DraftKings PGA Lineup Advice: WGC Bridgestone Invitational
How’d you like to play against 70-ish of the best golfers in the world for a guaranteed payday the week before the final major of the year? Such is the proposition for the players in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, where the top 50 golfers in the OWGR and a handful of others get to grind away at Firestone Country Club in a no-cut tournament that sees the last-place finisher earn north of $50K.
It’s a tough proposition for a player: Teeing it up at a par-70 track that simply beats you up. Do you put yourself through the strain of grinding out the best possible score, or do you take it easy, try to stay sharp for the PGA Championship, and count your money?
Firestone, as mentioned, is tough. If you spray it off the tee, particularly without a lot of distance, you’re in for a miserable 18 holes of golf. If you bomb it and find the fairway, you can make birdies here (see: Woods, Tiger). If not, good luck!
Seven of the course’s par fours are longer than 460 yards, so your targets will need a bit of pop off the tee. Look for players who excel in par-4 scoring as well. And of course, there’s the fearsome 677-yard par-5 16th hole, which may be neither here nor there, but it’s long!
With no cut and so many big names in the field, you’re going to need to take some chances to take down a GPP.
If you want to go chalk…
Keep fading Dustin Johnson ($11,800). He just hasn’t been himself since his pre-Masters back injury. Ultimately, it’s not worth paying the second-highest salary for a player whose only top-10 finish since May came in the easiest event/weakest field he played (last week’s RBC Canadian Open).
Jordan Spieth: $12,000
Look, there’s not a lot not to like about Spieth on paper this week. However, as the highest-priced player, you have to believe he’s going to win to justify the cost. He’s won his last two tournaments. He’s been celebrating his British Open win (as he should). Do you really think, facing this field, Spieth is going to win his third tournament in a row?
Rory McIlroy: $11,400
The third most pricey golfer this week, Rory McIlroy arrives at Firestone with a new caddie on the bag. He’ll certainly face plenty of questions about buddy Harry Diamond looping for him and there will likely be growing pains as he transitions from working with J.P. Fitzgerald. A top-10 finish is a real possibility, but a win with a new caddie? Doubtful.
Birdies are the name of the game in GPP. Field leaders in birdie-or-better percentage with PGA Tour rank.
1. Justin Thomas: $8,200
2. Jordan Spieth: $12,000
3. Hideki Matsuyama: $10,200
4. Rickie Fowler: $10,600
5. Brooks Koepka: $11,100
6. Justin Rose: $9,900
7. Phil Mickelson: $7,900
8. Jon Rahm: $9,700
Rickie Fowler: $10,600
Obviously, Dick Fowler likes playing golf at Firestone. Rickie hasn’t finished worse that 10th the last three times he’s played the WGC Bridgestone. With five top 10s in his last seven starts, Fowler’s recent form is good. Ninth in strokes gained: approach, second in strokes gained: total, he’s a statistical standout as well. Hard to pass on him at this price.
Paul Casey: $9,000
Never a bad play, Casey arrives at a course where he has a respectable track record. He’s also finished inside the top 15 in three of his last four starts. Casey is 15th in total strokes gained.
Marc Leishman: $8,000
Leishman finished inside the top five at Firestone in 2014. He finished inside the top 10 at the Quicken Loans National and Open Championship in his most recent action. The Australian is 35th in strokes gained: off-the-tee and eighth in total strokes gained. A solid all-round choice who is in form.
Patrick Reed: $7,800
Reed bounced back from two missed cuts with a top-20 finish at the Porsche European Open. He has two top-15 finishes in three starts at Firestone. A streaky player, hope Reed gets hot in Akron this week.
Charley Hoffman: $7,400
Coming off a near-victory at the Canadian Open, Hoffman returns to a venue where he’s had middling form, finishing between 30th and 40th. However, with three top-five finishes in his last five starts, recent form is too good to ignore at just $7,400.
Bill Haas: $6,900
Bargain priced this week, Haas should be ready to go after a missed cut at the British Open. We’ll assume he’s taken the off week to get dialed in. Course history isn’t the best, but with top-25 finishes in three of his last five starts, his ceiling certainly should include a top 20 or top-25 showing. 26th in strokes gained: tee-to-green.