Wednesday, August 2, 2017
What To Look For: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
The last leg of the World Golf Championships takes place at Firestone Country Club. The WCG-Bridgestone Invitational is considered to be founded in 1999, but the Tour has actually been playing at Firestone since 1954 at the Rubber City Invitational.
Firestone CC consists of three different courses, the North, South and the West. The PGA Tour events have almost exclusively been played at the South Course. They did play the North course in 1976 and 1994, but it was generally disliked compared to the South course.
The South Course plays to 7,400 yards flat and a 75.1 handicap index. However, it is only a par-70. The general consensus from Tour players on Firestone is very positive. It’s not impossible, but it’s still a very strong ballstrikers course that is in superb condition, isn’t tricked up and usually has fantastic crowds. It also helps that it has one of the biggest purses on Tour and there is no cut line.
In order to qualify for the event, a player must meet one of the following criteria:
• Playing members of the last named Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup teams (whichever was played last).
• Players ranked among the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking (one week and two weeks prior to event).
• Tournament winners of worldwide events since the prior year's tournament with an Official World Golf Ranking Strength of Field Rating of 115 points or more.
• The winner of one selected tournament from each of the PGA Tour of Australasia, Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour and two selected tournaments from the Japan Golf Tour.
Most of the strokes lost/gained here will come off the tee and approach shots from mid-to-long range. What I like about Firestone is that while it’s a ballstriker’s course, it’s not necessarily a long ball hitter course as Craig Parry and Hunter Mahan have won here.
What I don’t like about the course is the Critical Holes are all on the front nine and the last critical hole is on the 494 yard par-4 9th hole.
Projected Winning Score: -13
Jordan Spieth +800
Rickie Fowler +1,600
Hideki Matsuyama +1,800
Jon Rahm +2,200
Paul Casey +3,300
Matt Kuchar +3,300
3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS
Gary Woodland +5,500
Charley Hoffman +5,500
Russell Henley +8,000
Bryson DeChambeau +12,500