This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Golf series.
World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational
Firestone CC South Course (7,400 yards, par 70)
$1,800,000 and 550 FedEx Cup points to the winner
Setting the Stage
AKRON, OHIO – Firestone Country Club, site of the WGC-Bridgestone for many years, will soon end its tenure. The WGC-Bridgestone will move its tournament to TPC Southwind in Memphis starting in 2019. Firestone going forward will host the Bridgestone Senior Players tournament through 2022, a clear step down from the limelight of the PGA Tour. However gloomy, there remains one final shot for PGA Tour pros to swing along the fairways of a true gem. Tiger Woods returns this week to Firestone for the first time in four years after narrowly qualifying by squeaking into the World's Top 50 thanks to a T6 at the Open Championship. Tiger has fond memories of Firestone, collecting eight career victories at the storied venue, most recently in 2013 where he had a chance at a 59 but fell just short, eventually lapping the field by a whopping seven shots that week. The field is composed of just 73 with no cut this week, guaranteeing four rounds for every player and plenty of opportunity to climb back from a poor round. Expect some superb scoring from whomever claims the title, with the potential for plenty of separation: four of the past five champions have won by a margin of at least two strokes.
2017 – Hideki Matsuyama
2016 – Dustin Johnson
2015 – Shane Lowry
2014 – Rory McIlroy
2013 – Tiger Woods
2012 – Keegan Bradley
2011 – Adam Scott
2010 – Hunter Mahan
2009 – Tiger Woods
2008 – Vijay Singh
Key Stats to Victory
• Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
• GIR Percentage
• Par-4 Scoring Average
Play the par-4s well
As is always the case with par-70 layouts, par-4 scoring is key because there are two more than normal on the scorecard (usually 12). At Firestone, this importance is taken to new heights because only one of the two par-5s is reachable and the par-4s are quite long and difficult. Last year Hideki Matsuyama was 7-under-par on par-4 holes, while runner-up Zach Johnson was 5-under. Both players were top-30 in that stat on Tour in 2017 prior to their strong finishes at the WGC-Bridgestone. The same trend holds true looking at historical leaderboards, proving that successful navigation of the lengthy par-4 holes at Firestone is crucial to winning. Hitting it long and accurately off the tee is important because it sets players up for reasonable irons shots into greens and ultimately good birdie opportunities, but all aspects of a player's game will be tested this week.
Yahoo Value Picks
Best of the Best
Dustin Johnson, $47 – A rebound win at last week's Canadian Open after a major missed cut brought DJ to three wins this season, leaving little doubt as to who World No.1 should be. DJ leads the Tour in both par-4 scoring at Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, making him a match made in heaven for Firestone. While winning back-to-back weeks is tough, DJ is more than capable of pulling off the feat at a venue he's had plenty of success at in the past.
Francesco Molinari, $42 – Molinari is arguably the hottest player in the world with a major championship, a runner-up, and another PGA Tour win over his last three events. Molinari has been off the charts with his ball striking, and is putter is treating him well the last few weeks. He has yet to crack the top-10 in seven starts at Firestone but his red-hot form could easily net him that first one this week.
Tommy Fleetwood, $40 – Top-12s in his last two events make this youngster a great pick at Firestone this week. He's among the best drivers of the golf ball in the world and is capable of going very low if he gets in rhythm.
Tiger Woods, $25 – Woods has won this event eight times and recently was in the mix at the Open Championship. Somehow $25 seems like stealing candy from a baby, but if Yahoo finds this price appropriate then users find it a no-brainer addition to their lineups.
Zach Johnson, $21 – How is it possible that a future Hall-of-Famer with two major championships and a runner-up at this event last year is one dollar away from minimum salary? Johnson is a no-frills player who isn't the longest hitter out there, but he does just about everything well and Firestone rewards a well-rounded game.
Byeong Hun An, $20 – The field is deep, but An hung in there with DJ last week for a while before settling for a runner-up, so that shouldn't phase him. Two months earlier he pulled off a similar feat at the Memorial before finishing second. It seems like it's time for An to close the deal soon, and this course plays into his strengths of strong driving and iron play. You don't even need to agree with me to roster him at a minuscule $20, you just need to check his results to know he's capable of performing well this week.
Strategy Tips on Yahoo this week (based on $200 standard salary cap)
Though most of the field are studs within the World's top 50, the top 20 salaries in the field have a strong separation from the rest of the field. As such, it's critical to lock up at least three of these top 20 players and nitpick a few bargains to fill in your roster. The best players generally rise to the top over four guaranteed rounds and it will likely be an accomplished champion raising the trophy this week.