One of the bigger events of the season is set to take place as the PGA tour is in Akron, Ohio to host the 2017 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. This tournament is played at a course called Firestone Country Club which is a Par 70 measured at approximately 7,400 yards. It’s fairly long for a Par 70 course which is why great ball strikers tend to have the most success here. The last three winners of this event have been Dustin Johnson, Shane Lowry, and Rory McIlroy. Given that this is a WGC Invitational, there is a smaller field of players and consequently no cut. This week, there are only 76 golfers participating. The key statistics for this event are Par 4 efficiency (450-500 yards), ball striking, SG:Off-the-Tee, and bogey avoidance. Now let’s get into some picks!
High Price Tier ($9,000 +)
Paul Casey DK $9,000 FD $7,600
Casey has always been such a great all-around golfer. Over the last year and a bit, he has been stepping up and forming into an elite source of talent. Casey has finished in the top 30 in each of his last 7 tournaments. Additionally, he has put up very good results in the stronger field major events. He finished 6th at the Masters, 26th at the U.S Open, and T11 at his most recent event, the Open Championship. In his career at the WGC-Bridgestone, Casey has participated three times in the past four years. His best finishes, T16 and T17, have come in the last two years respectively. As for his suitability for Firestone C.C, there are plenty of bright spots for Casey. He ranks 3rd in the PGA in ball striking. On the longer Par 4 holes (450-500 yards), which there are plenty of at this course, Casey fares better than tour average. His scoring average is 4.126 while tour average is 4.163. His long distance game is very good as he ranks 8th in SG:Approach and 60th in SG:Off-the-Tee. Lastly, Casey is the best in the field, and 3rd best in the entire PGA in avoiding bogeys. He makes bogey or worse in only 12.96% of his holes played this season. A top 15 finish is highly likely for a player of Casey’s caliber which is why he is arguably the best cash game option for this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Mid Tier Price ($7,000 – $9,000)
Gary Woodland DK $7,500 FD $5,900
Woodland, despite showing some slight struggles in past weeks, put up a great performance at the RBC Canadian Open finishing in 4th place, racking up 27 birdies and 1 eagle along the way. Even though his results aren’t great, Woodland has competed at a fairly high level at stronger field events as he has made the cut in both of the last major events, the British Open and U.S Open. Moreover, at this specific event, Woodland has decent results. He has participated in 2014 and 2015. He finished T19 in 2014 and 57th in the following year. Overall, good experience for a fairly difficult course and admirable finishes. Based of his statistics this season, it can be said that Woodland suits this course very well. He ranks in the top 30 in both SG:Off-the-tee (28th) and SG:Approach(13th). This can be better replicated by his ball striking ranking in which he is 10th best in the PGA. He ranks 59th in overall Par 4 scoring average and 28th in Par 4 (450-500 yards) with a scoring average of 4.091 in 143 attempts. Lastly, for bogey avoidance, although not great, Woodland is definitely not the worst as he ranks 77th in the PGA, making bogeys just over 16% of the time. Looking for the best golfers off the tee, Woodland is a great place to start at a reasonable price.
Low Price Tier: (< $7,000)
Matthew Fitzpatrick DK $7,000 FD $6,500
Fitzpatrick, a young stud on the European Tour, has handled the stronger field events fairly well this season. He has made the cut in all 3 of the major tournaments thus far and has also finished in the Top 50 in each of them. His price is low this week mainly because he has missed a couple of cuts as of late. Luckily for him, his last tournament was a T44 finish at the Open Championship and there is no cut to be worried about this week. This will be Fitzpatrick’s first time competing at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Being on the European Tour mainly, the PGA Tour does not have enough of a sample size to generate plausible statistics. In the less specific Euro Tour stats, despite being just under average in driving distance, Fitzpatrick ranks pretty well in both driving accuracy and GIR, so it can be said that his ball striking is sturdy enough heading into this week. He is a phenomenal putter and whether or not it is the main focus, great putting will always lead to great results. I love the way Fitzpatrick plays in strong field events, much more so than anyone else in the price range making him my favorite value play of the week.
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As our main PGA writer, Gabriel D’Antonio knows all the ins and outs of golf. As a team golfer for many years, Gabriel knows how to spot the best PGA players. And as a fantasy sports player, Gabriel knows the ins and outs of winning! Check out his articles when it comes time for the pros to hit the links.