Expert Picks Provided By: Jerod Kieler
Follow on Twitter: @Jkieler1010
This last World Golf Championship of the seasons will be held at Firestone Country Club, the home of the Bridgestone Invitational. Firestone CC has hosted this event every year except 2002 when it was held at Sahalee Country Club in Washington. This year’s field consists of 77 golfers, including 48 of the top-50 in the World Golf Rankings. Past winners such as Hunter Mahan, Adam Scott, and Keegan Bradley will make their way to Akron, Ohio in hopes of putting their name on this prestigious trophy for a second time. Unfortunately, last year’s champion, Rory McIlroy will not be able to defend his title as he is still out with a severe ankle injury. Rory won last year’s event by shooting 15 under par and defeating Sergio Garcia by two strokes.
On to my picks:
1) Jason Day (2): Day’s game seems to be in great shape after a case of vertigo nearly destroyed his season. Day battled a severe case during this year’s U.S. Open, but somehow still managed to share 9th. In his two starts since, Day finished one shot out of the playoff at the Open Championship and won the Canadian Open. In five career appearances at Firestone CC, Day has one top-5 finish.
2) Rickie Fowler (2): I am riding the hot hand here as Fowler has top-2 finishes in three of his past seven worldwide starts. After winning the PLAYERS Championship and Scottish Open, Fowler finished runner-up at last week’s Quicken Loans National. Fowler has two career top-10 finishes at Firestone CC, including a share of 2nd in 2011.
1) Louis Oosthuizen (6): I can only use Sweet Lou twice more, but I cannot ignore his track record in big events this year. Louis finished solo 6th at the Cadillac Championship, shared 5th at the Match Play, and finished runner-up at both the U.S. and British Opens. Oosthuizen’s best finish at the Bridgestone came in 2012 when he finished solo 4th.
2) Marc Leishman (3): Leishman has top-5 finishes in two of his past five starts, including three weeks ago at the Open Championship. Leishman made it into the playoff, but came up a few shots short of his first major championship. Last year at Firestone CC, Leishman finished solo 3rd behind Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.
1) Danny Willett (1): Willett has top-6 finishes in four of his past eight worldwide starts. After sharing 6th at the Open Championship, Willett went on to win the Omega European Masters. Willett also finished 3rd at the Match Play Championship and 6th at the Irish Open. This will be Danny’s first career start at Firestone CC.
2) Brendon Todd (0): The Toddfather might be off the radar for most, but his game has been trending in the right direction. In his last five starts, Todd has four top-20 finishes. After sharing 6th at the Greenbrier Classic, Todd tied for 12th at the Open Championship. In his only career trip to Firestone CC, Todd shared 45th last year.
Other Golfers Considered:
1) Adam Scott (Tier A): Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson would be two other guys I really like in Tier A. However, I am going with Scott here as he seems to have found his game with Stevie Williams back on his bag. After tying for 4th at the U.S. Open, Scott shared 10th at the Open Championship. The 2011 Bridgestone Champion has two additional top-10s at Firestone CC.
2) Brooks Koepka (Tier B): I was going to use Koepka for the last time, but I am saving him for later since Tier B lacks quality golfers and goes into the FedEx Cup playoffs. Koepka has top-25 finishes in each of his last five events, including two top-10s. Koepka will be making his first career appearance at Firestone CC.
3) Robert Streb (Tier C): Streb has finished inside the top-20 in six of his past seven starts. In that timeframe, Streb’s two best finishes came at the Wells Fargo Championship where he tied for 4th and at the Greenbrier Classic where he finished runner-up.