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WGC-Bridgestone Preview: Can Rory Keep Rolling?

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Maybe it was one particular catastrophic incident that sent Jim Furyk down this path he's on now, or perhaps it was a series of events that rendered him incapable of closing out an event on the PGA Tour, but whatever the case, his inability to play well enough to win on Sunday has reached epidemic levels. Unfortunately for Furyk, his most recent failure will only add more fuel to the fire.

It's all a bit unfair if you look at Furyk's results on the whole. After all, he's having a pretty solid season: he's fifth in the Fed Ex Cup standings, eighth in the WGR and he's finished in the top-10 in seven of his 15 starts. Nearly every golfer on the PGA Tour would take those numbers right now and yet, it's not quite enough for us as we dissect Furyk's shortcomings.

Taken on a case-by-case basis, there have probably been several instances like this past Sunday where the player trailing Furyk simply went bonkers down the stretch to steal the victory, but when you look at all the missed opportunities together, you have to wonder what is going on in Furyk's mind. It's been four years since he won on the PGA Tour and his most recent Ryder Cup performances certainly haven't helped his cause either. There's something going on in his head and the longer he goes without a win, the worse it will get, which is not only bad news for Furyk, but bad news for the U.S. Ryder Cup team as well.

This week:
WGC Bridgestone Invitational - Firestone CC (South) - Akron, OH

Last Year:
Tiger Woods shot a final-round 70 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson.

Players to Consider:

Jim Furyk

For all of his trouble sealing the deal over the past four years, he hasn't had much of a problem contending, which he'll likely do again this week. Furyk's track record at this event is among the best, and considering his current form, he'll likely have another chance to break the drought this week.

Rory McIlroy

With the PGA Championship right around the corner, you can bet that McIlroy will be ready to go this week. His form is not in question and his track record here is pretty solid, with three top-10s in five appearances at this event.

Adam Scott

Consistent would not be the word to describe Scott's track record at this event, but when he's feeling it here, he's capable of winning, just as he did in 2011. He was overshadowed by McIlory at the Open Championship, but he played well for most of that week, which would indicate his game is in good shape entering this week.

Tiger Woods

IF Tiger is going to play well at some point this year, this seems to be the most likely place. His track record here is untouchable and he was able to show some glimpses of his former self at the Open Championship a couple weeks ago, so it is possible that he could string a few solid rounds together.

Jason Dufner

Not an extensive track record here, but the two times Dufner has played Firestone, he's fared well. Two top-10s in his only two starts and with the PGA Championship right around the corner, you can bet that he is ramping up his game to defend.

Players to Avoid:

Steve Stricker

Stricker has a nice track record here, but his game has been off for most of the season. He played the shortened schedule to perfection last season, but it just hasn't worked out for him this year. Perhaps a trip back to Firestone will get him out of this funk, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Bubba Watson

Watson is having an outstanding year, and he'll undoubtedly want to play well here ahead of the PGA Championship, but he's long been known as a guy who can psyche himself out if things don't go well early, and considering he has only one top-20 here, he may find himself in a position to give in if he starts poorly.

Jason Day

Too many questions surrounding Day right now to take him against a field like this. We still don't know the status of his thumb or wrist, or whatever is wrong with his hand, and if he's not close to 100 percent, he has no chance this week. Add in his lackluster track record here and there's simply no reason to take him.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano

Yes, he played well last week, but no, it should have no bearing on this week's event. Even when he was near the top of his game, like he was for much of last season, he's never fared well here; his best finish in four starts at Firestone was a T38 last year.

Phil Mickelson

To put it plain and simply, this just isn't Mickelson's course. No matter the state of his game over the years, Mickelson always struggles here. Even after his triumphant win at the Open Championship last year, in perfect form, he could only manage a T21. Mickelson will play this week with one eye on the PGA Championship.


Last week:
Jim Furyk (T2) - $615,600; Season - $4,747,117

This week:
Jason Dufner - With many of the top options this week long since burned, Dufner looks like the best option for me. If I had the option to pick anyone, I'd probably go with Scott over Furyk because Scott could actually win this week.


Rank: 18,710

This Week:

Group A:
Adam Scott, Tiger Woods

Group B:
Jim Furyk, Jason Dufner, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose

Group C:
Tim Clark, Victor Dubuisson


Last week:
Jim Furyk (T2); Streak - 2

This week:
N/A - no cut this week.

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