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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Ross Fisher should prove a Firestone catch

Ormsby looks vulnerable on debut

Ross Fisher is a formidable driver
1 of 1

Live on Sky Golf & Main Event
6.30pm Thursday

Tiger Woods starts his quest for a ninth Firestone triumph at 3.20pm UK and Ireland time, joining his friend Jason Day on the first tee for the opening round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Woods, who tied for sixth place in the Open at Carnoustie last month, had only Dustin Johnson above him in the Bridgestone betting at the start of the week, but a move for Rory McIlroy – 11-1 from 14-1 – has seen the former king of Firestone drop to third in the outright market.

There are plenty of attractive options in the first-round twoball betting and it is up to punter preferences as to how they are backed. Singles on the first three selections and a double on the final two may be a sensible policy for many.

Read Steve Palmer's outright preview

Ross Fisher (6.30pm), Byeong Hun An (2.20pm) and Louis Oosthuizen (7.20pm) are all around the even-money mark, while Alex Noren (3pm) and Bubba Watson (7.30pm) become an odds-against chance if combined in a double.

Firestone is a layout which lends itself to the best drivers – long, accurate tee-shots are required – and the strength of Fisher's game is with the chief in hand. Expect the Ascot man to outgun powder-puff Aussie debutant Wade Ormsby.

An, who tied for second place in the Canadian Open on Sunday, is a former BMW PGA Championship winner who has shown he can handle tough, tree-lined tracks. The Korean was a playoff loser in the Memorial – the other Ohio event on the US Tour – in June.

An should prove too steady from tee to green for Daniel Berger, while the same can be said about Oosthuizen, who has started finding form during the same period that playing partner Pat Perez has lost his game. Perez missed the cut by five shots in the European Open in Germany last week.

Noren, a playoff loser on a difficult, tree-lined layout at Torrey Pines in January, can outclass Ted Potter, while dual Masters champion and three-time 2018 US Tour winner Bubba Watson should have little trouble seeing off out-of-his-depth Japanese raider Ryuko Tokimatsu, who has never competed Stateside.

Johnson, who won the Canadian Open on Sunday, joins Open champion Francesco Molinari on the tee at 7.10pm.

R Fisher
2pts 11-13 188Bet
B H An
2pts Evens Betfair, Betway, Paddy Power
L Oosthuizen
2pts 4-5 Betfred, Betway
A Noren
2pts 8-15 Betfred, Betway
B Watson
2pts 4-7 BetBright, Hills

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An should prove too steady from tee to green for Daniel Berger
E.W. Terms
Sky bet