Macaulay Renner

Renner's Rundown

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WGC-Bridgestone Preview

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


This week we are headed for the Midwest to Akron, Ohio, for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational being played at Firestone Country Club's South Course.

The layout was built in 1929 but Robert Trent Jones Sr. made his mark on the course in 1960.


This is a no-cut event comprised of 76 golfers on a course that measures 7,400 yards and has a par of 70 (35-35) with greens that are a mix of Pencross Bentgrass and Poa Annua. The course boasts some monster-sized par 4s with seven of them measuring over 460 yards. The longest hole is a par 5 that measures a ridiculous 667 yards.

Weather
The weather for the Akron, Ohio, area this week calls for rain and thurderstorms during Thursday and Friday. It looks like the weather could factor into this week's strategy from a fantasy persepective. I don't think tee times will matter much with so few golfers in a no-cut event but that doesn't mean to disregard it completely.

Recent WGC-BI Winners
Dustin Johnson (2016)
Shane Lowry (2015)
Rory McIlroy (2014)
Tiger Woods (2013)
Keegan Bradley (2012)

2016 WGC-Bridgestone Recap
Last year saw Dustin Johnson shoot a pair of 66s over the weekend to win the Bridgestone Invitational over Scott Piercy and Kevin Chappell. Jason Day finished bogey-double bogey-par-bogey to ruin his chances at a win while opening the door for Johnson to walk through.

There were a few debutantes that played in the event with Kevin Chappell finishing the highest of them all. We did see three withdrawals ( WDs) during the event by: Davis Love III, Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka with Berger's WD causing a lot of angry fantasy owners since he hit one tee shot before calling it quits and collecting his guaranteed paycheck.


Looking at what it will take to play well and contend this week, I wanted to start by looking at the rankings in a few areas from the top-5 WGC Bridgestone finishers last year according to: Driving Distance (DD), Driving Accuracy (DA), Greens in Regulation (GIR), Scrambling (SCR), and Strokes Gained Putting (Putt).

Top 5 Finishers at the 2016 Bridgestone Invitational
Dustin Johnson: 2 DD / T4 DA / T5 GIR / T19 SCR / 8 PUTT
Scott Piercy: T26 DD / T9 DA / T5 GIR / 13 SCR / 20 PUTT
Matt Kuchar: 36 DD / T4 DA / T1 GIR / 1 SCR / 30 PUTT
Kevin Chappell: 6 DD / T7 DA / T12 GIR / 15 SCR / 18 PUTT
Jason Day: 32 DD / T46 DA / T9 GIR / 3 SCR / 3 PUTT
Jordan Spieth: 16 DD / T19 DA / T54 GIR / 2 SCR / 1 PUTT

Reviewing the stats above, we see that four of the six finished the week inside the top 10 in driving accuracy and four of the six finished inside the top 10 for greens in regulation. It's really cliche, but at Firestone Country Club it appears that fairways-and-greens is the key to success.

Course-Specific Stats
Course history stats courtesy of FantasyNational.com as we look at who has performed best when isolating stats to this week's venue.

To qualify for the following lists, a golfer must have played at least 8 rounds at Firestone CC since 2012.


Fairways Gained at Firestone CC
Francesco Molinari
Henrik Stenson
Jason Dufner
Matt Kuchar
Ryan Moore
Zach Johnson
Danny Willett
Bill Haas
Paul Lawrie
Hideki Matsuyama

Greens in Regulation Gained at Firestone CC
Henrik Stenson
Justin Rose
Bubba Watson
Rory McIlroy
Bill Haas
Jason Day
Charl Schwartzel
Paul Casey
Billy Horschel
Matt Kuchar

Birdies Gained at Firestone CC
Rory McIlroy
Charl Schwartzel
Rickie Fowler
Lee Westwood
Jordan Spieth
Sergio Garcia
Patrick Reed
J.B. Holmes
Hideki Matsuyama
Bubba Watson


Par 4 Efficiency at Firestone CC

Henrik Stenson
Charl Schwartzel
Matt Kuchar
Rory McIlroy
Bubba Watson
Jason Dufner
Jordan Spieth
Dustin Johnson
Justin Rose
Paul Casey



Opening Acts

Players that may fly under the radar and help you fit some headliners onto your roster.



Xander Schauffele

The San Diego State product has been in great form gaining an average of 8.8 strokes per event, over his last five start. His only weakness has been his play around the greens. The past five events have been rock solid, a stretch that includes a win and three other top 20s. I like him this week to finish in the top 5.


Brian Harman

Harman is swinging well recently with finishes of MC-10-35-2-MC over his last five starts while gaining an average of 2.4 strokes on the field (per event). If he can get the flat stick going, he could be a factor this week in Ohio.


Branden Grace

Grace played the round of his life at The Open shooting a record 62 for the first time in a major championship. Grace is a top-notch wind player and could be a strong play if the wind picks up as the weather gets stormy. Grace isn't the most accurate off the tee but ranks 17th on tour in GIR from Other than the Fairway and has a course history that reads T10-T17-T23-T65-T36. Unfavorable weather conditions may be in favor of Grace so keep an eye on the weather.


Zach Johnson

ZJ is another player who has had success at Firestone over the years and is probably one of the top course horses here with a impressive track record that includes nine top 25s and four top 10s in 13 starts at Firestone CC. During the 2016 edition of this event, Johnson struggled with finding the fairways (T47) so he will have to do a better job this year if he wants to contend as he did in the past.


Kevin Kisner

The Georgia Bulldog ranked 37 DD / T17 DA / T25GIR / T51 SCR / T10 in 2016 at this event where he finished in a share of 16th position. This year he looks to build on his confidence gained in 2016 while he arrives on the heels of T54-T44-MC-T58 so he needs to tighten up his game up especially in such a strong field as this.


