The PGA Tour heads to the Firestone Country Club for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
This year marks the final instalment of this event in Akron, Ohio before it moves to Memphis next season.
Firestone is a brutal, long par-70 spread across 7,400 yards and has been a staple on the PGA Tour for more than 50 years.
There’s only two par fives and one is more than 660 yards, so eagles will be rare this week.
This tournament and venue is a long-time favourite of Tiger Woods ($8,600) who has won here a whopping eight times.
Woods managed to sneak his way in to the field on the back of his T6 finish at The Open Championship. Another win here would cap a remarkable return to form on the PGA Tour.
It is a 71-man no-cut event so all players will get four rounds of action, barring a withdrawal.
Last week: The RBC Canadian Open was one of the worst weeks the column has seen. Nine leans resulted in five missed cuts and only one player in the top 10.
As always, we can only move forward and if it’s any consolation, I didn’t cash a single line-up last week.
With the small field you will need to be aggressive this week.
There’s no cut so everyone will get 9/9 through – hooray – but having guys who collect pars and enjoy four rounds of golf won’t do you any good.
Don’t be afraid to pick some flyers and you will most likely need the winner on your roster.
Potentially, pick who you think will win the event and then work around them.
There won’t be many eagles with the lengthy par fives so par-four performance is crucial. Seven of the par fours are between 450-500 yards.
Woods aside, I will put emphasis on course history as this tough track is best mastered over time.
Hideki Matsuyama ($6,700) is the defending champion. The fairways are receptive but the small, greens can be tough to hit.
We want players that are long from the tee who are good ball-strikers to tackle this beast.
Please note: Justin Rose ($8,600) and Adam Hadwin ($5,500) have withdrawn.
$8 and $9K Range
Rickie Fowler ($8,000) – Fowler has four straight top-10 finishes at this tournament.
His strong game off the tee usually puts him in good stead. He burned people with an iffy performance at The Open but he is reliable in these spots.
He’s 11th on Tour in scoring average.
Jon Rahm ($7,700) – Rahm was 28th at this event on debut last year.
The fiery Spaniard is second on Tour for birdie average and strokes gained: off the tee.
His iron game has been inconsistent this season but I like his scoring potential at this price.
Even one bad round can be won back with plenty of birdies.
Francesco Molinari ($7,500) – This is a classic ‘course history v current form’ scenario.
Molinari is probably the hottest player on the planet but does not have a great record at this event.
He’s become a different beast in 2018 and capped it with an historic victory at The Open recently.
It’s hard to ignore a player in this form at this price. He’s working with a new putting coach and the flat stick was his Achilles heel for a long time.
Brooks Koepka ($7,100) – Fading Dustin Johnson ($9,400) in favour of Koepka proved costly last week but Koepka’s price makes him a play for me this week.
He’s long from the tee and is an excellent scrambler. Koepka’s stats won’t wow you but he turns up in the big events.
The world No 4 at this price? I will bite. Koepka burned plenty with his missed cut in Canada last week so hopefully his ownership is down.
Paul Casey ($6,900) – Casey has finished inside the top 17 in his past three appearances at this event.
He’s eighth on Tour for strokes gained: tee-to-green on the back of his elite ball-striking.
The Englishman regularly pops up in these big events and represents great value for only $6,900.
Xander Schauffele ($6,400) – The 24-year-old American seems to fire on the big stage.
T6 at the US Open, T2 at The Open and a T2 at The Players Championship this season indicates that tough fields bring out his best.
The long-hitter finished inside the top 13 on his tournament debut here last year. He’s 29th on Tour for driving distance and hopefully that length will help him again this week.
Brendan Steele ($5,500) – Length from the tee and ball-striking draw me towards Steele.
He was 24th at this tournament last season and if he finished there again he would return his value at this price.
If you take some guns at the top, you will need some players from this range and Steele could give you a sight.
He is sixth on Tour in strokes gained: off the tee this season.
Aaron Wise ($5,400) – Since winning his maiden PGA Tour title at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May, Wise has missed five straight cuts.
That does not bode well but if you go down this low, you need to take a risk.
He’s 36th on Tour for driving distance and 13th in birdie average and that’s the key statistic for me.
The 22-year-old can score when he’s on form so let’s hope he can get the driver going.
Piece of Chalk: The hot form cannot be denied, it’s time to play Francesco Molinari ($7,500) at this discount rate.
Scrub-A-Dub: Give me some Brendan Steele ($5,500) at this price.