This weeks event at Firestone at Akron in Ohio is one of my favourite tournaments of the year. It has a stellar line up and the course is set up for only the best to prosper. The course measures 7400 yards and plays to a stern Par 70 with only two par 5’s on the card. The course is tree-lined and has some really good bunkering which will really test the players sand play to the limits. Players need to be excellent drivers of the golf ball and not only to find fairways systematically but also the correct part of the fairway to have the best line to the green. The course could be playing fast and loose this week, so although the course is long, it may not be the usual long hitters that win this week.
From a punting angle we are trying to play up our winnings from last week’s winning tip on Brandt Snedeker and I favour a player who came second last year, and though supposedly semi retired is still playing excellent golf. That player is Steve Sticker, and at a tasty price is well worth considering. He should find fairways for fun, and if he can produce enough good approach shots he can do some real damage with that silky smooth putting stroke. He also has the advantage of been well rested as he didn’t play the Open and normally goes well fresh.
It’s very hard to discount past winner Adam Scott from a betting perspective as he has all the requirements to win. One of the best drivers in the game, he flopped here last year, though that was probably due to his Open heartbreak at capitulating to allow Ernie Els to win. He was in the heat of the battle again this year, but as Mickelson won on merit and having won a major already, I don’t think it will have done him any harm. It will be no disadvantage either to have Tiger Woods ex caddie on the bag, Steve Williams has ‘won’ this event multiple times with Tiger, and knows the course inside out. Caddies don’t get the kudos they deserve, and he will be a major contributing factor to any Scott win.
Other players to consider are of course Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson. Tiger has a great record here and at 5/1 will have his many supporters, but I’m still not sure about his game when he has to play the driver. He still looks as if he may have some destructive shots and thats enough to put me off. Johnson looks back to his best, and while he chucked away a winning chance last week I think he is not far away from winning again. He should contend this week.
Steve Stricker EW 35/1 Stan James 5 Places
Adam Scott EW 16/1 Stan James 5 Places