Charl Schwartzel

The South African finished last year ranked 19th in fairways hit, 1st in GIR, T45 in putting and 11th in driving distance so he was just a tick away of contending to win this event. Depending on how he putts this week he could be a player to watch.


Russell Henley

Henley has been been playing up and down with his last five starts reading: 37-5-46-27-MC and he is only gaining an average of 0.7 strokes on the field in his last 5 events. He is ranked as one of the top ten putters on tour and could be a dark horse this week if his flat stick catches fire.


J.B. Holmes

After finishing T14 at the RBC Canadian Open this past weekend, Holmes led all players in driving distance during the 2016 edition of the Bridgestone. His power will be a weapon when taking on the lengthy par 4s at Firestone Country Club.


Patrick Reed

Reed finished the 2016 Bridgestone Invite with rankings of: 40 DD / 55 DA / 52 GIR / 31 SCR / 6 PUTT so it's no wonder he finished in he 52nd position. He arrives with top 20s in four of his last five PGA TOUR starts, giving him a good chance to improve upon last year's solo 52.


Russell Knox

The Scot posted stats in the 2016 WGC-BI as follows: 42 DD / T36 DA / T16 GIR / 31 SCR / 52 PUTT resulting in a lackluster finish of which he looks to improve upon this year. His fairways-and-greens play style could certainly play well on this layout.


Kyle Stanley

Stanley has been playing some of his best golf of his career with impressive all-around stats. He leads the way ranking first in GIR as well as 5th in strokes gained off the tee. He currently sits 16th in FedExCup Points and will look to compete again this week among the best players in the world. It will be fun to watch a well-rested and confident Stanley play as he excels at Par 4s and should fare well at Firestone.



Headliners


Charley Hoffman

After another near-miss this past weekend, Hoffman looks to continue his good form at a course where he's finished top 40 in all four tries. That is nothing spectacular when you consider the field size but his current form gives him a big boost.


Jordan Spieth

Spieth is playing in his first outing since his spectacular win at the The Open two weeks ago. He boasts a strong course history at Firestone South finishing T3-T10-49 over his past three loops. Spieth ranks second on the PGA TOUR in GIR from other than the fairway and 4th in bogey avoidance. Coupled with his strokes gained putting on this course, I think Jordan can find his way into the top 5 again this week.


Rory McIlroy

He is first in strokes gained off the tee as well as 3rd in strokes gained around the green. His lack of putting all four days together has been problematic for him. Making headlines this week as he parted ways with his long-time caddie, looking for a chance to redeem himself at a course he's has success on.


Sergio Garcia

Garcia boasts a strong history at the Bridgestone event having played here over ten times with finishes that read: T37-2-40-29-53-22-22-36-20-22-13-16-T30-T58-T7 so I expect him to play well here. After a lackluster showing in The Open, look for Sergio to come back to the states and make some noise.


Rickie Fowler

Comes into the Bridgestone after a somewhat disappointing showing at The Open that never really saw him contend. This week he will try to right the ship. Last year he ranked 45th in strokes gained off the tee at Firestone and 30th in driving distance but excelled around the greens, ranking 4th in that stroked gained department. Rickie is strong with his iron play and ranks 6th on tour in GIR accuracy from beyond 220 or more yards. With so many long holes, the ability to hit the green from a distance will be a big factor in a players success this week. He has a solid course history over the past seven years reading T10-T10-8-T1-T60-T2-T33.


Kevin Chappell

Chappell was on the doorstep his past weekend but came up short yet again. Chappell finished T3 in his debut here last year. A close call last year (and last week) makes him an interesting option this week in Akron, Ohio.


Justin Thomas

Thomas played well at The Open (but got hit hard by one hole where he carded a NINE on a par 4). Thomas ranked T15 in driving distance during his debut here last year but T41 in driving accuracy and T45 in putting so he will need to find more fairways and get the putter going if he wants to contend this year. Thomas is one of those players who plays better in stronger fields so I think he gets back on track this week.


Jon Rahm

Rahm is one of the PGA TOUR's best tee-to-green player currently ranking 3rd in strokes gained off the tee, 2nd in strokes gained tee to green, and 3rd in total strokes gained. Trying to improve on his inability to keep a calm demeanor when things get ugly and don't go his way. I feel that as he matures he will learn to control his emotions and focus it in the correct direction. If he can do that, I feel that he will be number one in the world very soon.


Hideki Matsuyama

Matsuyama comes into the tournament with last year's stats at Firestone CC reading: 35 DD / T27 DA / 22 GIR / T5 SCR / T47 PUTT. He comes into the his event on the heels of a T14 at The Open and a T14 at the Irish Open two weeks prior. A well-rested Hideki will be a popular play once again, garnering an ownership in the 19-24% range across DFS sites.


From a DFS perspective, it's going to be important to try and create the best roster while ensuring that you are making a completely original roster. With a small field and no cut, leaving money on the table as well as a Stars-and-Scrubs approach may be a good place to start. Be sure to follow me on Twitter to check out my DFS results as well as my core picks for the week as Thursday gets closer.


My Top 15 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Ranking

Jordan Spieth
Dustin Johnson
Jon Rahm
Kyle Stanley
Branden Grace
Rickie Fowler
Justin Thomas
Xander Schauffele
Zach Johnson
Matthew Fitzpatrick
Charl Schwartzel
Russell Henley
Hideki Matsuyama
Marc Leishman
J.B. Holmes


continue story »
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Macaulay Scott Renner has been playing ice hockey and golf for over 40 years while growing up on the beaches of the NJ shore. An avid Grateful Dead fan, he has been playing fantasy sports since 1999 and currently resides in Philadelphia. Macaulay can found on Twitter @msr427.



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