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Golf presents punters with opportunities to back contenders at long odds and Keegan Bradley fits the bill perfectly in the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
With three top-nine World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational finishes in five appearances, Rory McIlroy is entitled to favouritism coming off the back of his recent Open Championship victory. His form has improved since he parted company with Caroline Wozniacki and clearly he is golf’s number one player. But odds of 8.00 with several bookmakers, including Ladbrokes and Paddy Power about McIlroy winning such a deep event, particularly one featuring several course specialists, do not excite one.
Tiger Woods has the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational form in the book to be on the short list at odds of 17.00 with several bookmakers, including 888sport and Youwin. Woods is the defending champion after he took out last year’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational by seven strokes. The Firestone Country Club South Course is one that Woods loves to bits, with Tiger having eight tournaments on the layout since 1999. The problem with backing Woods is that he finished 69th in the Open Championship and he missed the cut before that. One would prefer to see Woods show something positive before investing one’s hard-earned cash on the fading superstar.
Bradley is the best World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational bet at odds of 26.00 with several bookmakers, including Bet365, Boylesports and Sky Bet. Why, even the man himself says that the Firestone Country Club South Course sets up beautifully for his low-scoring, long-driving game.
The Firestone Country Club South Course is a monster, which goes a long way to explaining why Woods has not one but twice won there three years in a row. Every recent World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational winner has hit the ball far off the tee and Bradley ticks that box with his 302.3-yard driving distance average ranking him 15th on the PGA Tour this term. Bradley is ranked 12th for total driving so it is clear that he knows how to handle the big stick.
Bradley has made three World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational appearances. In 2011, Bradley was one of four golfers tied for the lead at the end of the second round – Rickie Fowler, Ryan Moore and Adam Scott were the others level with him on eight under par – but he slid to fourth after 54 holes and 15th after 72 holes. Still, it was an excellent effort when one considers that only Woods has won the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational on debut. It is a tough tournament to win at the first attempt.
Undeterred, Bradley made ample amends in the 2012 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. Always ranked in the top 10 throughout the tournament, Bradley went from ninth to eighth to third to first, firing a fabulous final-round 64 to finish one shot ahead of Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker.
And along with Henrik Stenson, Bradley got the closest to Woods in last year’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, finishing seven strokes adrift of Tiger but two shots ahead of everyone except the Swedish golfer.
Bradley’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational scoring average of 67.75 per round is remarkable and he has played well in his each of his last two events, finishing fourth in the Greenbrier Classic and 19th in the Open Championship. It is worth noting that the Open Championship draw did not favour Bradley, who had to play in the most difficult conditions on Thursday and Friday. That Bradley posted back-to-back 69s on Saturday and Sunday is more relevant than the 144 strokes that took before then.
The World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational is an event in which the cream rises to the top and Bradley, who could do with a victory to qualify for the United States of America’s Ryder Cup team, is overpriced at odds at 26.00.