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Sunday, July 27, 2014

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational - Preview

The World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational is set to return to Firestone CC. As history would have it, this has been one of Tiger Woods' personal playgrounds over the years, and he won on the South Course for the eighth time since 1999 last year.

For course history buffs, Firestone CC (South) is a 7400 yard par-70 layout that features just two par 5s, and only one is reachable in two by anyone not named Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson. The South Course has hosted this event without disruption since 2003, and here's how the winners and runners-up look.

  • 2003 - Winner: Darren Clarke (12-under 268) over Jonathan Kaye (272)
  • 2004 - Winner: Stewart Cink (269) over Rory Sabbatini and Tiger Woods (273)
  • 2005 - Winner: Tiger Woods (274) over Chris DiMarco (275)
  • 2006 - Winner: Tiger Woods (270) over Stewart Cink in a playoff
  • 2007 - Winner: Tiger Woods (272) over Justin Rose and Rory Sabbatini (280)
  • 2008 - Winner: Vijay Singh (270) over Stewart Appleby and Lee Westwood (271)
  • 2009 - Winner: Tiger Woods (268) over Robert Allenby and Padraig Harrington (272)
  • 2010 - Winner: Hunter Mahan (268) over Ryan Palmer (270)
  • 2011 - Winner: Adam Scott (263) over Luke Donald and Rickie Fowler (267)
  • 2012 - Winner: Keegan Bradley (267) over Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker (268)
  • 2013 - Winner: Tiger Woods (265) over Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson (272)
So what stands out?

Other than the Tiger Woods show, there are numerous ball-strikers populating this list. It's also interesting that so many players have been able to pull away for their wins. 

Breaking it down further, length is important but not paramount. Since one of the two par 5s is reachable by the entire field and the other isn't reachable, distance off the tee is somewhat marginalized. That said, Total Driving matters in that if a player isn't long, he better find fairways. If he is long, then he can miss a few more. If a player is long and accurate, then that's a real advantage. 

Perhaps more important than off-the-tee metrics is GIR. TW, Scottie, Bradley and Mahan can all light up the greens. The biggest reason for separation likely occurs when the guy that is peppering the greens gets hot with the flat stick, which we've seen. 

As always, current form and course history will play a major factor. Statistically, I plan on deep-diving Total Driving, GIR, SGP, Par 4 Scoring Average and perhaps one or two other categories. 

We will return tomorrow with the Power Ranking for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. On a related item, we will offer a Preview and Power Ranking in a combined post for the Barracuda Championship (formerly Reno-Tahoe Open) later in the week. 

Until then, happy research!

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