Tournament: World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational, August 3-6, 2017
Course: Firestone Country Club (South Course), 7,400 yards, par 70. Akron, OH.
Purse: $9,750,000 ($1,660,000 to the winner)
Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson. A 2nd round 73 looked to put Johnson out of the running, but 66-66 on the weekend jumped him about 40 spots on the leaderboard and a 1 stroke victory over Scott Piercy.
Fun Fact: They are really feeling the fans this week. Thursday is College Mascot Day, with both the Kent State Golden Flash and Zippy, the U. of Akron Zips mascot in attendance. Friday is Browns’ Day with Kevin Mack repping, Saturday is Indians’ Day with Mike Hargrove (okay), and Sunday is Cavaliers’ Day with Ron Harper. Methinks they could have done better.
Television: Thursday 1:30-6:30 pm (Golf Channel); Friday 1:30-6:30 pm (Golf Channel); Saturday 12-1:30 pm (Golf Channel), 2-6 pm (CBS); Sunday 12-1:30 pm (Golf Channel), 2-6 pm (CBS)
Former 'Dawgs in the Field (Five): Kevin Kisner, Brian Harman, Bubba Watson, Hudson Swafford, Russell Henley
While the names have changed to protect the innocent*, this is a storied course with tons of history in professional golf. Firestone CC has hosted majors, special events, and a stalwart on the PGA Tour for decades. It is also on my bucket list. The South Course famously runs almost exclusively in an north and south directions with the holes parallel to each other (#5-6 being the lone exceptions).
And it plays long. 7,400 yards is really all anyone could want in a golf course, and this actually plays to a par 70. Which means the pros play a couple of holes at par 4, whereas the members will tee it up next week on the same hole but par 5. Number 16 is the signature par 5, and thank goodness it’s downhill. Because the 667 yards would eat you up otherwise, not to mention the sloped green just over the pond. You’ll don’t see many eagles on this hole, and it might be the par 5 with greatest numbers of pros laying up on their 3rd shot (and not going for the green in 2).
The tournament is the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, open to the top 50 in the world golf rankings and a few others making recent splashes. Keep reading for which Bulldogs are playing in the “opposite field event” Barracuda Championship. But here’s who will be in Ohio this week:
Kevin Kisner. #24 in the world, #10 in FedEx, and currently inside the bubble for President’s Cup consideration.
Brian Harman. #26 in the world, #9 in FedEx, and looks like he’s also in contention for a President’s Cup roster spot.
Bubba Watson. #47 in the world, #117 in FedEx, Bubba has had a season that can only be called... well.... Bubba-like. He had a consistent July with 4 cuts made and that stopped the rankings free-fall.
Hudson Swafford. #95 in the world, #34 in FedEx Cup points, Big Hud has also made his last 4 cuts and likely qualifies for being top 50 FedEx or his Tour victory in January.
Russell Henley. #53 in the world and #18 in FedEx, Russell is sneaking up on Harman and Kisner as the UGA torch-bearers. He’s won this year, plus a few top 10s and bunches of top 25s.
The “regular” PGA Tour stop this week is the Barracuda Championship at Montreaux Country Club in Reno, NV. But while the top stars aren’t in attendance, there is still something special about this tournament - the scoring.
In most tourneys, the lowest strokes to finish 72 holes wins. It is usually reflected on the scoreboard in relation to par (5 under par, 3 over par, etc.). But this week uses the Modified Stableford Scoring System (commonly called “Stableford”). The number of strokes is important, but they carry different weights. Example: if hole number 18 is a par 5, and you score par (5) on that hole today, you get zero points. Anyone who birdies will get 3 points, anyone who eagles will get 5 points, and anyone who gets double-eagle (a 2) will get 8 points. If you bogey, you get minus 1 point, and double-bogeys and worse get minus 3 points.
As you can see, the score is not linear. It rewards going for birdies and eagles, gives you nothing for par, and the worst you can do is minus 3. So if you’re sitting in the fairway and have a long shot over water for a bogey, you go for it. Conversely, you hit lots of drivers, aim at all the pins, and basically play aggressive.
It will be broadcast on Golf Channel from 6:30-9:00 pm Thursday and Friday, and 7:00-10:00 pm Saturday and Sunday. Those teeing it up in the Biggest Little City in the World (trademarked I’m sure) are:
All three were really considered in 2014 to be the best golfers from UGA not named Bubba. But none have won recently, and all need a shot in the arm. I hope this week does just that. Tons of golf on TV out there, and 8 Bulldogs competing in these two pro events. So flip it on over and let’s root on our boys chasing little while balls.
And as always...