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Risk and Reward - WGC Bridgestone Invitational

If there's one good thing coming out of my marathon rebuild of my stats spreadsheet, its that I have so much of this information fresh in my head. Whether that translates into success over the weekend, who knows, but I've fired the hamster in my computer for his transgressions and replaced him with a much more reliable gerbil. Lest you think I took it easy on my ex-hamster, I docked his pay for the pots of coffee I consumed, too. So onward to this week's picks and with a field as strong as this, splitting hairs may make all the difference.

My Power Rankings and Movers and Losers draw on statistics only, while Risk and Reward draws more on gut feel and intuition about players who missed my Top 15. In this column, you'll find "Lay-Up", "Going For It", and "Hazard". Look for more subjective analysis here, as opposed to the Power Rankings, where I rely strictly on data. Lay-Up may contain players who, barring a Great Flood, will bank you some points. Going For It is where I'll have players that may have missed the Power Rankings or who I feel present an excellent opportunity to pick up a win. Lastly, Hazards, where I often find myself on any given Sunday, should be avoided.


Marc Leishman - TA: 34.33, CHG: +3.2 - Sure, he missed the cut at the Greenbrier, but he bounced back big time with a T5 at The Open Championship. He's currently in locked-up a career year, surpassing his best money finish by dialing in that T5 as well. He's currently ranked 16th all-around, and while he doesn't standout in any particular category, he's got no glaring weaknesses either.

Graham DeLaet - TA: 54.4, CHG: 0 - He's found his way back to the Top-10 with his 7th place finish at the RBC Canadian Open last week. With no cut to worry about, expect him to be aggressive and put his 12th ranked driving distance and 2nd ranked GIR percentage to work. If, like last week, he can get his putter going, he'll be fun to watch.


Jason Dufner - TA: 46.25, CHG: -0.6 - He hasn't really shown up this year, so I think he's due for a good showing at a big tournament. He tied for 4th last year and 7th the year prior in his only two appearances. Statistically, he hasn't been great this year, as he has struggled mightily with the putter, where he ranks 170th in strokes-gained. He's a classic case of form vs. history, and his history here is so strong that he's hard to write off.

Tiger Woods - TA: 57.83, CHG: +15.5 - Borderline hazard here, as he's yet to show any real shot at contention. However, he's won here eight times, including last year, and he's running out of starts to make it into the playoffs and demonstrate he's able enough for the Ryder Cup. He's going to want it so bad that he might be able to simply scowl the ball into the hole. To his benefit, this is a no-cut event at a course he clearly likes.

Martin Kaymer - TA: 35.67, CHG: -8.2 - Will we get U.S. Open/Players champ or the guy that showed up at The Open? He's definitely more comfortable in his own skin than he has been in recent years, but I'm worried about whether that 79 (his second highest on the season) he threw out in the final round of The Open is an aberration or a sign of things to come in the next couple of tournaments. He ranks seventh all around, but 114th in strokes-gained putting.

Francesco Molinari - TA: 36.33, CHG: +17 - Burned me when I played him for the Scottish Open, and then burned me again when I sat him for The Open Championship. He's a little more toward the "Lay-Up" end of the spectrum, but as to whether he can win this tournament, I'm not sure. In four attempts, he's only finished better than 39th once, with a T15 being his best result.


Lee Westwood - TA: 81.67, CHG: -18.8 - He's missed four straight cuts, and while he doesn't have to worry about that this week, it doesn't bode well for confidence. When he has made the cut this year, he's played fairly well. But in such a deep field, I would lean on someone more apparently ready to win.

Luke Donald - TA: 56.25, CHG: -19.4 - This might be a controversial placement for the Brit, but he missed the cut in a very weak field at the Canadian Open, and played rather poorly at the Open Championship where he finished tied for 64th. His putting is excellent as he ranks 8th in strokes-gained, but at 160th in Total Driving, 129th in GIR, and 71st in Driving Accuracy, it's hard to put it to use when taking too many strokes to the green.

Hunter Mahan - TA: 67, CHG: -14.4 - Twice this year I've thought for certain he's turned the corner, and twice this year, he's gone out and missed the cut, this time in a very weak field. It's tough to tell what's going wrong with him, as he ranks reasonably well in most categories except for scrambling, where he ranks 158th. There are far better options in the field, so keep him sidelined.

My Picks

PGA Tour
  • Ryan Moore
  • Keegan Bradley
  • Graeme McDowell
  • Rory McIlroy
  • Ryan Moore (S), Adam Scott
  • Keegan Bradley (S), Rory McIlroy (S), Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk
  • Graeme McDowell (S), Sergio Garcia
Golf Channel
  • Rory McIlroy
  • Keegan Bradley
  • Ryan Moore
  • Marc Leishman

Kyle Donovan