WGC – Bridgestone Invitational 2018 Course Preview

WGC – Bridgestone Invitational 2018 Preview

Course: Firestone Country Club (South Course); redesigned by Robert Trent Jones in 1960

-Par 70, 7400 yards

-Fairways: Bent Grass with Poa overlay

-Rough: Rye Grass and Kentucky Bluegrass

-Greens: Bent Grass with Poa overlay

-Average green size about 7,600 sq. ft.; plays smaller with many false fronts

-Field: 73 players; NO CUT EVENT with all 50 of the Top 50 in the world playing

-Past Champions

2017: Hideki Matsuyama (-16)

2016: Dustin Johnson (-6)

2015: Shane Lowry (-11)

2014: Rory McIlroy (-15)

2013: Tiger Woods (-15)

RBC Canadian Open Recap

Well Dustin Johnson went ahead and reminded us why he’s the #1 player in the world and there was no doubt in my mind (and there shouldn’t have been any in anyone’s mind) that after his front nine on Saturday that he was winning that thing. When DJ gets hot like that I see him as Tiger of the early 2000s where everyone is just playing for 2nd place. DJ finishes at -23, 3 strokes ahead of Whee Kim and Byeong Hun An and comes into this week looking dominant despite his MC at The Open Championship. I think the most shocking part of the week was watching Brooks never get anything going, Bubba make bogey after bogey on Friday, Kuchar struggle to make a birdie on Friday and all 3 missed the cut. To the shock of no one, Sergio continued his struggled and also missed the cut. I will go into the good and bad in the DK Preview coming out soon but as much as I think Glen Abbey is a beautiful course and well-run tournament, I’m excited to see a new venue and hopefully not have the winning score north of -20. Onto the Tiger Woods Invitational.

Firestone CC (South)

Well we’re now officially entering the intense part of the year as we have the last WGC of the 2017-2018 season and the last no-cut event of the “regular” PGA TOUR season. Additionally, this will be the final year that the WGC Bridgestone is held at Firestone as it moves to Memphis in 2019. Firestone is a 7,400 yard, Par 70 course that is one of the longest played on tour all year. It presents a difficult test of greens that run 13+ on the stimp, green size that are deceivingly small, tight fairways that are lined by many trees, and greens that, when firm, are very tough to hold from the rough. The average fairway hit% here is around 49% compared to 61% on TOUR; the average greens hit here is about 58%, compared to about 65% on TOUR. Well, let’s get it out of the way early: Tiger has won here 8 times. EIGHT. He’s started the event 15 times, which gives us about a 53% win rate which has to be some sort of unbelievable record. In all his wins Tiger has demonstrated an unearthly T2G game which despite being important every week is paramount here as you have to hit it long, keep it out of the trees, and have dialed in irons. The Driving Distance here is about 297 yards on average, compared to 282 on TOUR; however, this added distance also comes with fairways that are about 6 yards narrower than the TOUR average. Let’s look at the scorecard:

Hole Par Length Rank Avg Strokes. BoB (2017) O/U Par
1 4 399 12 4.016 48 0.016
2 5 526 18 4.589 143 -0.411
3 4 442 9 4.059 56 0.059
4 4 471 2 4.227 34 0.227
5 3 200 15 2.934 62 -0.066
6 4 469 5 4.109 39 0.109
7 3 219 7 3.089 25 0.089
8 4 482 4 4.118 44 0.118
9 4 494 1 4.230 36 0.230
10 4 410 14 3.961 69 -0.039
11 4 418 15 3.934 58 -0.066
12 3 180 10 3.039 33 0.039
13 4 471 8 4.086 46 0.086
14 4 467 3 4.125 39 0.125
15 3 221 11 3.026 40 0.026
16 5 667 17 4.865 95 -0.135
17 4 400 13 3.997 46 -0.003
18 4 464 6 4.092 49 0.092
70 7400 70.496

As we see above, there are only 2 Par 5s this week and the signature #16 is a mammoth that is not reachable for really anyone in 2 shots. The course averages about ¾ or so of a stroke over par so despite birdies being important, and they certainly can be had, avoiding bogeys and saving par on holes such as 9, 4, and 14 will be key to success. Lastly, this will be included in the DK Preview as well but when looking at the scorecard you’ll notice that there are seven Par 4s over 450 yards, with all of them averaging an over par score. 25% of all BoB come on the Par 5s, holes 2 and 16, so escaping with par or finding birdies on the long Par 4s this week will set you well ahead of the field.

Key Stats

So, what’s it going to take to compete? Just like last week, driving accuracy and driving distance gained play a huge part in success this week (similarly you can look at “Total Driving” and SG: OTT) as the course is long and narrow with penalizing trees and bunkers. As mentioned above, narrowing in on the Par 4s from 450-500 yards will be key along with GIRs and SG: APP. From an approach standpoint, as I look at the potential landing zones, as well as the Par 3 distances, I think approaches from 125-175 yards and 200+ yards out will be a vast majority. Lastly, I am not one to normally include SG: P or many putting stats in my models as I think it’s too variant; however, this week I will be putting a little bit of emphasis on SG: P with importance specifically on “fast” greens (via fantasynational.com) and Bentgrass greens as the success year after year is deciding 1st by SG: T2G, and then by SG: P.

Stats I think I’ll be targeting include SG: Ball Striking (Player’s rank in both total driving AND GIR), SG: APP (emphasis on Prox. 125-175 and 200+), Par 5 Scoring, GIRs Gained, Bogey Avoidance, Par 4 Efficiency 450-500 yards, Driving Distance Gained, and Fairways Gained. Please note that there should always be some emphasis on SG: T2G but since that is used each and every week I don’t include it in stats that I’m “targeting.” I will go into more depth on my finalized stats, players who’s form I like, course history, and more in my DFS article in the next day or two.

That’s all for the course preview! Follow me on Twitter @sscherman and follow @AmateurHour_Pod too for picks, podcasts with FIRE guests, and weekly picks to win.

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