WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Five Firestone fancies
It's our final visit to Firestone so can we sign off with a win at the last ever WGC Bridgestone Invitational? The following five will be carrying our cash...
"This is a big event player, very well suited to championship venues and boasting a fine, consistent early record in majors. He certainly has the game for Firestone, as evidenced by sixth on his 2015 course debut. Koepka has developed and improved since then and this could be the ideal time to get on, following a couple of disappointing (yet entirely forgivable) results."
Paul Krishnamurty: Back Brooks Koepka @ 25/1
*EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 6 Places
Dave Tindall: Back Emiliano Grillo @ 125/1
There's been a decent smattering of long-shots filling the places in past editions of this event and one that could get in amongst it this time is Emiliano Grillo. The Argentine has finished tied eighth at the Honda, sixth in the Indian Open, tied third in Houston, tied ninth at Wells Fargo and solo third at Colonial so far in 2018. Adding in a top 20 at the Travelers on his last PGA Tour start and Grillo has racked up seven top 25s in his last 14 events, five of those top 10s. The driving force behind most of those good results has been strong iron play and that should help him go well here at Firestone. He's had two previous cracks at this event and showed plenty of promise when tied 14th on debut in 2016. Some useful form at nearby Memorial also strengthens his hand a little so the 125/1 looks a sporting play.
Paul Krishnamurty: Back Brooks Koepka @ 25/1
The Bridgestone is invariably won by an elite player and, among several that fit such a description, Koepka's odds may represent the best value. After winning the 2017 U.S. Open, I regarded Brooks as an almost inevitable and imminent world number one. A wrist injury curbed his rapid progress but, after retaining that major, he's back on track and my belief hasn't waned. This is a big event player, very well suited to championship venues and boasting a fine, consistent early record in majors. He certainly has the game for Firestone, as evidenced by sixth on his 2015 course debut. Koepka has developed and improved since then and this could be the ideal time to get on, following a couple of disappointing (yet entirely forgivable) results.
Steve Rawlings: Back Justin Rose @ 14/1
Justin Rose finished down the field at Firestone in both 2016 and 2017 but he was out of form on both occasions and both efforts can be ignored. Prior to that, from 2012 to 2015, he finished fifth, 17th, fourth and third and he also finished runner-up here in 2007, so it's a venue that really suits the world number three. Since sauntering to victory at the Fort Worth Invitational in May he's finished sixth at the Memorial Tournament, 10th at the US Open, ninth at the Irish Open and second in the Open Championship, having only just made the cut. Given his current form, his course form and most importantly, his renaissance with the putter, I'll be surprised if he doesn't contend here and he looks a very solid each-way bet with six places on offer at 14/1.
Joe Dyer: Back Zach Johnson @ 50/1
Zach Johnson hasn't dipped out of the top 20 in his last four tournaments, boasts similar consistency from his Firestone form and to my eye he is a fine 50/1 punt this week. The two-time Major winner was runner-up in this tournament last year, firing four rounds in the 60s, holding the third round lead and only missing out on the title thanks to an on-fire Hideki Matsuyama scorching Firestone with a final round 61. Zach was 10th the year before and can add another pair of top 10s to his Bridgestone record, proving this is a course that suits. We last saw my man at The Open where he held the lead after the second round only to fade across the weekend. He still ended the week under par, however, and in a tie for 17th to continue a run that brought 12th at the US Open, and a pair of top 20s at the Travelers Championship and John Deere Classic. A solid operator in all departments but particularly strong from fairway and around the greens, if Johnson brings his A-game he should go close again.
Mike Norman: Back Paul Casey @ 40/1
Paul Casey doesn't win as often as he perhaps should - then again, Rickie Fowler is a worse culprit on that score and take a look at his price in comparison! - but I feel the Englishman is worth backing this week in this limited, albeit world-class, field size. It's difficult to pinpoint what aspect of Casey's game is his strength, he just seems to play well whatever the tournament, whatever the course, and whatever the conditions. In other words his strength is probably his consistency. He's a winner in 2018 and from his 14 worldwide starts this year - all in high class fields - he's finished inside the top 10 on six (43%) occasions, and inside the top 20 a remarkable 11 (79%) times. Stretching back to July last year, Casey has recorded 21 (84%) top-20 finishes from his last 25 starts. And his form figures at Firestone couldn't be more progressive either; in his last five visits the 41-year-old has bettered his finishing position each time - 45th, 27th, 17th, 16th, 5th. If that trend continues we're guaranteed a pay-out this week.
2018 Season P/L to date: + £299.33
- The Open, Tiger Woods @ 30/1 - PLACE (Dave)
- Scottish Open, Ryan Fox @ 45/1 - PLACE (Mike)
- Irish Open, Russell Knox @ 28/1 - WIN (Dave)
- BMW International Open, Matt Wallace @ 33/1 - WIN (Steve)
- BMW International Open, Martin Kaymer @ 33/1 - PLACE (Joe)
- Italian Open, Lee Westwood @ 45/1 - PLACE (Dave)
- BMW PGA Championship, Kiradech Aphibarnrat @ 45/1 - PLACE (Dave)
- Belgian Knockout, Benjamin Hebert @ 50/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- Belgian Knockout, Jorge Campillo @ 28/1 - PLACE (Mike)
- Rocco Forte Open, Lucas Herbert @ 125/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- Golf Sixes, South Korea @ 16/1 - PLACE (Steve & Paul)
- Volvo China Open, Lucas Bjerregaard @ 200/1 - PLACE (Steve)
- US Masters, Bubba Watson @ 16/1 - PLACE (Mike)
- Hero Indian Open, Andrew Johnston @ 33/1 - PLACE (Dave)
- Oman Open, Jorge Campillo @ 40/1 - PLACE (Mike)
- Maybank Championship, Shubhankar Sharma @ 60/1 - WIN (Joe)
- Dubai Desert Classic, Alex Levy @ 50/1 - PLACE (Steve)
- Abu Dhabi Championship, Matthew Fitzpatrick @ 40/1 - PLACE (Steve)
- UBS Hong Kong Open, Paul Peterson @ 80/1 - PLACE (Paul)