Post by: Mike Philipps
The fourth and final World Golf Championship event of the season takes place this week in Akron, Ohio, as Firestone Country Club’s South Course (par 70, 7,400 yards) hosts the 2017 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Firestone regularly ranks as one of the most difficult venues on the PGA Tour – last year, only three non-major venues had a higher score over par, and that was with a loaded field.
Recommended Golf Betting Sites for the Bridgestone Invitational
WGC events feature highly concentrated fields of the world’s top-ranked players. Unlike regular tour events that have well over 100 players, the WGC-Bridgestone features just 76 players this week. In order to be invited to this year’s event, a player must:
- Be ranked in the 50 of the World Golf Rankings or
- Played in the 2016 Ryder Cup or
- Have won a worldwide tournament with a minimum Official World Golf Strength of Field Rating or
- Have select tournament victories from other major tours outside the PGA and European Tours
Not surprisingly, these high standards have produced a field this week that features 49 of the top 50 players in the world. The only player missing from the top-50 is Brandt Snedeker due to a rib injury. This year’s competitors will try to join Dustin Johnson (WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and WGC-Mexico) and Hideki Matsuyama (WGC-HSBC Champions) as WGC event champions this season.
2017 WGC Bridgestone Betting Odds
The remainder of this post will be dedicated to WGC Bridgestone betting odds and tips. We begin with a comparison of the outright odds across three major international betting sites and then again across three US-friendly sites for our American readers.
We focus on the outright odds for simplicity’s sake, but keep in mind major golf betting events like the Bridgestone Invitational tend to motivate online bookmakers to come up with all sorts of markets. Bet365 is usually the most active in this regard as they come up with at least two dozen unique markets for every noteworthy golf tournament.
If you don’t want to bet on who will win the 2017 WGC Invitational outright, you can also bet on winners by nationality, pick players to finish in the top 5, 10 or 20 and even pit individual golfers against one another and bet on which of those two will finish with the best score.
There are many betting options at Bet365 so they are our number one pick. However, you should always make sure to compare the odds across a few betting sites to make sure you get the best odds for your individual pick. You can get started by seeing how the top 20 players in the field compare across multiple bookmakers using the following tables.
Top Picks and Player Previews
Below is a rundown of some of the best options to finish at or near the top of the leaderboard. But with such a loaded field from top to bottom, it is truly anyone’s tournament. Dustin Johnson – ranked No. 3 at the time – won last year, while Shane Lowry – ranked No. 48 – won the year before. In all, 17 major champions – with 28 major titles to their names – are part of the field.
- World Golf Ranking: 2
- What to like: Spieth is coming off his third major championship at the British Open and has a personal two-event winning streak. After a bit of a down year in 2015-16, Spieth has re-emerged as a historic figure in the game of golf. He became the youngest player in history to collect three majors and 11 PGA Tour victories with the win at Royal Birkdale.
- What NOT to like: Spieth’s accuracy off the tee almost cost him each of his last two wins. He hit a poor tee shot in the sudden death playoff at the Travelers and struggled to find the fairway at Royal Birkdale – most notably on the 13th hole on Sunday when he missed so far right he had to play from the practice area.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Spieth has improved his standing each time he has played the WGC-Bridgestone, earning top-10 finishes the last two years. His best result came last year when he finished T-3 after leading the field in Total Putts.
- Last event: Spieth had one of the most remarkable final rounds in a major, winning the British Open two weeks ago. After losing a three-shot lead, he played the final five holes in five-under-par, capturing his third career major. By adding the third leg of the grand slam, he joined elite company. Only Jack Nicklaus had three of the four major titles at a younger age than the now-24-year-old Spieth. He ranked third in the field in Greens in Regulation during his wire-to-wire victory.
- World Golf Ranking: 1
- What to like: Johnson is the defending champ and the top-ranked player in the world. He leads the PGA Tour in victories this season with three, and ranks first in three Strokes Gained categories – Total, Off-the-Tee and Tee-to-Green. Johnson also ranks second – behind only Tiger Woods – in career WGC event wins with five.
- What NOT to like: Johnson has missed the cut in two of his last four events and finished T-54 at the Open Championship.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Johnson fired two rounds of 66 to come from behind and earn the win at last year’s WGC-Bridgestone. Making his first start since his win at the U.S. Open, DJ collected 11 birdies with just three bogeys on the weekend to make up a three-shot deficit heading into Sunday. The win is Johnson’s only top-10 at Firestone in seven career starts there.
