PGA Tour Picks: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
Perhaps Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas should apply for a work visa in Canada; hey, they have good health care (and Venezuela is a mess right now)! Plus Vegas clearly likes playing in the one PGA Tour event each year north of the border.
Vegas entered last week's tournament at Glen Abbey in Ontario really struggling this season with nine missed cuts in 23 tournaments, including his past five. Yet he became the sixth player overall and first since Jim Furyk in 2006-07 to repeat at the Canadian Open. Vegas beat American Charley Hoffman in a playoff and probably locked up a spot on the International Team for this fall's Presidents Cup.
Apparently, Vegas made a club change ahead of the tournament, returning to his Mizuno MP-4 irons, which had similar specs to the Nike set he used last year (Nike no longer makes golf clubs). Over four days this year, he ranked seventh in strokes gained-approach to green, his best performance of the season. Vegas birdied the first playoff hole to eliminate Hoffman. The duo finished at 21-under 267. Hoffman, the third-round leader, birdied the 18 th to force it.
"My ball-striking was great this week, which is something that I've been struggling with the past few weeks," Vegas said. "I feel like I hit a lot of greens and gave myself a lot of opportunities."
Needless to say, I didn't expect much from Vegas last week. I took a prop on Tony Finau (my main guy), Matt Kuchar and Hoffman at +475 vs. the field (-800) so that stung on Hoffman. Hit on a Top 10 for Dustin Johnson, who finished T8. Also nailed a few head-to-head props.
This week, it's a much better field at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron. You have to qualify for this big-money tournament with a win, Top 50 world ranking or via a few other routes (there's an opposite field event in Reno this week as well). There are expected to be 78 players in the field, although Brandt Snedeker isn't one of them as he's out a third straight week with a rib injury. Two interesting stories this week as Rod Pampling plays a WGC event for the first time in eight years thanks to a win last November. Lee Westwood plays a 58th WGC tournament and is yet to win one.
Tiger Woods used to own this event with eight career victories. No one else even has two. Firestone's South Course is the longest non-major par-70 on Tour at 7,400 yards. Woods holds the 72-hole record of 259 in 2000.
Johnson, still the world No. 1, is the defending champion. He shot a final round 4-under 66 to rally from a three-shot deficit behind then-No. 1 Jason Day. That was DJ's second straight victory at the time following his first major title at the 2016 U.S. Open. Conditions were really tough last year as Johnson finished at 6-under 274, matching the highest winning score at this tournament since Woods at 6 under in 2005. Nine players finished under par, the fewest since Woods was the only player to break par in 2007. Just for a point of comparison, Shane Lowry won the tournament in 2015 at 11 under.
Golf Odds: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Favorites
At Bovada , Jordan Spieth is the +700 favorite, the first time since early this year that Johnson isn't the guy. Spieth is looking to win a third straight tournament, which Johnson did this winter to secure the world's top spot. Spieth had that terrific duel vs. Matt Kuchar at the British Open and won the Travelers Championship the event prior to that. He has played here three times and has a best result of third last year.
Johnson is +900 to repeat. Tiger won it three straight in one stretch and four in a row in another. Johnson didn't have a great history at this track until last year. It was his first Top 10.
Rory McIlroy (+900), Rickie Fowler (+1400) and Brooks Koepka (+1600) round out the leaders. McIlroy made news this week in splitting with his caddie, which surprised many considering he just sang the guy's praises after a fourth-place finish at the British Open. J.P. Fitzgerald had been on the bag for nine years and four major titles. Rory has four Top 10s here this decade, winning in 2014 at 15 under.
Koepka finished sixth in the British Open in his first outing since victory at the U.S. Open. He was sixth here in 2015 and WD last year. Fowler has three straight Top 10s at Firestone and was a runner-up in 2011.
Golf Odds: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Picks
Americans have won this event, which has been around in its current format, all but four times - but obviously Tiger's a big part of that. For a Top 10, I like Spieth (+160), Koepka (+140) and Justin Rose (+200).
For top European, Rose is the pick at +800. Henrik Stenson (+350) for top continental European, former champion Adam Scott (+175) as top Aussie. Head-to-head, I like Patrick Reed (-115) over Charl Schwartzel (-115), Kuchar (-115) over Sergio Garcia (-115), Rose (-120) over Scott (-110), Stenson (-115) over Day (-115), Koepka (-115) over Fowler (-115), Hideki Matsuyama (-125) over Jon Rahm, and Spieth (-125) over Johnson (-105).
I am high on Rose at +2500 to win. He has three Top 5s here since 2012 but yet to win it. Stenson also is interesting at +2200 with a sixth here in 2015 and runner-up in 2013. I'll likely bet a bit on Rose and then hedge with Spieth, Johnson and McIlroy at +220 vs. the field (-300).
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