2015 WGC Bridgestone Invitational: Preview, Strategy, Picks
Just like it does any season, the 2015 WGC Bridgestone Invitational promises to feature a major-like field at one of the better PGA Tour events. It’s a WGC event, it’s a great tuneup for the players before the PGA Championship, it’s a great way to make a late push in the FedEx Cup Standings and players begin to make their late push for the Ryder or Presidents Cup.
While Rory McIlroy would be the defending champion, he is still recovering from his ankle injury. But even though the No. 1 player in the world won’t be teeing it up at Firestone Country Club, everyone else in the Top 50 will be participating with the exception of No. 22 Chris Kirk. And no, eight-time Bridgestone champion Tiger Woods will wait until Whistling Straits next week for his next tournament.
Lastly, and most importantly for DFS players, this is your final week of opportunities to earn those PGA 3.3M Millionaire Maker qualifier tickets!
Let’s dive in.
Breaking Down Firestone
Firestone is located in Akron, Ohio just South of Cleveland. It’s a par 70 playing at 7,400 yards, one of the longest par 70 courses on the PGA Tour.
It’s simple this week – we want players who are really striking the ball well as of late. There isn’t much else to look at. Here’s why:
There are only two par 5s, No. 2 at 526 yards and No. 11 at 667 yards. No. 2 is reachable by all players with No. 11 not reachable by anyone. There are no par 4s under 400 yards.
However, even though length doesn’t help with the eagles, it’ll certainly help overall on the golf course with 12 par 4s at over 400 yards and three of the par 3s over 200 yards.
Outside of that, Firestone is a track that is heavily tree-lined where accuracy will be very important to have birdie opportunities. The greens themselves aren’t too difficult or elevated, and there are minimal penalty strokes out there. This is why the winning score is typically around 15-under.
So, length and accuracy off the tee followed by ball striking in approaches to the hole will be key to rack up the birdie opportunities. This is why when you look at past leaderboards of the Bridgestone that you see a mix of players who are longer and shorter hitters. It’s typically the guys who are finding the fairway most frequently and knocking it close who are at the top of the leaderboard. I know that sound simple and borderline stupid, but there really isn’t anything else that indicates who typically does well at Firestone.
Yay, There’s No Cut! But What Does This Mean?
Sick of having five great picks and then one guy barely misses the cut to mess it all up? Well, this is your lucky week, because Bridgestone doesn’t have a cut. So, unless an injury pops up, your player signs an incorrect scorecard or gets DQ’d for throwing a club into the stands (just watched Happy Gilmore for the first time in years), you’re guaranteed all 72 holes.
Now, you might think the correct strategy would be to target all really aggressive players, right? The problem is Firestone isn’t a risk-reward course. Like I mentioned when describing the course, all the holes are heavily tree lined, all the par 4s are lengthy and the par 5s really don’t favor a longer hitter. It’s not even a risk-reward course in terms of pin positions. The greens aren’t that big and aren’t that complex. Yes, the longer you hit it, the shorter your approach will be and you can be more aggressive, but you’ll see a lot of pros hitting fairway woods off the tee this week with these tight holes.
From a daily fantasy perspective, if there’s a course you want to have an event at without a cut, Firestone is near the very bottom of the list. It’s the exact opposite of Kapalua where it’s all about length and aggressive play.
Here’s the other tricky part though – DraftKings knew with the usual salary structure, we would want to stack five of the best players and then one guy who is really cheap. Well, they wanted to make it tougher on us by making all players $7k or more with the same amount of money available for the same amount of roster spots.
Therefore, given that we don’t have to worry about a cut and we can’t use many of the high salary guys and there isn’t much strategy to use this week, I simply would advocate using six guys who are hitting it well as of late and typically play well on heavily tree-lined courses.
Odds Per Dollar
Our odds per dollar tab is updated. You’ll find a few guys who have decent odds per dollar, but you won’t find any significant advantages or people you should definitely fade because they have great odds that don’t line up.
There is an exception to this – Dustin Johnson. He has great odds at $10,800. However, despite Dustin being one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour and hitting it fairly accurately as of late, I’m fading Dustin this week. Not only is he someone who will be used a lot, Dustin historically does not play well on courses that are heavily tree lined where accuracy is so demanding. Remember, while Dustin has been finding the fairway a lot in his last few events, he’s been playing at courses where the fairways are wide and wind is more of a factor. This is why Dustin often plays much better on the West Coast or with links style golf (spoiler alert for the PGA Championship).
Again, I don’t like being recently biased, but in golf, it helps when it pertains to driving accuracy and ball striking as long as it’s applied appropriately. This means, do you have a big enough of a sample? Is the data somehow flawed in that a player has recently played courses that would help enhance that statistic? Has he been playing against weaker competition than the average player?
These are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself, because in golf, players are constantly working on their swings with their coaches and toying with things. Usually, when a player figures something out, he can go on a serious run. There is obviously variance in golf as there is with any other sport with a player getting hot, which is what we always what we want to take advantage of. But golf is different in certain categories, especially with the full swing. Why? You’re dealing with the variable of hitting a golf ball and so much of it comes off of feel as opposed to another sport where so much of your success is based off of the opponent, matchup, in-game situation, injury, etc.
All these picks are players who are striking it well as of late off the tee and with their approaches along with guys who are often strong on courses that are heavily tree-lined:
Justin Rose $10,600
Rickie Fowler $10,500
Henrik Stenson $9,900
Hideki Matsuyama $9,400
Jim Furyk $8,900
Matt Kuchar $8,700
Kevin Kisner $7,700
Ian Poulter $7,400
Kevin Na $7,400
Remember to check out the forum for more information!View all posts by Nick Juskewycz