This week, the players who rank in the Top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings following both July 23rd and July 30th will tee it up for the WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club’s South Course. This course, redesigned in 1959 by Robert Trent Jones Sr., is widely known as “The Monster” due to the many long daunting par 4’s and the par 5, 16th which plays at a whopping 667 yards. With strategic bunkering, dense rough, and tree-lined fairways, Firestone will not be unconquerable, however, it will be exceptionally challenging. Last year’s champion, Hideki Matsuyama will look to defend his seven-shot victory, but with the best players in the world looking for a signature win, going back to back will be a tough mission to accomplish.

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For “The Monster,” we will focus in on certain players’ tendencies and statistics that we believe will provide the best chance at emerging triumphant at Firestone. Some of these key stats include, but are not limited to: Par 4 Efficiency: 450-500 yards, Approaches from 175-200 yards, Proximity from 200+ Yards and Scrambling. The reason we chose these metrics mainly revolve around Firestone CC playing 7,400 yards with only two par 5’s. Due to the length of the course, there will be a heavy premium on ball striking, with players hitting mid to long irons into the greens on many par 4’s. The tournament’s unique “no cut” format will be beneficial for those players who get off to a slow start and will have plenty of time to bounce back. For many of these reasons, we have selected players from each salary tier that you should consider when making your DraftKings lineup.

Top Tier ($11,700 – $9,500)

Dustin Johnson ($11,700) – Coming off a strong performance and a three-stroke victory at the RBC Canadian Open last week, Dustin Johnson is undoubtedly the favorite. With his power off the tee and much-improved wedge play, Johnson will be a tough player to beat. As the current world number 1, Johnson’s statistics speak for themselves. He ranks 1st in Top 10 finishes, 1st in Overall Scoring Average, and 1st in Par 4 Scoring Average just to name a few. Look for Dustin to get back to back wins heading into the final stretch of the season.

Tiger Woods ($10,800) – With a T-6 finish at Carnoustie, Tiger Woods moved up 21 spots in the OWGR to exactly #50, earning an invitation to this year’s Bridgestone Invitational. His track record in this tournament along with his recent form provides enough reason to give him a shot. Tiger has played in this tournament 16 times, 8 of which have resulted in victories. Tiger absolutely loves this venue, and it would be more than fitting for him to take home the trophy with it being Firestone’s last time hosting this tournament.

Middle Tier ($9,500 – $8,000)

Francesco Molinari ($9,400) – Francesco Molinari is unquestionably on fire, and is carrying a scary amount of confidence. He showed no signs of backing down while playing with one of the world’s greatest golfers of all time on Sunday at Carnoustie, and we believe that will translate over to this week. In his last six tournaments, Molinari has won three times and finished runner-up twice. He ranks 3rd in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, 4th in SG: Off the Tee, and 2nd in SG: Tee to Green. If Molinari can continue these recent trends, he could very well end up playing in the last group on Sunday.

Justin Thomas ($8,800) – Although Justin Thomas is coming off of a missed cut at the Open; it would be way too hard to pass him up considering how undervalued he is. Currently, the world’s #3, Thomas excels in all of the areas that we are targeting at this venue. He ranks 5th in SG: Approach, 6th in Par 4 Scoring, and 2nd in Proximity from 200+ Yards. All of those stats indicate that Thomas should have a real chance come Sunday and very well could find himself in the winner’s circle for the 3rd time this season.

Zach Johnson ($8,100) – One player who we like to have a strong showing this week is Zach Johnson. Although he has not won a tournament in nearly three years, he has been incredibly consistent in 2018, with four top 20’s in his last four tournaments. In addition, Zach Johnson ranks in the top 25 in many of the categories that will be important this week such as Proximity from 200+ Yards, SG: Around the green, Scoring Average, and Driving Accuracy. Not to mention, Zach finished runner-up at Firestone a year ago and has 4 Top 10’s in his last seven starts in this event.

Low Tier/Sleepers ($8,000 – $6,500)

Xander Schauffele ($7,900) – Coming off a 2nd place finish at The Open Championship, Xander Schauffele has been sneakily playing some excellent golf this season. He had a real chance to win the Open Championship on Sunday, and that alone should carry some momentum into this week. Having made 16/20 cuts and recording five top 10’s, he is a low tier player to consider at the Bridgestone Invitational where he put up a 13th place finish last year.

Charlie Hoffman ($7,500) – Although Charlie Hoffman has only one Top 10 finish this season, we believe that he is due for a breakthrough at any moment. Hoffman has four top 20’s in his last five starts and seems to like the layout of Firestone, placing 3rd at last year’s event. If he can string together four solid rounds, don’t be surprised if he ends up in striking distance on Sunday.

The Open Championship Results

The tendencies and statistics that we relied on when making our selections for The Open Championship proved to be extremely successful. The highlights of our predictions can be found below:

Francesco Molinari- 1st, Justin Rose- T-2, Tony Finau- T-9, Alex Noren- T-17, Rickie Fowler- T-28.