I HAD a rollercoaster ride last Sunday as two of my picks lost play-offs either side of the Atlantic.
For a spell I was looking at 650-1 double but Alexander Levy messed up on the second play-off hole to Jordan Smith in the European Open in Hamburg and Charley Hoffman was beaten by Jhonathan Vegas on the first play-off hole for the Canadian Open.
It was an exciting day and while both finished second they gave me a return for their money and decent each-way payouts.
This week the attention turns to the Robert Trent Jones-designed South Course at Firestone CC which is the venue for the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.
The 7400-yard course is long for a par 70, with a 667-yard par-five 16th, nicknamed The Monster by Arnold Palmer in 1960, the longest hole played in a non-Major. This week Driving Distance, GIR and Strokes Gained Putting could be important.
With three missed cuts in his last three outings you wouldn’t think Justin Thomas is a good selection. But in the US Open he was well up there but a 75 in the final round put paid to his chances and finished T9.
A close friend of Jordan Spieth, the 24-year-old from Kentucky is a class act with three wins before the end of January and has nine top 10s this season. He has a good record in Ohio and is playing in virtually his own backyard as he comes from just over the border in Kentucky. He looks like he’s playing good golf but then throws in the odd bad round so if he manages four good scores I expect him to be in contention this week. DD: 306.5 yards (12) GIR: 67.58% (40) SG: Putting: .387 (34)
Kevin Chappell is another who has missed a couple of cuts recently but played really good golf at the Canadian Open last week finishing T8. He won the Valero Texas Open in April and a T4 in the Fed Ex in June. After a 74 in the first round of the US Open he played three steady rounds to finish T23. In his first attempt at Firestone last year he finished T3 so the course hold no fears to the big hitter. If there is any fault to his game it's his putting but hopefully it all comes together this week. DD: 300.8 yards (29th) GIR: 66.41% (84th) SG:Putting: -.0490 (187th)
I was really upset I hadn’t backed Brooks Koepka for the US Open as I had been religiously tipping him for nearly two years in every Major. He had an up and down start to the season which started to come together at WGC Dell Matchplay and culminated in his win at Erin Hills. In his only real attempt at Firestone in 2015 (he withdrew last year due to an injury) Koepka finished sixth with four sub-70 rounds. His long hitting is solid and he showed at Birkdale his putting can match anyone. I think this course is a perfect fit for the Floridian and fancy him strongly. DD: 307.1 yards (10th) GIR: 64.78% (125th) SG:Putting: 0.444 (21st)
Someone who has shown great consistency at Firestone is Rickie Fowler who has three top 10s in his last three starts. I have been a long time admirer of the Californian and this year he has been nearly back to his best with seven top 10s including a win at the Honda Classic. It’s about time the 28-year-old got his hands on a Major and a win in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational could propel him on to bigger things next week. I will probably back him for the USPGA but that won't put me off him this week as well. DD: 299.2 (37th) GIR: 67.74% (37th) SG:Putting: 0.803 (3rd)
- 1.5pts ew Justin Thomas (BetVictor, 50-1)
- 1.5pts ew Kevin Chappell (Coral, 66-1)
- 1.5pts ew Brooks Koepka (Ladbrokes, 20-1)
- 1.5pts ew Rickie Fowler (Bet365, 18-1)