Tournament: Bridgestone Invitational (World Golf Championship), June 30-July 3, 2016
Course: Firestone Country Club (South), 7,400 yards, par 70
Defending Champion: Shane Lowry. The Irishman played a stellar Sunday final round, pulling off one or two miracle shots to steal the title from Bubba Watson.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 1:30-6:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, noon-1:30 p.m. (GC); 2-6 p.m. (CBS)
Former 'Dawgs in the Field (Four): Harris English, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Bubba Watson
An elite field on a time-tested track, this WGC tournament is one of five similar events. It is a limited field too, with the top 80 in the world invited. The South course is mostly long and straight, with tight fairways lined with trees and somewhat quick green complexes. It’s not a tricky course… its laid out in front of you and up to the pro to hit the shots. Personally, this is in my top 20 courses, primarily because it does have a different feel with holes mostly running parallel to each other. All four former Dawgs have played pretty well in recent weeks, and this will be the 2nd time in 3 weeks we see Bubba. Which is a rare thing indeed.
Speaking of Bubba, he has publicly declared he will play for the US Olympic golf team in Rio if he qualifies. The top 4 US players (if all four inside the world top 15) will be invited, but any declines means the next ranked player gets to go. Bubba is currently 6th in the world, and behind fellow Americans #2 Jordan Spieth and #4 Dustin Johnson (Rickie Fowler is #7, and Patrick Reed #13). Bubba is married to the former Angie Ball, who played basketball for Andy Landers at UGA. They have two adopted children, Caleb and Dakota.
This is newsworthy since #1 Jason Day has withdrawn from competition for his native Australia, citing risks associated with Zika virus and his young family. #3 Rory McIlroy also has recently declared he will NOT play for Ireland in the Olympics because of the Zika virus issue. Rory has no children but is engaged to Erica Stoll. I’m not familiar with Erica’s work, but a quick image search confirms that I too would consider turning down the Olympics if she asked me to procreate. I haven’t yet searched out my wife's feelings on this.
Tournament: Barracuda Championship, June 30-July 3, 2016
Course: Montreux G&CC, 7,472 yards, par 72
Defending Champion: J.J. Henry. Henry held off a hard-charging Kyle Reifers to claim the tropy with an eagle on the first playoff hole.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 6:30-9 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 7-10 p.m. (GC).
Former 'Dawgs in the Field (Three): Lee McCoy, Erik Compton, Brendon Todd
This is an alternate tournament, or "opposite field event", since most of the big name and high ranking pros will be at Firestone. But they do hold events opposite the WGC tourneys so that the journeyman has a chance to collect some cash. If you compare the purses ($9.5M vs $3.2M), then you can see that the rich tend to get richer.
The Barracuda will be interesting in a couple of respects. The field is deep, but missing the marquee names. They’re playing outside of Reno, NV in very picturesque surroundings. And they’re not counting scores the same way. Yep, they’re using the modified Stableford system which awards points based on your score to par on each hole with the goal of accumulating the most points. The scores reward very aggressive play, and penalize very poor play. Par is worth nothing. A birdie is worth 2 points whereas a bogey is minus 1. An eagle is worth 5 points whereas a double bogey or worse is minus 3 points. So you can’t do worse than double bogey. It’s a fun, quirky scoring system that has waxed and waned in popularity over the years. I used to love to watch the International tournament in Denver where they used the Modified Stableford, and it’s only come back the last 3 years to the PGA Tour.
Lee McCoy will be making only his 2nd pro start, Compton is coming off a top 30 finish last week, and Todd will be looking to make a cut and cash a check for the first time in 3 months. There is plenty of golf to watch on TV, so tune in and…