- Last event: Johnson finished T-8 at last week’s RBC Canadian Open, carding four rounds in the 60s. It’s his sixth top-10 of the season.
- World Golf Ranking: 10
- What to like: Since missing four of the first six cuts of 2017, Koepka has been one of the hottest players on the planet. He has seven top-16 finishes in 10 starts, including a win at the U.S. Open and a T-6 at the British Open.
- What NOT to like: Not a lot to dislike about Koepka right now. He’s been on a roll for the past few months, and he seems to play his best in the elite fields.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Koepka finished T-6 in 2015, the only time he was able to complete the WGC-Bridgestone. Last year he had to withdraw due to an ankle injury that also kept him out of last year’s British Open.
- Last event: Koepka backed up his U.S. Open win with a T-6 at the British Open two weeks ago. He sat atop the leaderboard after an opening-round 65, but played the final three rounds in one-over-par. He ranked T-6 in the field in Total Putts for the week.
- World Golf Ranking: 4
- What to like: It was great to see McIlroy back in contention at the Open Championship two weeks ago after struggling with his game for a couple of months. If not for a slow start, McIlroy would have been in great position to collect a second Claret Jug. Despite the recent struggles, McIlroy still has seven top-10s in just 13 starts this season.
- What NOT to like: McIlroy is coming off three missed cuts in his last five starts. He hasn’t had a stretch like that since 2013.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: McIlroy won in his last trip to Firestone (2014), firing rounds of 64, 66 and 66 to hold off Sergio Garcia. For the week, he led the field in Driving Distance, Greens in Regulations and in Birdies. It’s far from his only strong showing at the WGC-Bridgestone. It was his fourth top-10 in just six career starts there.
- Last event: McIlroy looked more like the player we’ve come accustomed to seeing at the British Open, especially after some early struggles in the first round. After bogeying five of the first six holes, he played the final 66 holes in 10-under-par. He ended up finishing in a tie for fourth, his 10th top-five in a major.
- World Golf Ranking: 12
- What to like: Kuchar has been on fire since mid-May. He’s finished in the top-16 in each of his last six starts, including three top-four finishes. The highlight, of course, was his runner-up finish to Jordan Spieth at the British Open. Kuchar matched the eventual champ shot for shot until a late flurry knocked him off the pace. Despite the disappointment, Kuchar seems to be in a real groove right now.
- What NOT to like: For a little while, it looked like Kuchar was going to get two monkeys off his back at Royal Birkdale. Unfortunately for the 16-year PGA Tour vet, he was unable to capture a major and he couldn’t snap a 40-event winless streak. He hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2014.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Kuchar has three top-10s in eight career starts at the WGC-Bridgestone. Last year marked his best result, as a final-round 66 moved him into a tie for third.
- Last event: Kuchar spent the entire week in the top two at the British Open, even grabbing a one-shot lead with five holes to play, but failed to capture that elusive first major. He opened with a round of 65 on Thursday to join a group atop the leaderboard, while a 66 on Saturday put him in a position to battle Jordan Spieth for the title.
- World Golf Ranking: 13
- What to like: Rose has five top-four finishes in 2017 alone, and he’s arguably been the most consistent performer at Firestone CC. He’s a regular in the top-five whenever he tees it up there.
- What NOT to like: Rose has been a roller coaster ride since mid-April. After finishing second at the Masters, he mixed in two missed cuts, a T-54 and a T-65 with a T-4 and a T-12.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Rose has finished in the top-five in three of the last five years, bringing his career total to five at the WGC-Bridgestone. The only thing missing from his resume at Firestone CC is a win. He finished T-46 last year.
- Last event: Rose played the weekend in one-under-par at the Open Championship, but he couldn’t crack the top-50. He ended up in a tie for 54th.
- World Golf Ranking: 17
- What to like: Scott has an excellent record at Firestone, including a win in 2011. In 2016-17, he ranks in the top-20 in three Strokes Gained categories – Total (14th), Approach-the-Green (16th) and Tee-to-Green (17th).
- What NOT to like: After seven top-five finishes last season, Scott has just one in 2016-17, and that came back in December.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: The 2011 WGC-Bridgestone champion added a fifth top-10 to his resume last year with a T-10. In his career, Scott has seven rounds of 66 or better at Firestone, including three when he claimed his wire-to-wire victory.
- Last event: Scott fired bookend rounds under par at the British Open to bring his total to even par for the week. That was good enough for a T-22 finish, his 32nd career top-25 in a major.
