The third World Golf Championship of the season, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, gets underway tomorrow at the famed Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
The tournament marks the start of an incredibly busy period, with the PGA Championship taking place next week and the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup play-offs beginning at the end of August.
This week, the world’s top 10 will all be in action to contest a tournament that’s been won by Americans in seven of the last nine years.
Firestone Country Club is a definitive American-style golf layout and a horses-for-courses venue that traditionally favours longer hitters and those with ample course experience, something reflected in the list of past winners.
Keegan Bradley claimed his first WGC title last year, Adam Scott triumphed in 2011 and Tiger Woods won seven of the previous 12 Bridgestone Invitationals before that.
As such, Woods is the 4/1 favourite this week, but that price just isn’t going to tempt me into staking any money. Here are three players I’ll be backing at the WGC-Bridgestone:
Phil Mickelson, at 14/1 with Ladbrokes, is the most confident man in world golf at the moment. He won his first non-major European Tour event at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and followed that up with victory at the Open Championship. He’s says he’s playing as well as he ever has done and if anyone can transfer momentum from one tournament to another, it’s Mickelson. He hasn’t had a huge amount of success at Firestone in recent years, but he finished tied fourth in 2008 and notched four consecutive top tens, including a second place, between 1999 and 2002.
Charl Schwartzel, at 40/1 with Ladbrokes, is generously priced this week. The South African is swinging the club very nicely at the moment and seems to be in contention most weeks, regardless of where he’s playing. He’s finished inside the top 15 in three of his last PGA Tour starts, including the US Open and The Open, and although his WGC-Bridgestone form is modest, a top 25 in 2012 could signify an increasing familiarity with the Firestone.
Nicolas Colsaerts, at 80/1 with Ladbrokes, is an outsider this week, but I think Firestone could suit his game. His big hitting will be advantageous and he’s shown a proficiency in the past on long, firm and fast golf courses. There are also many parallels between Firestone and Medinah, where he made a scintillating Ryder Cup debut, so the course should suit his eye. The Belgian is third on the PGA Tour in Driving Distance and 19th in Greens in Regulation – both useful attributes at Firestone.
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational advised bets:
4pts each way on Phil Mickelson at 14/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Charl Schwartzel at 40/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Nicolas Colsaerts at 80/1 with Ladbrokes