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WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Picks and Preview

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Forty-nine of the top 50 players in the world are in Akron, Ohio this week for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Rounding out the by-invitation-only field at Firestone Country Club are an additional 23 top golfers, making the tournament one of the strongest non-major fields on the PGA Tour calendar.

Firestone’s South Course has been one of a handful of playground courses for Tiger Woods. The golfer, who most recently struggled with his putter en route to a T6 finish at the Open Championship, has won the Bridgestone Invitational a record seven times.

A 7,400-yard par-70 seems like a cruel joke. However, an abundance of elevated tee boxes and sloping fairways lead to some ludicrous driving distances at Firestone. The course averaged 0.69 strokes over par last year, making it the 16th most difficult track on the Tour. However, it’s worth remembering that a small, major-quality field tees it up at Firestone, which likely skews results in comparison with other tournaments.

With long holes, penal rough, tree-lined fairways, and undulating greens (which are equal parts small and fast), the South Course is a thorough examination. The winner will likely need to shoot an average of three to four under par each day to raise the signature Greek vase trophy.

Click here to see the inside-the-ropes photos we’ve snapped at Firestone.

Here’s a look at who could do that.

Tiger Woods: 9-2 odds*

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No surprise, here. If the consensus is that Tiger was undone at the Open Championship by a combination of conservative play and an inability to adapt to slower greens (and perhaps lack of preparation), Tiger fans shouldn’t be concerned heading into the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Woods, who knows this course as well as anyone, knows too that he needs to make birdies to win in Akron. Historically, he’s dominated the course and had great success on its fast greens.

Whatever is happening on the weekends at majors aside, Woods is still best player on Tour this season, and his career scoring average at Firestone is 68.3. Translation: If the World No. 1 plays to his average, he’ll win his eighth Invitational this week.

Adam Scott: 18-1 odds

Adam_Scott_Open_Championsip_2013Adam_Scott_Open_Championsip_2013

The Masters winner was dominant at Firestone in 2011, cruising to an impressive four-stroke victory. He notched his first top-10 at Muirfield since winning the green jacket, despite faltering on the back nine.

The Australian is driving the ball well this year, and he’s hitting nearly 69 percent of greens in regulation on approach shots with his Titleist 710 MBs. At a course he’s comfortable with, this likely means Scott will have enough looks at birdie to win this week. The question, as always with Scott, is will he be able to sweep in enough putts to contend?

Brandt Snedeker: 25-1 odds

Brandt-Snedeker-RBC-Canadian_r640

Last week’s winner, Brandt Snedeker seems to have recovered from the nagging rib injury that bothered him through much of the year. There’s no doubt that Snedeker (now ranked seventh in the Official World Golf Ranking) took a step forward with his Tour Championship victory last year and his hot start to 2013.

With a convincing win at the RBC Canadian Open on the heels of a T11 finish at the Open Championship, Snedeker appears to have returned to both form and health. Whether he can play well for a third week in a row (difficult, under any circumstances), remains to be seen. However, the streaky Vanderbilt grad seems to be peaking again as we head toward the season’s final major.

Matt Kuchar: 25-1 odds

Matt_Kuchar_RBC_Canadian_Open

Matt Kuchar finished tied for second at the RBC Canadian Open last week after a quality showing (T15) across the pond at the Open Championship the previous week. Although the Memorial Tournament winner isn’t likely to be well-rested heading into Akron, he’ll be returning to a course he played well last year: Kuchar fired a final-round 66 to finish tied for eighth at the South Course in 2012.

Phil Mickelson: 14-1 odds

Phil_Mickelson_WGC-Bridgestone

It’s tough to imagine Phil Mickelson winning this week. He’s due for a post-Open letdown, as he’s been parading across two continents with the claret jug for the past week, and despite his win in 1996 he hasn’t played Firestone well in the past.

All this being said, however, it seems more of the old “givens” with Mickelson are out the window, as he’s won in Europe (twice) and he’s won the Open Championship. He’s finished inside the top three four times in his last six starts. If his fine form continues, there’s no reason to think Phil can’t win this week, and his odds at major sportsbooks reflect this fact.

*odds according to Bovada.com

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Photos from the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open

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Ready your Las Vegas puns and prepare to let it ride — GolfWRX was live this week from Sin City for the Shriners Children’s Open from TPC Summerlin.

Our photos from Vegas this week outnumber the dreams of slot machine riches and jackpot glory from the U.S. gambling capital.

General galleries? We’ve got ’em. WITBs? How about 17 — including the great Spencer Levin?

In addition, we have photos of the new Titleist Pro V1, new Ping G430, prototype irons and shafts — plus, limited-edition Vegas-inspired putter covers.

Grab a seat at the slot machine of your choosing and pull that lever!

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Check out Scotty Cameron’s 2022 “Las Vegas” putter cover

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Las Vegas traditions include both losing your shirt at the craps table and limited-edition putter covers from Scotty Cameron at the Shriners Children’s Open.

Last year’s “Let’s Roll” cover featured an abundance of red dice against a green background. 

Prior to that, the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign served as inspiration.

This year, Cameron and Company went with a silver cover with a traditional Vegas showgirl, “777,” jackpot, a pair of cards totaling blackjack, and more.

Check out Scotty’s 2022 “Las Vegas” covers, below.

Check out more photos from the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open here.

 

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Photos from the 2022 Presidents Cup

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GolfWRX was live for the “United States vs. Everyone (except Europe)” showdown, otherwise known as the Presidents Cup.

Contested this year at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, from an equipment standpoint, the Presidents Cup offers the opportunity to get an up-close look at the wares of the best golfers in the world and always provides for some interesting custom equipment — like Justin Thomas’ wedge, below (and Max Homa’s in the featured image).

Check out all our galleries from the Presidents Cup, below.

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