- World Golf Ranking: 11
- What to like: Fowler has no real weaknesses in his game. He ranks no lower than 55th in any of the six Strokes Gained categories, and is 11th or better in four of them – Total (2nd), Putting (3rd), Approach-the-Green (9th) and Tee-to-Green (11th). Those stats have helped him earn eight top-10 finishes this season.
- What NOT to like: Aside from a blip on the radar in the late spring, Fowler has been one of the most consistent performers on the PGA Tour this season. It’s hard to nitpick his chances this week.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Fowler has four top-10s – including each of the last three – in just seven starts at the WGC-Bridgestone. His best finish came in 2011 when he finished T-2 after carding four rounds under par. His score of even par was good enough for a T-10 last year.
- Last event: Fowler carded three rounds over par (all 71s) at the Open Championship two weeks ago. A third-round 67 helped him finish inside the top-25 (T-22).
- World Golf Ranking: 8
- What to like: Stenson has eight top-10 finishes this season, including a runner-up finish at the last WGC event he finished (he had to withdraw from the WGC-Mexico). He has a strong record at Firestone as well.
- What NOT to like: Stenson has been far from a sure thing over the past several months. He’s missed the cut in five of his last 11 starts. He hasn’t missed that many cuts in a season since 2012.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Stenson has finished in the top-six in two of his last three starts at the WGC-Bridgestone, including a runner-up finish in 2013. He finished T-6 in 2015, the last time he teed it up at Firestone.
- Last event: After entering the weekend at two-over-par, Stenson fired a third-round 65 to leap into the top-10 at the British Open. An even-par round on Sunday kept him at three-under for the week, good for a tie for 11th
- World Golf Ranking: 3
- What to like: It has been a remarkable season for Matsuyama. Along with a win at the first WGC event of the season (WGC-HSBC Champions), he has finished in the top-14 of all three majors. Only one other player can make that claim (Koepka).
- What NOT to like: If Matsuyama has his putter going, he’s nearly impossible to beat. Unfortunately, that isn’t the norm. He ranks 180th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting and 139th in 3-putt Avoidance.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Matsuyama had his best finish at the WGC-Bridgestone in 2014, when he finished T-12. His last two starts there have not been as impressive, finishing T-37 in 2015 and T-42 last year. He does have a pair of rounds 66 or better in his career at Firestone.
- Last event: Matsuyama used a third-round 66 to get himself into contention at the Open Championship two weeks ago. Unfortunately, a 72 on Sunday dropped him out of the top-five and into a tie for 14th.
- World Golf Ranking: 6
- What to like: Rahm has limited experience in WGC events, but that hasn’t stopped him from excelling in them. The former Arizona St. All-American has finished in the top-three in both WGC events he’s played – two of his seven top-five finishes this season. He ranks in the top five in both the FedEx Cup Points and Race to Dubai Standings.
- What NOT to like: Rahm has shown that he’s human lately. He missed the cut in two of his last five starts, and finished T-44 at the British Open.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: This will be the first time Rahm has played the WGC-Bridgestone.
- Last event: Rahm never got much going at the British Open, finishing each round outside the top-25. After playing the weekend in even par, he ended up tied for 44th.
- World Golf Ranking: 19
- What to like: Berger has three top-five finishes – including his second career win – in his last five starts. He ranks in the top-14 in three Strokes Gained categories – Total (10th), Approach-the-Green (13th) and Putting (14th).
- What NOT to like: Berger’s play around the green has been the one weak spot in his game. He ranks 156th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Berger was able to hit just one shot last year before withdrawing due to a shoulder injury. It was his first start at the WGC-Bridgestone.
- Last event: Berger finished T-27 at the Open Championship two weeks ago, coming in at one-over-par. He fired bookend rounds of 68 and 67 to offset a second-round 76.
- World Golf Ranking: 5
- What to like: Garcia is a two-time winner for the first time in six years, and, once again, it’s come on the strength of his ball striking. He ranks second on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green this season.
- What NOT to like: Firestone CC doesn’t seem to fit Garcia’s eye too well. He had a runner-up finish there in 2014, but that’s his only top-20 in his last eight starts.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Garcia has two top-10s at the WGC-Bridgestone to his credit, and they came 15 years apart. After finishing T-7 in his debut in 1999, Garcia earned a solo second in 2014. That year, he held the second- and third-round lead, but a 71 on Sunday opened the door for Rory McIlroy. Despite that finish, Garcia has still averaged just 27th place in the limited field event over 15 starts. He finished T-37 last year.
- Last event: Garcia wasn’t much of a factor at the British Open, and his accuracy off the tee was a big reason why – he hit just 15 fairways all week, which was last in the field. He did manage rounds of 69 and 68 in the middle of the tournament, moving him into a tie for 37th.
