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Bridgestone Invitational Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 08/01/2012

The PGA Tour is doing double duty this week, the third time this season that a regular tour event and a WGC event are taking place the same week. This week, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational takes center stage with all but one player in the top 50 in the OWGR competing from the Firestone Country Club South Course in Akron, Ohio. The Reno-Tahoe has to deal with that along with preceding the PGA Championship.

We will keep our focus on the Bridgestone for betting purposes as we have a field that has not been seen on many occasions this season because of its strength. In total, 78 players are in the limited field and as is the normal case in these invitational tournaments, there is no cut and the winner’s purse is $1.4 million while the minimum payout is $35,000 so there is a lot on the line.

The South Course at Firestone seems almost unfair to amateurs as it is a par 70 but measures 7,400 yards making it the longest par 70 course of all non-majors. Surprisingly, the bombers off the tee do not have a huge edge as the real way to score is hitting greens in regulation as the greens can be very receptive and can lead to good birdie chances. Firestone South ranked 18th out of 51 courses in difficulty last season.

With the steady rise of European players to the top of the World Golf Ranking, you would think they would be the favorite for one of them to take the championship. Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald are three of the favorites heading in but a European player has never won the Bridgestone Invitational. All streaks come to an end sometime as this one could be stopped this year.

The favorite this week is Tiger Woods (+450) which comes as no surprise as he is a seven-time winner at this event. He also has 10 top five finishes in 12 starts and while his last two starts at Firestone have not been good, he comes in playing very well this year. He has won three times this year and currently leads the FedEx Cup Standings but there is absolutely no value at 4.5/1.

Zach Johnson (+2,500) is not a long hitter and while this is a long course, he will not be at a disadvantage due to the overly dry conditions. He has two wins on tour this year and he is coming off a T9 at the Open Championship which was his most recent start. He is first on tour in strokes gained in putting and while his record at Firestone is not the best, he did finish T6 here last year.

Bubba Watson (+3,000) can tame the length of this course with his driver and while he can spray it everywhere, hitting into the rough this week is not a huge disadvantage. Even though he is 123rd in driving accuracy, he is first in hitting greens which shows how good of an iron player he is. He has six top tens on the year and while he has not placed inside the top 20 at the Bridgestone, he is a different player now.

Matt Kuchar (+3,000) is flying under the radar after a disappointing finish at the RBC Canadian Open despite being one of the favorites. He has a win this year at THE PLAYERS and has seven top tens in 15 medal play events. Now he goes up against a smaller field and he has done well here the last couple years with a T9 and a T19 in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Bo Van Pelt (+3,000) will again get a look following another stellar performance last week where he finished T7 at Hamilton. That was his tour-leading seventh top ten and while he has not won, he seems ready to break out. Tiger Woods was the only player standing in his way from a victory at the AT&T National and his T23 at Firestone a year ago was preceded by a T3 in 2010.

Nicolas Colsaerts (+5,000) could be the first European to win here even though he has never played in Akron. He hits the ball a long way as his 'Belgian Bomber' nickname indicates but he has the all-around game to back it up. He won at the Volvo World Match Play Championship in May and has eight top tens worldwide on the season. This includes a T27 at the U.S. Open and a T7 at the Open Championship.

Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational – All for 1 Unit

Zach Johnson (+2,500)

Bubba Watson (+3,000)

Matt Kuchar (+3,000)

Bo Van Pelt (+3,000)

Nicolas Colsaerts (+5,000)

Record to date after 28 events: +63.1 Units

Sony Open -5 Units

Humana Challenge -6 Units

Farmers Insurance Open +22 Units

Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units

Northern Trust Open -5 Units

Accenture Match Play +7.1 Units

Honda Classic -5 Units

WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units

Transitions Championship +6 Units

Arnold Palmer Invitational -4 Units

Shell Houston Open +16 Units

The Masters -6 Units

RBC Heritage -5 Units

Valero Texas Open -4 Units

Zurich Classic of New Orleans +21 Units

Wells Fargo Championship +36 Units

THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units

HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial +11 Units

The Memorial -5 Units

FedEx St. Jude Classic -5 Units

U.S. Open -5 Units

Travelers Championship -5 Units

AT&T National -5 Units

Greenbrier Classic -5 Units

John Deere Classic +8 Units

The Open Championship +36 Units

RBC Canadian Open -5 Units

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