Last week, Dustin Johnson showed us his missed cut at The Open was just a small speed bump, with him winning The RBC Canadian Open at -23, which was his third win of the season. Now, Johnson and the rest of the top 50 players in the world head to Akron, Ohio, for the 2018 WGC Bridgestone Invitational. This WGC event takes place at the South course of Firestone Country Club, which is a 7,400 yard long par 70. Being an invitational, this is a smaller field of only 73 players, with no cut. Hideki Matsuyama ran away with the big check a year ago, finishing at -16, edging out Zach Johnson by five strokes. He had an excellent week with his irons, leading the field in GIR, and this has been the main trend for success at Firestone, with all of the last five winners ranking T5 or better in greens found.
Next, is par four scoring. It’s been a few weeks since we have tackled a par 70, but just as a reminder, this means there is only two par fives, but 12 par fours, with seven of them ranging between 450-500 yards at the South course. Over the last five years, three of the five champions have led this field in par four scoring, with all five of them ranking at least T6 in the stat. Also, this is a rather long par 70. Not only are those lengthy par fours a challenge, but the par five 16th hole is a massive 667 yards long. So, as you would have expected, bombers will have an advantage. This has shown in the most recent seasons, with the average drive of the last five winners being 329 yards. Finally, as you always should in DFS golf, targeting strong birdie makers is a necessity, but I also think bogey avoidance is worth a look, as the South course is designed to be a difficult test. @Hunta512.
Justin Thomas: (8,800)
This is the first time Thomas has been priced under $9,000 since his win at The PGA Championship last August. The #3 ranked player in the world missed the cut in his last start, but this came at The Open Championship, which is an event he has never played well at. (1/3) Prior to this, he had made 21 consecutive cuts, including ten top tens, and a remarkable four wins. He stands out in almost every stat I am looking for at The Bridgestone, ranking 5th in SGT2G, 22nd in SG APP, 8th in SG OTT, 11th in DD, 10th in ball striking, 14th in BOB%, and a notable 2nd in SG on 450-500 yard long par fours. (via Fantasy National)
He was frustrated at Carnoustie and I am sure he has taken these past two weeks to fine tune his game for this important WGC event. The last two years he has finished T33rd and T28th, but this season I am expecting at least a top 15 from JT. He isn’t someone I usually target, but with no cut and this dramatic of a price cut, Thomas is a value that needs to be take advantage of.
Tony Finau: (8,000)
For the third straight week, Finau will be one of my core plays. Yes, his final round at The RBC Canadian Open wasn’t his best (73, finished T37th), but either way, Finau is just underpriced for the caliber of player he is this season. He has made ten of his last 11 cuts and is 19 for 22 with seven top tens this season, while also being the 8th best DraftKings scorer. Since the start of June, he ranks 6th in SGT2G, 23rd in SG APP, 3rd in GIR, 7th in SG OTT, 2nd in DD, 7th in ball striking, 7th in BOB%, 14th in bogey avoidance, and 7th in SG on par fours. Furthermore, when it comes to his play on par fours during this stretch, he ranks 17th in SG on par fours that fall between 450-500 yards. (via Fantasy National) As I have preached the last few weeks, Finau is playing the best golf of his life, resulting in his highest ever world ranking, at #28. This has gained him an invite to Firestone for the first time in his career. The lack of course history isn’t optimal, but his game is just too perfect for this track.
He has distance, sticks greens at a high rate, has the ability to shoot low numbers on any course, and is avoiding bogeys very well. He also has had no issues with new courses and stacked fields this year, with a T5 at Shinnecock Hills in The U.S. Open and then a T9 at Carnoustie in The Open Championship just two weeks ago. I am expecting Finau to forget about that final round in Canada and post a top 20 finish at Firestone this weekend.
Xander Schauffele: (7,900)
With no cut in effect, Schauffele is a great play this week at $7,900. He has made three of his last four cuts and has T13 at this course in his only attempt. Two of those made cuts were excellent major performances, with a T6 at The U.S. Open and then a T2 at The Open Championship, which was his best major finish to date. He has the distance to handle Firestone, ranking 12th in DD in his last 12 rounds, is a very strong par four player, ranking 9th in SG on par fours, and is an elite DraftKings golfer, ranking 6th in DK points during this time. (via Fantasy National)
A year ago, on this course, he ranked T12 in GIR and shot under par in the final three rounds. His finish at The Open pushed him up to 18th in the world rankings and his 45/1 odds to win are the best in the field of all the players priced at $8,000 and under. With four rounds guaranteed, Schauffele should outperform this modest price tag.
