This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational – Akron, Ohio
Firestone CC South Course (7,400 yards, par 70)
$1,800,000 and 550 FedEx Cup points to the winner
For the final time, the South Course at Firestone Country Club will host the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational. Starting in 2019, the event will be held at TPC Southwind in Memphis, site of this year's St. Jude Classic. Another finality this year will be this event's role as the lead-in to the PGA Championship; the major championship known as "Glory's Last Shot" will be played in May starting next year. After an inspiring finish at the Open Championship pushed him into the World's top 50 again, Tiger Woods earned his way back into his personal playground. In case you didn't know, Firestone has yielded eight tournament wins to Mr. Woods throughout his career. Champion Golfer of the Year Francesco Molinari will be making his first appearance since winning the Open Championship two weeks ago and will look to keep his momentous form going. Important to note is the limited field and no-cut feature of this event, which grants all entrants a guaranteed slate of four rounds. Expect this loaded field of 73 top talents to produce great fanfare in the event's last trip to Firestone, the winner likely producing a score in the mid-teens under par.
Recent Past Champions
2017 – Hideki Matsuyama
2016 – Dustin Johnson
2015 – Shane Lowry
2014 – Rory McIlroy
2013 – Tiger Woods
2012 – Keegan Bradley
2011 – Adam Scott
2010 – Hunter Mahan
2009 – Tiger Woods
2008 – Vijay Singh
Key Stats to Victory
• Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
• GIR Percentage
• Par-4 Scoring Average
Firestone features just one reachable par-5 on the course, meaning par-4 scoring is very critical on the moderately tough track. Long hitters do need accuracy but can get away with missing a few fairways provided their approaches can find the green or get into position for a likely up-and-down. Shorter hitters will need to be very accurate or make plenty of putts throughout the week to make up their disadvantage of hitting more mid- and long-iron approaches on Firestone's long par-4s. Altogether, Firestone is a course best suited for long-and-straight drivers of the ball who hit plenty of greens. With no cut this week, the top-ranked players generally rise to the top over four guaranteed rounds, but this format also opens the door for talented but inconsistent players since they can get away with one bad round and still contend provided they go low in other rounds.
FanDuel Value Picks
Dustin Johnson, $12700 – DJ just notched his third victory of the season last week. He's leading the FedEx Cup, he's the best tee-to-green player on Tour this season, and he's also holds the best par-4 scoring average as well. There simply isn't a better fit for Firestone than Johnson, who enters in great form with a win to his name from two years back.
Rory McIlroy, $12100 – Rory is 11th on Tour in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee this season and stakes his claim on this event back in 2014. Rory also possesses five total top-10s in seven career appearances at Firestone, second to only Tiger in terms of course history. There's nothing holding back Rory from winning this week other than a balky putter, but even if he putts average he can still contend for victory.
Jordan Spieth, $11400 – His putting slump diminished during the recent Open Championship where he found his touch and put himself in the final group on Sunday. Though he didn't play well on the final day, this improvement and confidence brought forth makes him a great value as he will likely put himself in position to contend on Sunday when given four guaranteed rounds. Spieth is third on Tour in par-4 scoring average this season and has finished no worse than 13th the last three appearances at Firestone.
Tiger Woods, $11300 – At one point during the Open Championship, Tiger had the solo lead and looked to have a legitimate shot at claiming his 15th major championship. He yielded to his hot playing partner Francesco Molinari that day but gained real confidence in his ability to compete at the highest level. This confidence should feed into his already virtuoso record at Firestone, which makes Tiger a fantastic play this week. It would be no surprise to see him take the trophy for a record ninth time in this event's last visit to Firestone.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Bubba Watson, $10000 – Only DJ has matched Bubba's three wins on Tour this season, and this week Bubba fits the champion's profile. He's third in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and 18th in par-4 scoring average, so make sure he's a common theme in your lineups given his reasonable salary and knack for winning this season.
Alex Noren, $9900 – Noren recently won the HNA Tour de France on the European Tour and followed that up with a top-20 at the Open Championship soon after. Noren is value-priced this week at $9900 and represents a fantastic ball striker with upside for a top-5 this week. Through three career tries he has yet to crack the top-25 here, but that's bound to change given his current form.
Marc Leishman, $9500 – Leishman's best finish at Firestone is a third in 2014, but he hasn't done a whole lot at this event otherwise. What makes me think he's a good fit? Well, he's a great par-4 scorer ranked 32nd on Tour and has put together seven top-10 finishes the last 12 months.
Thorbjorn Olesen, $8100 – The youngster recently finished top-15 at the Open Championship and prior to that put up a T6 at the Irish Open and T2 at the BMW International Open on the European Tour. His form in solid and he was top-10 last year at Firestone. What's not to like at this price?
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
Though there's no incorrect strategy for lineup formation in a limited field, no-cut event, it's strongly discouraged to take more than two players from the bottom 10 salaries. Most champions at this type of event are elite and have won a major before, so stick to as many premier talents as possible, only diving into the lowest tier of salaries to fill in your last lineup spot.