Dustin Johnson, you made me look bad! I really didn't expect good results from Johnson at last week's World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron. After all, DJ was playing for the first time since a very emotional win at the U.S. Open. Hard to be focused, I figured.
But clearly this is the new-and-improved Johnson as he did win the big-money event, his first career back-to-back victories. His consecutive 66s on the weekend allowed him to make up a six-shot deficit to world No. 1 Jason Day. Johnson has now moved up to a career-high No. 2 in the world rankings and is No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings. With as long as Johnson hits, if he's accurate off the tee he's going to be tough to beat. And he was fourth in driving accuracy in Akron while averaging a ridiculous 341.1 yards off the tee.
The course played very difficult as the 6-under-par winning score matched the highest winning score in the tournament's history. Day should have won the tournament but imploded late on Sunday as he played the final four holes in 4 over, missing a four-foot par putt on No. 15 and scoring a double-bogey at the par-5 16th. He finished with a 2-over-72 to be tied for third at 3 under with Jordan Spieth (who tripled the 16th on Saturday), Matt Kuchar and Kevin Chappell. Scott Piercy took second alone at 5 under.
My value pick to win last week was Jason Dufner at +4000. He finished 51st. I did get Day as the top Aussie at -200 and Spieth at -125 for a Top-10 finish. Missed on Jim Furyk (T42) and Brooks Koepka (WD during his first-round struggles).
As for this week's PGA Tour stop, well, there isn't one. It was supposed to be the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia, but damage from severe flooding in that state caused the PGA Tour to cancel the tournament -- the final warm-up for several pros for next week's British Open. The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, a national historic landmark in the Allegheny Mountains that dates to 1778, has closed indefinitely due to damage. It's only the third time in the past 20 years an event has been completely canceled. The other two were the 2009 Viking Classic in Mississippi and the 1996 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
So I will shift over to Europe for the Scottish Open this week, and I'm sure the golfers that were smart enough to head over to Scotland (where the British Open will be played at Royal Troon) are surely glad they committed to that tournament instead of the Greenbrier. At least those who prefer playing the week before a major. I believe you should before the British Open to get used to links-style golf across the pond.
By the way, Johnson, Spieth, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler will qualify for the first U.S. men's Olympic golf team in 112 years when the final rankings are released July 11. That's because no American competing in the week's Scottish Open can surpass Fowler for the fourth and final spot on the U.S. roster. The Greenbrier was to have been the final American-based qualifying event. But will all four go? Many guys have been pulling out of playing in Rio, including Day.
While Day, Johnson, Spieth and Rory McIlroy are all taking this week off, it's a pretty decent field for the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart Golf Links in Inverness. The defending champion is Fowler but he's not playing either. Fowler birdied three of the last four holes at a different course for a 2-under 68 in his final round to pass Kuchar and win by one shot. Raphael Jacquelin was T2 with Kuchar. Fowler was the fourth American to ever win this event.
Golf Odds: Scottish Open Favorites
The Bovada favorite is Sweden's Henrik Stenson at +900. He has struggled on the PGA Tour of late, missing the cut at the Wells Fargo and Players Championship and withdrawing from the U.S. Open (calf injury). But Stenson won the BMW International Open on the Euro Tour on June 26. He didn't play this event last year.
South African Branden Grace is +1200. He was T17 in this event last year and T10 last week in Akron. The favorites are rounded out by Phil Mickelson (+1600), German Martin Kaymer (+1800), and Shane Lowry (+1800). Lowry was 31st last year and T36 last week. Mickelson was T27 in Akron. The last time the Scottish Open was held at Castle Stuart in 2013, Lefty won over Grace in a playoff. Mickelson went on to create history the next week by becoming the first player to win the Scottish Open and then the British Open. Kaymer won this event in 2009 at a different course. He was fifth last week in France.
Golf Odds: Scottish Open Picks
For a Top 10, I like Stenson (-140), Grace (+225), Patrick Reed (+450) and last week's European Tour winner Thongchai Jaidee (+650). Bovada offers a prop of Stenson/Grace and Mickelson (+300) vs. the field (-450).
Go Reed at +250 as top American, Jaidee (+150) as top Asian and Padraig Harrington (+450) as top Irishman. Head-to-head, go Kaymer (-110) over Lowry (-120), Reed (+115) over Mickelson (-150), Chris Wood (even) over Andy Sullivan (-130), and David Lingmerth (-105) over Rafael Cabrera Bello (-125).
My winner is Grace, who usually excels on links courses. I'm going to recommend that field prop, though, as a hedge against my Grace pick.
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