- World Golf Ranking: 29
- What to like: Chappell has four top-eight finishes in his last 10 starts, including last week, and a T-3 finish in his only start at Firestone.
- What NOT to like: Chappell is not very good on the greens. He ranks 187th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Chappell finished T-3 last year, his debut at the WGC-Bridgestone. He played the weekend in four-under-par and was in the field’s top-12 in Driving Distance, Fairways Hit, Greens in Regulation and Total Putts.
- Last event: Chappell got off to a hot start, jumping out to the first-round lead at the RBC Canadian Open last week. He entered the final-round in second position, but managed only a 71 on Sunday to finish at 17-under-par and a tie for eighth.
- World Golf Ranking: 7
- What to like: Day was in great position to win this event last year before a rough back nine dropped him into a tie for third. It’s been a tough year for the former No. 1-ranked player in the world, but he still brings a major weapon to the event in the way of his short game. He leads the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green this season.
- What NOT to like: After missing just three cuts and finishing within the top 25 in 78 percent of his starts the previous two seasons, Day has four missed cuts and has finished in the top 25 just 43 percent of the time in 2016-17.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Day held the 36- and 54-hole leads last year, but fell apart on the back nine on Sunday and finished T-3. It was his second top-five finish in seven career starts for Day at the WGC-Bridgestone.
- Last event: Day fired a third-round 65 at the British Open – easily his best round in a major this season – to send him soaring up the leaderboard. Unfortunately for the Aussie, a final-round 71 dropped him out of the top 25 and into a tie for 27th.
- World Golf Ranking: 32
- What to like: Grace is fresh off the lowest single round in major golf history, carding the first-ever 62 at Royal Birkdale two weeks away. That was his only round under par for the week, but it was good enough to get him into a tie for sixth. It was his fifth top-six finish in a major for his career.
- What NOT to like: Grace’s British Open finish was his best finish since November. That T-3 result at the Nedbank Golf Challenge is his only top-five of the season.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Grace has improved his standing in each of the last three starts at the WGC-Bridgestone. He earned his first career top-10 last year after a final-round 68.
- Last event: Grace earned his highest finish of 2017 with a T-6 at the British Open, mostly on the strength his third-round 62 at Royal Birkdale. That round bears repeating, as it marked the first time in major history that anyone came in under 63. Grace collected eight birdies and no bogeys during his historic outing.
- World Golf Ranking: 31
- What to like: Hoffman is having an outstanding 2016-17. He collected his fifth top-five of the season at last week’s Canadian Open and he’s finished in the top-25 in all three majors. He sits 13th on the FedEx Cup Points Standings.
- What NOT to like: Hoffman hasn’t fared too well in the past in WGC events. He has yet to finish in the top 10 in his nine career starts.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Hoffman has just one top-25 in four starts at the WGC-Bridgestone, and that came in his debut in 2007. In his three starts there since, he hasn’t finished better than T-31.
- Last event: Hoffman finished runner-up to Jhonattan Vegas at the RBC Canadian Open last week. He carded four rounds of 68 or better to finish at 21-under-par and get into a playoff, but could not match Vegas’ birdie on the first extra hole.
- World Golf Ranking: 71
- What to like: Johnson has a strong record at Firestone CC – five top-11s in 13 career starts there – and is coming off two of his best performances of the season. He finished T-5 at the John Deere Classic and backed it up with a T-14 at the Open Championship.
- What NOT to like: 2016-17 has not been a strong season for Johnson. He has fallen over 50 spots in the World Golf Rankings since last year’s WGC-Bridgestone.
- At the WGC-Bridgestone: Johnson has four top-10s to his credit in his career at the WGC-Bridgestone. Last year he figured something out on the weekend after rounds of 72 and 74 to open the tournament. A final-round 65 brought him back to even par and a tie for 10th. He ranked second in the field in Total Putts last year.
- Last event: Johnson fired two rounds of 66 – one of which came on Friday in poor conditions – at the British Open two weeks ago. They helped make up for an opening-round 75, moving him up to a T-14 finish. He ranked in the top-20 in the field in both Total Putts (T-13) and Greens in Regulation (T-19).
Some others to consider: Paul Casey, Kevin Kisner, Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Thomas Pieters
Major winners in the field: Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson (2), Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy (4), Phil Mickelson (5), Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Rose, Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth (3), Henrik Stenson, Jimmy Walker, Bubba Watson (2), Danny Willett
Past champs in the field: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott