Bridgestone Invitational Tips

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Paul Williams' Tips for the 2012 Bridgestone Invitational. Follow us on twitter @Golfbetting. Facebook: GBS Page | GBS Group

With just a week to go before the final Major of the year we take our annual trip to Akron, Ohio for the 3rd WGC event of the season at the fabulous Trent Jones-designed South Course at Firestone. The tough 7,400 yard par 70 - which is regularly in the top 1/3 of course difficulty stats - features tight, tree-lined fairways leading to small bent/poa greens that will measure around 13 on the stimp; 6 of the par 4s are over 450 yards and the brutal 677 yard par 5 16th is a match for even the longest of hitters - all in all a course and event worthy of its WGC status and as always there's a truly stellar field on display here.

This is always a cracking event and you could justifiably make a case for most of the players at the top of the betting. Last year's champion Adam Scott broke a trend of winners having a link to Florida and nearby Southern States, but seeing as this event has been dominated by Tiger Woods over the last decade or so that was potentially a red herring. There are some rock solid trends from recent years to consider however:

1.    Other than Tiger Woods, nobody has won this event at their first attempt...let's assume that will continue in 2012.

2.    At 7,400 yards you will need to have at the very least moderate (290+ average) length off the tee to compete around here in my opinion.

3.    Mahan in 2010 and Scott in 2011 were both in supreme form off the tee and both finished their respective season towards the very top of the total driving category on the PGA Tour. For non-PGA Tour players that's a combination of driving accuracy and driving length - not surprisingly this is a critical factor at Firestone given its setup.

4.    Every winner since 2000 has either a win or at least 1 top-5 finish on their respective Tour in the season to date.

Hunter Mahan was in the least impressive current form (if you can call a victory at Phoenix and 8th at the Masters unimpressive!) of recent champions, however generally the winner has been in recent contending form or shown strong signs of progressively approaching top gear. With calm and clear conditions expected throughout the week I'm expecting Firestone to play increasingly hard and fast as the week progresses with just the outside chance of a soaking from a passing storm later in the event. Putting it all together, my selections are as follows:

Tiger Woods 4pts win 5/1 with stan james bonus code Get a £10 free bet via this link: stan james promotion

The golfing rehabilitation of Tiger Woods is almost complete. Within a fortnight he could regain his World Number 1 status and leapfrog Luke Donald back to golf's summit if he's successful here and finishes sufficiently ahead of the Englishman at Kiawah Island. 3 wins in 2012 have pushed him into this lofty position once again and, in doing so, he leads the season-long FedEx Cup which puts him (at this stage) in pole position for a $10m payday if he's still at the head of affairs after The Tour Championship at East Lake in 8 weeks time, a week before he'll play a starring role in the US Ryder Cup team at Medinah. Will he be the truly dominant force he was once again? I suspect not. But is he good enough for more WGCs, Majors and lengthy spells as World number 1? I suspect so!

As you will appreciate, there are many, many supremely talented golfers at the top of World golf. What sets the winners apart from the also-rans is their mindset and confidence. Tiger Woods is no exception and it's no surprise to me that Tiger's 2012 wins have come on courses where he can draw on previous successes to spur him on to victory. Nearly half of Woods' PGA Tour victories have come at six courses: Bay Hill, Torrey Pines, Firestone, Cog Hill, Muirfield and Augusta National. This season he's already won at Bay Hill and Muirfield and with Firestone being his most prolific venue -  7 victories from 13 competitive visits - there are positive memories in abundance for him to draw upon. Quite simply he knows how to win around these parts and in my opinion is really quite likely to do so again this week.

Tiger played a tactical game at Lytham & St Annes that was ultimately unsuccessful as he refused to take the driver out of the bag when the situation truly dictated a change of gear, however that conservative approach still produce his best result at a Major since 2009 and his best finish at the Open since his last victory in 2006. Royal Lytham was ultimately too risky for Tiger to confidently pull the big stick out of the bag when push came to shove, however a return to his beloved Firestone will give him the confidence to play his own game and, I suspect, ultimately succeed. RESULT: T8

Adam Scott 1.5pts EW 18/1 with paddypower promo code NEW GBS OFFER! £/€250 In free bets, get it here: paddypower bonus code

The heartbreak of surrendering a winning position at the Open will have hurt the Australian, however how he reacts over the coming tournaments is critical to his career and I'm expecting a strong performance here. Steve Williams will have been an important part of Scott's post-Open recovery and, whilst Tiger's former caddy will have been almost as disappointed as Scott himself at his late bogeys at Lytham, his experience and support will be a big part of how Scott performs here - plus don't forget that Williams was on the bag for Tiger's 7 victories around Firestone.

