The big guns are back in action for the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone and we've identified five players who should be in the mix come Sunday.
The cream normally rises to the top of the leaderboard at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and it shouldn’t be any different this week.
Of the last 20 winners of this prestigious event, 19 are Major champions, with Hunter Mahan the odd one out in 2010, and it could pay to not look too far down the leaderboard when deciding on who to bet on.
Many will stop at Jordan Spieth, this week’s clear favourite in the absence of defending champion Rory McIlroy, who is making his first appearance since his fourth place in the Open Championship, which ended his hopes of a Grand Slam. However, he doesn’t represent great value at just 6/1 given he’s not particularly long off the tee – always an asset at Firestone South – and didn’t seem to take to the track when 49th on his debut last year.
He does of course help to make the market for the rest of the field and with excellent each-way terms of a quarter the odds and five places up for grabs in what is a limited field event, it’s time to get stuck into the following five players.
Justin Rose @ 16/1 bet365
It’s hard to imagine the Englishman not contending this week. He clearly likes the track, as results of second (2007), fifth (2012) and fourth last year show, and arrives here in good nick. His second place at the Masters in April was followed by victory in the Zurich Classic, a playoff loss at Memorial and sixth in the Open. Sunday’s fourth in Virginia showed he has not gone off the boil and he just needs a good week on the putting surfaces to get a deserved first win in this event. We’re getting 4/1 a place effectively, so dive in.
Hideki Matsuyama @ 25/1 bet365
The Japanese starlet doesn’t have a Major on his CV but I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t bag at least one in his career, which is continuing to blossom. The 23-year-old has been showing up well in recent Majors, with his fifth place at the Masters followed by top-20s in this year’s US Open and Open Championship, and he is now a regular sight on leaderboards, with seven top-fives since finishing 12th in last year’s Bridgestone. He’s not seen much action of late so Sunday’s ninth in a Japan Tour event – closed with a 64 – will have teed him up nicely for this.
Louis Oosthuizen each-way @ 25/1 Ladbrokes
The South African, the winner of the 2010 Open Championship, has finished second in his last two Majors and seemed remarkably upbeat after just losing out at St Andrews, focusing on the positives of his fine performance over the four days. He’s clearly in good form and, more importantly, back to full health after a career plagued by injury, and he looks set to contend this week on a train journey he finished fourth on in 2012 and tied-ninth in 2010 – ignore his 61st last year as he was badly out of sorts.
The other two to back at bigger prices are Patrick Reed, who finished fourth on his debut here last year, and Aussie Marc Leishman, who is coming off a fine second place at St Andrews and was third here 12 months ago, when shooting all four rounds in the 60s. At 45/1 and 55/1 respectively with Paddy Power, they represent real each-way value.