PGA Tour Picks: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
Sometimes, I talk myself out of picking the overall favorite in a PGA Tour event, because what fun is going chalk? An average joe could do that every week. Perhaps I should follow my gut more often. I did think there was a pretty good chance that world No. 1 Dustin Johnson would win last week's Canadian Open after coming so close to doing so twice before.
Win it DJ did, shooting a final round 6-under and finishing at 23-under overall, three clear of the field. It was his 19th PGA Tour title in 235 events, and Johnson now has a pretty big lead in the FedEx Cup points standings. It was also Johnson's third win this season, tying Bubba Watson for the Tour lead. In those 14 starts, Johnson has been a 54-hole leader/co-leader six times and has now converted three of those. It's the third year in a row that he has won at least three events - still pretty amazing he has just that one career major title. Johnson, remember, had a four-shot lead halfway through this year's U.S. Open.
I only recommended Johnson for a Top 10 last week at a silly price of -240 and got him at -140 over Brooks Koepka (+110), who missed the cut. I went with a longer-shot choice in Charley Hoffman to win and he finished T29 at 11-under.
So, we move on to the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. This tournament debuted in 1999 and Firestone Country Club's South Course in Akron has hosted it every year but once since then (in 2002 it was held outside Seattle). This will be the last time. The former St. Jude Classic in Memphis will take over this spot and be known going forward as the FedEx WGC-St. Jude Invitational. FedEx is about the biggest sponsor on Tour, so it gets what it wants. Bummer for Akron folks, who already lost hometown hero LeBron James again (although on Monday he did open a school in the city). Firestone will host the Senior Players Championship starting next year.
Only the best of the best get into these WGC events, which have larger purses and smaller fields - hence called an invitational. Basically, you had to have won a tournament in the previous year or be ranked in the Top 50 of the world. Each member of the Top 50 is set to play in what is the best field of the year. Seven guys will make their WGC debut overall. Firestone is a par-70 measuring 7,400 yards. Like most courses, how it plays depends on the weather. Tiger Woods holds the tournament scoring records at 259 in 2000, but a couple of years ago the winner was only 6-under.
The defending champion is Japan's Hideki Matsuyama. He tied the tournament record last year with a final-round 61 to finish at 16-under, five shots up on Zach Johnson. Matsuyama started the final round two shots behind Thomas Pieters and Johnson but chipped in for eagle on the first hole and was off and running. Only one player has won this event multiple times. I'll get to him in a second. Matsuyama isn't having a very good 2018, partly due to injuries.
Golf Odds: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Favorites
Johnson is the +700 favorite at Bovada to win back-to-back weeks - perhaps missing the British Open cut was the best thing to happen to him. DJ won here in 2016 at 6-under but otherwise doesn't have a stellar track record at Firestone. You know my feelings about guys winning back-to-back tournaments (I'll never recommend it).
Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Tiger Woods are all +1200. Tiger qualified by sneaking into the Top 50 with his strong play at the British Open. He has won this tournament eight times but hasn't played it since 2014. No player has won an event at the same course nine times; Tiger also has eight wins at Torrey Pines and Bay Hill, and Sam Snead won eight times in Greensboro. McIlroy was the 2014 champion here and comes off a runner-up at Carnoustie. He was fifth in Akron last year. Rose was also T2 at the British Open and was 46th here in his last trip in 2016 but does have a T3, T4 and T5 at Akron since 2012.
Jordan Spieth (+1800) and Rickie Fowler (+2000) round out the favorites. Neither has won here, but Spieth was third in 2016 and Fowler has four straight Top 10s at Firestone.
Golf Odds: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Picks
For a Top 10, I don't like DJ but do McIlroy (-125), Rose (+120), Fowler (+175) and a longer-shot chance on Kevin Chappell (+500), who has been T3 and T13 here in two trips. Go Rory (+350) as top European and Fowler (+800) as top American. Take a shot on former champion Adam Scott (+1000) as top rest of the world.
Head-to-head, bet Justin Thomas (-125) over Francesco Molinari (-105), Sergio Garcia (-110) over Phil Mickelson (-120), McIlroy (+135) over Johnson (-175), and Rose (-105) over Tiger (-125). Bovada offers a prop of DJ and McIlroy at +400 vs. the field (-650), but I'm not big on Johnson (McIlroy and Rose or Fowler I would take). So, we'll just ride solo on Rory this week to win.
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