1. #1
    Chance Harper
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    Lefty draws top odds at WGC-Bridgestone

    Lefty draws top odds at WGC-Bridgestone

    The Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, is one of the top courses on the PGA Tour, and this week it hosts one of the top events outside the four majors with the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on tap. With defending champion Tiger Woods still out of the lineup, Phil Mickelson has been tagged the favorite for the event that posts up a strong $8-million dollar purse and over 26,000 points for the World Golf rankings.

    Thank the great mashie in the sky for the World Golf Championships.

    In 1999, the global golfing powers decided that the four majors didn’t provide enough exposure for their best players. So they cobbled together three WGC events worth big points in the World Golf Rankings – not to mention a huge pile of cash. This week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (formerly the World Series of Golf) has an $8-million purse, enough to lure nearly everyone not named Tiger Woods to the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.

    With Woods still injured, perennial No. 2 golfer Phil Mickelson is at the top of the betting odds at 10-1. Close behind are several familiar faces from British Open betting: Two-time champion Padraig Harrington and early Open favorite Sergio Garcia are tied at 16-1. A little farther down the list, Ernie Els is available at 20-1.

    The fact that Mickelson is back on familiar American territory – and at an event he won in 1996 – gives him shorter odds than his European Tour rivals. However, Lefty has recently endured the same kind of frustration at Firestone as he does on the links across the pond, failing to crack the Top-40 in each of his last four attempts. It’ll take more than removing Woods (winner of the last three Invitationals and six of the last nine) from the field to make Mickelson the man to beat this week.

    The first likely candidate among the favorites is the last man besides Woods to win this event. Stewart Cink (18-1) is currently playing some of his best golf since taking what was then the NEC Invitational. He’s No. 4 on the PGA Tour money list, courtesy of five Top-3 finishes including third at the Masters and first at last month’s Travelers Championship. Cink also finished second to Woods at the 2006 Invitational. Justin Rose (40-1) was last year’s runner-up, although he’s only No. 87 on this year’s money list with one Top-10 result in 13 Tour events.

    Jim Furyk (18-1) is the other top name with a strong history at the Invitational, placing in the Top 10 in six of his eight trips to Firestone. After three years hobnobbing among the golfing elite, Furyk has slipped to No. 13 on the money list and has yet to win a tournament this season after 20 events. But coming in fifth at the British Open suggests the 16-year Tour veteran can still hang with the big boys.

    The list of dark horse candidates at the Invitational starts with Darren Clarke at 125-1. The Northern Ireland native was the 2003 champion and came in third in 2001; after a frustrating 2007 campaign on either side of the Atlantic, Clarke has kept a low profile this year by returning his focus to the European Tour. However, he’s only No. 29 in this year’s EPGA rankings, a far cry from his premium level of play earlier this decade.

    Stuart Appleby (50-1) might be a more desirable sleeper pick this week. After cracking the Top-10 at his first five events, Appleby has been something of a disappointment to handicappers this year. He’s yet to hit the Top 10 since and is having an awful summer, most recently crashing to 51st place at the British Open. If Appleby’s going to rebound at all, it’ll be at Firestone, where he finished ninth in 2004, fifth in 2001 and met his wife Ashley in 2000.

    This week’s expanded field means expanded television coverage. The Golf Channel will be on hand from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern on Thursday and Friday, while CBS takes over the last two rounds starting at 1:00 p.m.

  2. #2
    Willie Bee
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    I sort of like Appleby this week. Couple of the writers at the PGA site are also looking at Zach Johnson in this one.

  3. #3
    Cappy's Avatar Become A Pro!
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    Mickelson is my boy

  4. #4
    accuscoresucks's Avatar Become A Pro!
    Join Date: 11-03-07
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    hopefully no rain delays this week