WGC-Bridgestone Experts' picks

August, 3, 2011
08/03/11
6:59
AM ET

Each week of the golf season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories below: Birdie Buster, Horse for the Course, Super Sleeper and Winner.

This week's tournament: The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.

Want another opinion? Check out ESPN.com's FOREcaster page.


ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig

Birdie Buster: Scott Stallings
The most recent first-time winner on the PGA Tour comes into his first WGC event off a high from winning Sunday's Greenbrier Classic, where he defeated Bob Estes and Bill Haas in a playoff, twice birdieing the 18th hole.

Horse for the Course: Tiger Woods
He's making his first start since The Players Championship in May, and it's hard to believe he can put his game back together so quickly, but Woods does have seven victories at Firestone, among several venues where he has notched multiple wins.

Super Sleeper: Padraig Harrington
He just parted ways with his longtime coach, Bob Torrance, and is coming off a missed cut at the Irish Open, his sixth of the year. Harrington is struggling to get his game right.

Winner: Hunter Mahan
The defending champion has been unable to add a victory since his third PGA Tour title a year ago at Firestone, but he's been comfortably under the radar of late. He's had no top-10s since Colonial, but has posted seven for the year and obviously likes the course. This is a good time for one of America's top young players to break through again.


ESPN.com senior golf editor Kevin Maguire

Birdie Buster: Dustin Johnson
Firestone can be a beast (par-70 at 7,400 yards), so a big bomber such as Johnson should be well rested after his T-2 at the British Open in mid-July.

Horse for the Course: Ryan Moore
He's 35th on the PGA Tour money list and finished T-16 in his only appearance last year, but shot par or better in all four rounds in Akron in 2010.

Super Sleeper: Tiger Woods
The guy who finished 30 shots behind the 2010 winner at Firestone counts as a sleeper this year, right? Especially given that he hasn't played 18 competitive holes of golf since April? Oh, and Tiger has won on this week's track seven times in his career.

Winner: Bo Van Pelt
Toss out the British Open because it's a completely different style of golf and Van Pelt has finished inside the top 15 in his past six PGA Tour starts. Add in his T-3 at Firestone in his first appearance there last year and he's poised for a second career PGA Tour victory.

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