Fact is, Scott played some sublime golf for 68 holes in Lancashire and from tee-to-green he was impeccable - much is made of his use of the long putter, however it was his tee-to-green game that got him into a winning position at Lytham and it's precisely how and why he's the defending champion here this week in Akron. Averaging over 300 yard off the tee and 22nd on Tour for Total Driving for 2012, Scott has the game to contend here and progressive form of 15th (US Open), 3rd (Congressional) and 2nd (Lytham) suggests to me that the Sunday Woods/Scott showdown that was craved for at Lytham could well materialise at Firestone this week. RESULT: T45

Bubba Watson 1pt EW 35/1 with 888sport promotional code NEW OFFER! Get up to £88 in free bets via this link: 888 Sport free bet

Whilst there are many top Europeans in attendance who have the talent to make an appearance over the weekend, you have to go back nearly 10 years to find a European winner of this event in the shape of Darren Clarke and I suspect that the US-based players will dominate this week. The most likely European to contend in my opinion is Rory McIlroy, however I can't back Rory here given his indifferent recent form. Instead I'm going to back Masters Champion Bubba who has the firepower to contend around Firestone and, crucially, now has the belief and confidence to contend in fields of this depth and quality.

Watson led after round 1 here on debut in 2010 (64, 6-under) and improved on his 22nd place finish that year with a 21st in 2011 during an indifferent spell of form following his 2 early season victories - he arrives here in stronger form after a positive top-25 at Royal Lytham backed up a 2nd-place finish at TPC River Highlands where his putter performed well on the bentgrass greens in Connecticut. For a man of his prodigious length, it's a major credit to Bubba that he ranks inside the top-25 for total driving on the PGA Tour for 2012 - as I've already said, this is a critical element at Firestone. Combine that with a warm putter and the fact that he leads the Tour for greens found in regulation in 2012, I think we'll find the 33 year-old in the mix this week come Sunday. RESULT: T19

Bo Van Pelt 1pt EW 40/1 with Ladbrokes Free Bet NEW OFFER! Get a £50 free bet via this link: Ladbrokes Free Bet

Van Pelt has solid place claims here as he continues to perform in a 2012 season which has seen 11 top-25 finishes from 18 starts, included in which are 7 top 10s and a 2nd (Congressional) and 7th (Canada) in his last 3 starts. The fact that Bo didn't push on for victory on Sunday in Canada when in a strong position is a positive here as he's both avoided the wear-and-tear of a stressful Sunday plus it has kept his price long enough for us to back each way. Like my other selections, the 6 foot 4, 37 year-old ranks highly for Total Driving (8th on Tour in 2012) and is (critically for him) making a lot of birdies this season, hence the reason he's having such a prominent 2012 despite having yet to record a victory this term. Bent/Poa putting surfaces bring the best out of the Indiana-born Tulsa resident and he'll be keen to cash in with another high finish while his stock is high and he's striking the ball so well. RESULT: T8

John Senden 0.5pts EW 90/1 with paddypower promo code NEW GBS OFFER! £/€250 In free bets, get it here: paddypower bonus code

Senden can be one of the most frustrating players to back in golf. Historically it's been the Australian's putter that has perennially let down his sublime tee-to-green game (in the interest of your own sanity, DO NOT watch his round on shot tracker!), however a more relaxed attitude to his game in 2012 has seen him appearing at the top end of more leaderboards with 6th place finishes at La Quinta and Doral, a top 10 at the US Open before relinquishing a great opportunity in Illinois 3 weeks ago with 2 late bogeys to ultimately finish 4th at the John Deere Classic. Crucially that performance was his best putting effort for some time where he ranked 4th for total putts and 16th for putts per GIR - if he can play his normal tee-to-green game and putt in a similar fashion then he could easily make the frame at a long, long price. RESULT: T16

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 12:15BST 31.7.12 but naturally subject to fluctuation.

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