As you would expect for a WGC event, a loaded field full of all the top golfers in the world will play at Firestone this week for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The South Course at the Akron-area country club has become a second home to Tiger Woods, who has seven career victories here -- a PGA Tour record he's also matched at Torrey Pines and Bay Hill during his career. The resume at Torrey South also includes an eighth title, the 2008 U.S. Open, his last major victory.
Even though that majors drought persists, Woods is still the clear No. 1 player in the world and cannot lose that perch even if Phil Mickelson wins the next two weeks. He'll always be the favorite at any tournament he enters, particularly during a four-win season. Tiger comes to Firestone as the 9/2 favorite, with recent champion golfer of the year, Mickelson, behind him at 14/1. Those two Americans, who have owned golf during this generation, are back to 1-2 in the world and will be the favorites next week at the PGA Championship as well.
Holding the third-lowest odds this week is Adam Scott, who played with Tiger on Sunday at Muirfield and held the lead before blowing up to make four straight bogeys for the second straight year at that major. Of all the recent first-time major winners, Scott is the best bet to repeat. He ran away with this tournament two years ago, winning by four strokes in Akron before going on to a top 10 finish at the PGA. Prior to his Masters victory this season, the WGC title here was the biggest win in his career since picking up a Players Championship almost a decade ago. Scott's most likely tuning up for next week, but with his track record, he's going to keep those low odds everywhere he shows up.
Rory McIlroy is the one outlier, breaking away from the aforementioned three favorites at the top of the world rankings with him. McIlroy, who again received some unsolicited advice on his work-dating life balance this week, is 28/1 but it was at Firestone where he seemed to get things on track last year before rolling to a resounding win at Kiawah. It seems much more unlikely that Rory pulls it together this year, but the No. 3 player in the world at least won't have to worry about missing the weekend at this no-cut WGC event.
Here are the odds for the limited-field event in Akron, via Bovada:
|Bo Van Pelt||100/1|
|Miguel Angel Jimenez||175/1|
|Sang Moon Bae||250/1|
|Jaco Van Zyl||300/1|