Dustin Johnson: (11,700)
Yet again, he is the highest priced player in the field, but is underpriced for his Vegas odds to win. DJ is currently listed at 7/1, with the next best odds being 12/1. He won this tournament two years ago and outside of his MC at The Open, he has finished no worse than T17th in 15 starts. His stat rankings are absolutely insane when comparing all of these golfers last 24 rounds golf. Over this time, he ranks 1st in SGT2G, 3rd in SG APP, 3rd in GIR, 1st in SG OTT, 2nd in DD, 1st in ball striking, 2nd in SG on par fours, 1st in SG on par fours between 450-500 yards, 1st in BOB%, 5th in bogey avoidance, and 1st in DK points. (via Fantasy National) He should definitely cost over $12,000 right now and even though he may be difficult to fit in cash games, Johnson must be owned in GPPs.
Tiger Woods: (10,800)
If there was ever a week to roster Tiger, this is it. Not only is he in his best form in years, fresh off back to back top tens (T4 at Quicken Loans and T6 at The Open), Woods has dominated the South course his whole career. This is going to be his 15th time playing in Akron and in his first 14 tries, Woods has 11 top tens and a godly seven wins. He knows this course like the back of his hand and outside of the majors, Woods has definitely had his return to Firestone marked on his calendar all year long. As I said above, he is currently playing his best golf in a very long time and in his last two starts, he has gained over ten strokes total in each event. In his last 12 rounds, he ranks 5th in SGT2G, 2nd in SG APP, 16th in DD, 5th in ball striking, 5th in BOB%, 6th in bogeys avoided, and 12th in SG on par fours. (via Fantasy National) He is tied for the second best odds to win, at 12/1, and even though the price tag is correct, Woods is a player worth building around this week.
Henrik Stenson: (9,000)
After all the concerns about his “elbow” injury, Stenson posted a T35 at The Open and he has now made 20 of his last 21 cuts, which includes 15 top 25s. He has gained strokes in eight straight starts and is averaging 7.0 strokes gained in his last five. In his last 12 rounds, he ranks 12th SGT2G, 11th in SG APP, 2nd in GIR, 12th in SG OTT, 9th in ball striking, 15th in bogeys avoided, and 7th in SG on par fours between 450-500 yards. (via Fantasy National) His choice to mostly use three wood off the tee keeps his average drive under 300 yards, but he has been just fine at Firestone over the years, regardless of this decision. In his last four Bridgestone Invitationals, he has finished T2, T19, T6, and T17. Another top 20 seems very likley from Stenson in this form.
Paul Casey: (8,600)
Casey didn’t play at The RBC Canadian Open, but he played overseas, finishing T7 at The Porsche European Open. Including this Euro start, he has made 34 of his last 35 cuts, with an exceptional 25 top 20s in that run. He is averaging 6.9 strokes gained in his last 20 tournaments and ranks 17th in SGT2G, 15th in SG APP, 27th in GIR, 17th in DD, 8th in SGP, 23rd in ball striking, 20th in BOB%, 20th in bogey avoidance, 15th in SG on par fours, and 4th in SG on 450-500 yard par fours in his last 24 rounds. (via Fantasy National) In his last three starts at Firestone, he has gone 17th, T16th, and T5th. For a balanced cash game roster, Casey is a must have value.
Charley Hoffman: (7,500)
Hoffman has made five straight cuts and before his decent T29 last week at The RBC Canadian Open, he had four top 20s in a row. His worst finish at this WGC stop is a T37 and last season he had his best showing, with a T3. The veteran ranks 5th in GIR and 8th in SG on par fours in his last 12 rounds and has gained 6.5 strokes in his last four starts. (via Fantasy National) He may not seem like a bomber, but he has averaged a long 330 yard driver at this venue the last three years. In this current form, Hoffman is a safe value at only $7,500.