Par 70, 7,400 yards
Harvey Firestone commissioned the club 87 years ago in 1929 as a park for employees of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. Its first course, the South, was designed by Bert Way and opened on August 10, 1929, with Firestone driving the first ball. A major redesign by Robert Trent Jones in 1960 added over 50 bunkers, two ponds and brought the course up to 7,189 yards at par 70. The course was redesigned by Golforce in 1985 and played at 7,400 yards for the WGC event in 2013 which is what is measures today.
At 7,400 yards Firestone is a tricky test and has only two par 5’s, one of which is the 16th which is one of the longest par fives on the PGA Tour and will not be reachable in two for most of the field. It also has four par 3’s and 12 par 4’s. Seven of the 12 par 4’s measure over 460 yards so length along with accurate iron play will be an advantage here. Good long iron players will also be worth looking at here as four of the par 3’s measure over 200 yards.
The key stats here are GIR, driving distance, strokes gained putting, par 4 scoring, previous course experience and good current form.
Big hitting Brooks has been playing some superb golf this season and comes here in great form. He hasn’t finished worse that T13 in his last three events and looks like he could win any day now. He was unlucky not to win the Byron Nelson a couple of weeks and lost a playoff to Sergio Garcia after a wayward second shot on the first playoff hole. He then had a T2 at The St.Jude and didn’t shoot worse than a 70 over the four rounds. He followed that with a respectable T13 at Oakmont after shooting an impressive final round 68 to finish +4 for the tournament. He played well here last year finishing T6 and didn’t shoot worse than a 69 for the four rounds finishing -5 for the week.
Statswise he ranks 14th in driving distance, fifth in strokes gained off the tee and fourth in par 4 scoring. With great form so far this season and a good performance here last year Brooks looks in good shape to be a big contender here.
The South African has been in fine form so far this season and came close to a win in Oakmont a couple of weeks ago finishing T5 after shooting a final round 70. He had a great week at The RBC Heritage recently coming away with a great win and followed that with a T9 in Texas which included a 69 and a 67 over the weekend.
Grace has played well here in the past finishing T17 last year and T23 in 2014. He ranks 20th in SGTTG, 30th in GIR and seventh in par 4 scoring. Grace always seems to bring his A game to the bigger events and has to be respected here after grinding out a great performance in Oakmont.
It’s hard to know which Bubba will turn up at Firestone this week. He hasn’t been at his strongest form wise lately but I’m willing to wager that if he can bounce back anywhere, it could be here. On paper this course looks like it could suit the big hitting lefty and after a second place finish last year, he will be coming here feeling he can take this course on again. He hasn’t been at his best over the last four or five events but he has played well this season with a win at The Hero World Challenge earlier in the year, a T10 in Kapalua, T14 in Phoenix, a win in Riviera and a solo second at The WGC Cadillac.
Despite a T37 in 2014, Bubba hasn’t finished worse than T27 in five of his last six attempts here at Firestone. His form figures read 2,37,27,19,21,22 since 2010 so he knows his way around here. Watson also ticks a lot of boxes statswise here ranking ninth in driving distance, eighth in GIR and 11th in par 5 scoring. After coming close here last year, big hitting Bubba could be worth keeping an eye on here.
Reed has had a bit of a mixed bag over the last few weeks but all in all seems to be playing well. He finished solo second in Texas recently and followed that with a T28 at The Byron Nelson, T15 at Colonial, T8 in Memorial and a T39 last week in Congressional.
The young American has a decent WGC CV with a win at The WGC Cadillac in Doral in 2014, T15 here in Firestone last year and T4 in Firestone in 2014. He ranks first in strokes gained around the green, 19th in SGTTG, fifth in scrambling and 18th in par 5 scoring. Reed is a confident guy and could have another great week after playing well here in ’14 and ’15.
With a couple of top 10’s and a top 25 in his last four starts, Jason Dufner returns to Firestone where he has played some good golf in the past. He had a good week at The Byron Nelson finishing T24 and followed that with a T6 in Colonial, T33 at Memorial and an impressive T8 at The US Open in Oakmont.
In his last 16 competitive rounds Dufner has shot worse than a 70 three times (worst was a 73 in round 1 in Oakmont) so something seems to be clicking. In three appearances here Dufner has finished T66 in 2014, T4 in 2013 and solo seventh in 2012. He ranks seventh in GIR, 21st in SGTTG and 23rd in par 4 scoring.
Final Selections –
Brooks Koepka 1.5pts EW 20/1
Branden Grace 1.5pts EW 22/1
Bubba Watson 1pt EW 25/1
Patrick Reed 1pt EW 35/1
Jason Dufner 1pt EW 40/1
Total staked = 12 pts
Good luck and enjoy the golf,
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