Favour Past Firestone Winners But Not Tiger

Justin Rose

Tiger Woods will be a well backed favourite when he attempts to win on Firestone Country Club’s South Course for the eighth time but that does not mean that he represents excellent value at tournament odds of around 6.00.

All the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational talk will be about Woods because he won the event in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 and boasts an extra four top-10 finishes as well. All up, Woods has played in the tournament 13 times for an average finish of 11th.

The average punter will be all over Woods like a cheap suit at 6.00 but the smart cookies will be looking elsewhere. It is no coincidence that the worst three of the 14-time major winner’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational performances have been his last three. Woods may love the Firestone Country Club’s South Course but there are several golfers who have as strong, if not stronger claims on this week’s event and are trading at significantly longer odds.

Firestone Country Club’s South Course is the longest par-70 track on the PGA Tour so it favours long hitters. However, hitting it long is only one part of the equation. History shows that World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational winners tend to be long hitters who have better than average accuracy off the tee. Therefore, the key statistic of the many that the PGA Tour number crunchers produce is total driving, which is a composite of distance and accuracy.

Justin Rose tops the PGA Tour total driving chart going into the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. Rose is the only golfer ranked in the top 30 for both distance and accuracy so he has to go on the short list. Do not be alarmed that Rose missed the Open Championship cut: even though he made his name in that event as an amateur in 1998, he has not posted a subsequent top-10 finish. Rose has good Firestone Country Club South Course numbers, including one second and two fifths, and he won the 2013 US Open in June.

Rose is available at odds of around 26.00 to win the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Coral and Betfred. One could back Rose to win the tournament or take the conservative option and back him to beat another golfer over 72 holes. Of the head-to-head markets featuring Rose that bookmakers are trading the one that stands out as the pick is the one against Brandt Snedeker that Betway is offering. One can support Rose at odds of around 1.91 versus Snedeker, with the American having to back up following his RBC Canadian Open success last week. Snedeker ranks 114th for total driving and he has not bettered 33rd place in his three World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational starts.

Other names for the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational short list apart from Rose include defending champion Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Adam Scott.

Bradley came from four strokes off the pace to win the 2012 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. Bradley’s game is made for Firestone Country Club’s South Course, with him being ranked fourth in total driving courtesy of his booming distance and more than reasonable accuracy. Bradley is a major winner so he knows what it takes to win the big events and his recent form is on the upgrade, including a 15th in the Open Championship. Bradley has a record of mounting strong title defences so he appeals at odds of around 41.00. In 72-hole betting, Bradley’s best match is against Charl Schwartzel at odds of around 1.91 with Boylesports. Schwartzel has not finished above 24th in his four World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational cracks, although his total driving statistics are okay.

Mahan won the 2010 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and he has another couple of top-10 finishes under his belt. Mahan was leading the RBC Canadian Open last week when his wife, Kandi, went into labour with their first child. So Mahan is in terrific form – on and off the course – and his total driving ranking of eighth is a positive as well. Mahan is available at odds of around 29.00 to win the event for the second time in four years. Unfortunately, none of the 72-hole betting featuring Mahan is punter friendly.

Scott took out the 2011 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and his last effort resulted in a third place at the Open Championship. Scott has had a week to refresh since going so close to a second major title this year and his total driving ranking of 13th, combined with his great record in significant tournaments, justifies his win odds of around 19.00. Coral has paired Scott with Snedeker and, at odds of around 1.80, he is a bet versus the American whose ordinary credentials one outlined earlier in this article.

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