Par 70, 7,400 yards
Firestone Country Club was designed by Bert Way and was originally commissioned by Harvey Firestone for the employees of his tire company, Firestone Tire and Rubber and opened in August 1929. Firestone made a name for itself hosting a total of three PGA Championships in 1960, 1966 and 1975.
Robert Trent Jones oversaw a huge redesign for the 1960 PGA Championship adding over fifty bunkers, two ponds and extending the course to 7,165 yards. It was then renovated by Golforce in 2007 adding more yardage onto the course making it 7,400 for the 2015 WGC Bridgestone.
Firestone is a tough all round test of golf and only the very best players tend to contend here. It has only two par 5’s, one of which is the 16th which is the one of the longest par fives on the PGA Tour measuring just under 670 yards. It also has four par 3’s and 12 par 4’s. Seven of the 12 par 4’s measure over 460 yards and three of the four par 3’s will measure over 200 yards so good ball striking and accurate iron play will be essential into these testing bentgrass greens.
The key stats here are GIR, total driving, strokes gained putting (good bentgrass putters), par 4 scoring, previous course experience and good current form. This is one of the best courses in the world and the cream tends to rise to the top so bare that in mind.
Jordan Speith comes to Ohio this week rested and energised after the heroics of Royal Birkdale a couple of weeks ago. I won’t harp on about fantastic he played and the putts he made because let’s face it, if you watched it you know what I’m talking about. The young Texan has been in superb form lately with two wins, a second and a top 15 in his last five starts. He played well in Colonial finishing T2 at the Dean & Deluca Invitational, after shooting an impressive final round 65. He followed that with a T13 at Memorial followed by back to back wins, the first at the Travelers Championship and the second at the Open in Royal Birkdale.
Speith has played very well around Firestone in the past finishing 10th in 2015 and third last year. He ranks second in GIR, first in par 4 scoring and sixth in par 3 scoring which are three very good boxes ticked for this course. It looks like he has rediscovered that killer instinct with his putter and is extremely difficult to avoid this week even at skinny odds. Given his current form and favourable history here, Speith is without a doubt the man to beat.
The US Open Champion has been playing some superb golf this season and should be well rested coming to Firestone this week. Since finishing T11 in Augusta, Koepka has a win, three top 10’s and a top 20 under his belt. He had a great week at the Valero Texas Open finishing T2 after an impressive final round 65 and followed that with a T5 in New Orleans, which included a final round 62.
Brooks then teed it up in Sawgrass and finished a respectable T16 at the Players Championship. It was Erin Hills that seemed to suit his game the best where he shot four rounds of 70 or better to win by four strokes from Hideki Matsuyama and Brian Harman to win the US Open in Wisconsin.
He has played well here in Firestone in the past finishing T6 in 2015, which included four rounds of 69 or better. Statswise Koepka is averaging just over 307 off the tee ranking 10th in driving distance and 21st in strokes gained putting. After a good performance here in 2015 there’s no reason why he can’t contend again.
The Englishman is having a fantastic season and comes here in great form. Since finishing solo sixth in Augusta at The Masters, Casey’s form figures read 12,22,10, 26, 5, 11. He had a good week at the Wells Fargo finishing T12 and followed that with a T22 in Sawgrass at The Players, T10 at The Dean and Deluca and a respectable 26th at the US Open in Erin Hills.
Most recently Casey has been playing quite solid finishing T5 at the Travelers which included four rounds of 69 or better to post nine under in total. The Englishman had a super week at Royal Birkdale shooting three rounds in the 60’s to finish T11 at The Open Championship.
Casey has a great record here and seems to be a real horse for the course with two top 10’s and three top 20’s since 2005. He finished fourth in 2006, eighth in 2008, T17 in 2015 and T16 last year.
Berger has been playing great golf this season with a win and two top five finishes in his last six starts. He had a superb week at the FedEx St Jude Classic shooting a pair of 66’s to win by one stroke from Charl Schwartzel and Whee Kim. He followed that with a solo second at the Travelers where a moment of brilliance from Jordan Speith denied him victory after a tricky playoff. Berger bounced back well finishing T5 at TPC Deere Run at the John Deere Classic which included an impressive 63 in round three.
He teed it up here for the first time last year and had to controversially withdraw with an injured shoulder after hitting only one tee shot. Statswise he ranks 34th in GIR, 14th in strokes gained putting and 19th in par 4 scoring.
Since getting the monkey off his back in Scotland with an impressive victory at the Scottish Open, The Spaniard has maintained some great consistency over the last few weeks and looks to be striking the ball very well. He had a good week at the Players Championship shooting three rounds of 70 or better to finish T4. He then teed it up at the FedEx St Jude finishing T4 and followed that with a T4 in Royal Birkdale at The Open where he shot three rounds in the 60’s.
Rafa has played once here before finishing T29 in 2012 which included an opening round 66 and a second round 65. He ranks 27th in GIR on the European Tour and 45th in par 4 scoring on the PGA Tour. He has stood up to the plate in the big events and looks good value here to have a good week.
South African Charl Schwartzel is another player that arrives to Firestone in good shape with three top fives and one top 15 in his last seven starts. He had a great week in Augusta finishing solo third at the Masters, a course where he won on in 2011, and followed that with a T2 at the FedEx St Jude Classic, which included three rounds of 66 or better. He then travelled o Germany last week for the Porche European Open where he shot an opening round 67 and a closing round 69 to finish T12 for the tournament on eight under par in total.
He has a great record around Firestone with form figures of 24,21,4,31,7 since 2012. Schwartzel is a good horse for the course kind of player and tends to play well on bentgrass greens. At 55/1 and some good performances in big events this year, he looks good value to have a decent week.
Final selections –
Jordan Speith 8/1 1pt EW
Brooks Koepka 16/1 1pt EW
Paul Casey 30/1 0.5pts EW
Daniel Berger 40/1 0.5pts EW
Rafa Cabrera Bello 45/1 0.5pts EW
Charl Schwartzel 55/1 0.5pts EW
Total staked = 8pts
Good luck and enjoy the golf,
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