery," he said Sunday. Tiger added he's able to play 18 holes on consecutive days now but needs to get in golf shape. I honestly didn't think there was such a thing as "golf shape". Woods has won this tournament eight times.
As for the WGC-Bridgestone, there are just 61 players competing, and there's no cut. Some of the top Europeans, led by Rory McIlroy and Masters winner Danny Willett, are staying overseas ahead of the British Open and playing in France this week because the European Tour is basically making them. This tournament is earlier on the schedule than usual because of the Olympics next month, and the Euro Tour didn't like the shift. There's also an opposite-field PGA Tour event in Nevada for guys who didn't qualify here.
Dustin Johnson makes his first start as a major champion off his U.S. Open victory. The defending champion is Irishman Shane Lowry, who also contended at the U.S. Open two weeks ago (finishing T2). He shot a bogey-free final round of 66 here to win by two shots for his first PGA Tour win (he had two European Tour wins). Lowry, who joined Jose Maria Olazabal and Nick Price as the only men in the last 40 years to win their first PGA Tour event at Firestone, hasn't had a victory since. Bubba Watson finished second last year. Justin Rose and Jim Furyk were third at 7 under.
Golf Odds: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Favorites
World No. 1 Jason Day is the +550 favorite at Bovada. He comes off a T8 finish at the U.S. Open. Day was 12th here last year and hasn't had a Top 10 at Firestone since 2011 (fourth).
Johnson is the +700 second-favorite, and I don't like him at all after that emotional win at Oakmont. Yes, he's more grown up now and I'm sure hasn't spent the time since partying (a year or two ago he would have), but I don't see him being ultra-focused. Johnson hasn't had a Top 10 here this decade.
Jordan Spieth (+900), Brooks Koepka (+1800) and Adam Scott (+2200) round out the favorites. Spieth was 10th here last year and 37th at the U.S. Open. Koepka debuted here in 2015 with a T6. He has finished in two of his past three events this year. Scott won here in 2011 but was 45th last year and really hasn't been the same guy this year since winning twice in Florida.
PGA Tour Picks: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Predictions
For a Top 10, I like Spieth (-125), Koepka (+125) and Furyk (+175), who has nine Top 10s here all-time without a victory. Head-to-head, go with Day (-140) over Johnson (-125), Spieth (-105) over DJ (-125), Koepka (-115) over Scott (-115), and Hideki Matsuyama over Rickie Fowler (-110).
There are props on Day/Johnson (+220) vs. the field (-300), Day/Spieth (+250) vs. the field (-350), Johnson/Spieth (+275) vs. the field (-400) and Day/Johnson/Spieth (+130) vs. the field (-170). I'd go the field at the best price on the last one there. I do believe Day (-200) will the top Aussie and Lowry (+325) as top European.
I am very tempted on both Koepka and Furyk to win here. My top pick, though, would be that -170 field price. I'm also throwing some money down on Jason Dufner at a sweet price of +4000 to win. He has two Top 10s here in three visits and comes off a T8 at the U.S. Open. Dufner is having a nice season overall.
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