The 36-hole leaderboard for the 2015 World Golf Championships (WGC) – Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club is in. Jim Furyk shot his second straight 66 to vault into the lead by four shots. Here are my thoughts on the leader and some notable golfers near the top of the leaderboard:
Leader: Jim Furyk (-8) – certainly not surprised to see him in contention, or even leading for that matter. He’s been one of the most consistent players on Tour for over a decade now, but he’s getting up there in age. Since 1994, he has more than 200 bogey-free rounds on Tour, which is the most out of anyone. Two top-5 finishes in his last four starts. He has come close to winning at Firestone several times in the past. He has lost leads in tournaments to lose countless times; time will tell if he can hang on this week.
Bubba Watson (-4) – he’s had great form recently. I recall talking about him during the RBC Canadian Open, where he finished second alone. He’s won twice in the 2014-15 season, and he’s scored a bunch of top-5’s as well. His record at Firestone has been lacklustre — nothing better than a T19 in 2012, but maybe this time will be different. I’ve always been of the belief that if you’re in good form, you can do well on any course.
Shane Lowry (-4) – a relative unknown. Hasn’t won on the PGA Tour, but he’s won twice on the European Tour. Has missed a few cuts this season, but he also finished T7 at the Farmers Insurance Open and T9 at the U.S. Open this year. He’s played at Firestone twice before: in 2013 (T48) and 2009 (77). There’s really no way to predict if he’ll be in contention on Sunday.
Dustin Johnson (-4) – not surprised to see him up on the leaderboard considering Firestone is really playing as a bomber’s golf course. Note that Bubba, another long hitter, is also right there, so the course does tend to favour long hitters (although shorter hitters can find success too no doubt). I think Johnson definitely deserves a win after what happened at his last two major championships, and it would be great to see him pull it off. Great form as of late, although not the best record at Firestone.
Danny Lee (-3) – this guy has been unbelievably consistent and in form these past couple of months. A win and three top-5’s in his last five starts on Tour — really impressive. Maybe he can get another win or two before the end of the season. I believe he’s only played at Firestone once before, in 2009 (T51), so not much of a record. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a great chance to win at this point, though.
Jordan Spieth (-2) – not playing his best golf this week, but he’s still T8, which is pretty good. Of course, it’s no surprise to see him in the Top 10, and I think we expect him to contend in every tournament these days. Do I think he’ll win this week, or at the PGA? I’d say probably not, just because it’s so difficult to win that prolifically, and he’s already done so much this season. Tiger was able to win at an unbelievable rate, but I’m not sure if Jordan will be able to do that. T49 at Firestone in 2014.
Jason Day (-2) – another one in fantastic form (in fact, so many of the guys at the top of the leaderboard right now are). A win and 3 top-10’s in his last four starts! Looks like his vertigo issues are under control. T4 at Bridgestone in 2011 and a WD last year in 2014.
In other news: Rory McIlroy has committed to the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits next week. I must say, I’m a bit surprised; I thought he would sit out and make sure his ankle is at 100% before going out again, but it looks like his recovery is going quickly. I personally don’t think he’ll contend, though. I doubt he’ll be at 100% come tournament time, and being a little bit off can make a huge difference when playing at this level. I don’t expect him to be quite sharp enough to be a factor.
What do you think about McIlroy’s chances at the PGA? Any thoughts about this week’s Bridgestone Invitational? Feel free to discuss in the comments below!