Bridgestone Invitational betting preview
By LEE KOSTROSKI
Last week was definitely one to forget when it came to my recommendations for the Canadian Open. My three players last week - Steven Ames (+1600), Dean Wilson (+2800) and Bubba Watson (+4000) - all left Glen Abbey Golf Course in the red for the week.
No, not red numbers when it comes to scoring. We’re talking money won. In other words, all three took a net loss on the weekend making a combined zippo dollars. That’s right, none of them even made the cut.
The best thing to do after a showing like that is quickly put it behind you and move ahead to better days. Those days start this week at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
I do have one guaranteed “lock” this week. I guarantee none of my recommendations will miss the cut. I’m that confident.
I have no doubt whatsoever.
Of course, nobody gets cut this week as all 81 golfers play a full four days no matter how poorly they fair in the first two. Therefore, I will absolutely go from a week where none of my recommendations made the cut to a guarantee that all of them will. That’s a pretty solid built in bounce back. Now onto the tourney.
Firestone is one of the toughest courses on the PGA Tour and some high scores can be expected this week. Last year this 7,400 yard track was the fourth most difficult on tour trialing only three of the four major championship courses.
In 2007, everyone in the field but one finished at, or above, par. That one will not be around this weekend. Tiger Woods ran away with last year’s championship carding an 8-under par 272. It was the third consecutive year Woods won at Firestone and his sixth career win here. Thus, one thing we know for sure is, for the first time since 2004, someone other than Tiger Woods will win this tournament. So who will that someone be? Let’s take a look at some possibilities.
I always like looking at players who play well at certain venues. If they have consistently played well at a particular course, they already have a leg up on the mental game. Since I can’t side with Tiger, we’ll look at the next best option which just might be Jim Furyk at +1800.
Furyk has played extremely well at Firestone Country Club with five top 10 finishes. He finished second here in 2001 and third in 2006. He is playing well right now finishing in the top five in two of his last three events. My one fear here with Furyk is the potential fatigue factor. He played at the British two weeks ago finishing fifth and then opted to play at the Canadian Open last week finishing 14th. If his stamina holds up, he should be in contention at Firestone this week.
Stewart Cink (+1800) seems to be a popular choice among golf analysts and I have to agree. First of all, he is another player that has had very good success at Firestone. He has had eight starts on this course and finished in the top 10 three times. He won this tourney in 2004 and finished second in 2006.
Second, he is playing the best golf of his career in 2008. He has made the weekend in 14 of the 16 tournaments he has played. He has finished in the top 10 a whopping 50 percent of the time he’s made the cut this year (seven top 10s). He is 36th on the tour in driving distance which will help him on this longer course. He’s 9th in greens in regulation, 27th in putting, 6th in birdie average and 6th in scoring average. He’ll also be stewing after missing just his second cut of the year at the British two weeks ago.
Cink will make a serious run this weekend.
For my last recommendation I’ll side with Aussie Robert Allenby (+3300). As well as Stewart Cink is playing this season, Allenby has equaled him with seven top 10 finishes. He’s made 18 of 19 cuts this year and finished in the top 25 13 times. He’s finished in the top 10 in four of his last five events including a seventh place finish at the British Open. He’s also finished in the top nine three times here at Firestone in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Allenby is quietly having a fantastic year and this could be where he breaks through and grabs his first win in 2008.
Unlike the Canadian Open last week when just six of the top 25 golfers in the Fed Ex Cup participated, we’ve got a loaded field this week. In fact, only four of the top 25 in the Fed Ex standings won't be here this week. Because of that, it’s going to take a fantastic effort to come out on top this weekend at Firestone Country Club.
A fabulous course plus a loaded field equals some serious excitement this weekend. Why wouldn’t you tune in?
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