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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Woodland can make fast start at stormy Firestone

Spieth may struggle on return to action

Gary Woodland should enjoy the course set-up in Ohio
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Sky Golf, from 2.30pm Thursday

The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, Ohio, is scheduled to start at 12.30pm UK and Ireland time, and the first round will be completed by 7.30pm if play is uninterrupted.

That is because US Tour chiefs have decided to start the 76-man field from both the first and tenth tees for rounds one and two, in anticipation of thunderstorms causing problems. Bad weather is forecast for Thursday and Friday, before a calmer weekend.

The glamour threeball is due off at 1.10pm, with Open champion Jordan Spieth joined by Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, but it remains to be seen whether storms will scupper that plan.

Whatever time they start, it will be a baptism of fire for McIlroy's replacement caddie, Harry Diamond. Unsettled weather and being grouped with two of the most intense characters in golf will severely test the rookie bagman. The outsider of three, Day, looks the value option for the marquee match.

The best threeball option of all, though, is arguably Gary Woodland to beat Andres Romero and Chris Wood in the 1.20pm gathering.

Woodland produced a tee-to-green masterclass in the Canadian Open last week and the set-up at Firestone should allow the power-packed Kansas man to enjoy himself again.

Woodland will relish a soft Firestone, a long track where big hitters typically flourish regardless of any cut in the ground, and he should be able to bully his playing partners.

Romero was a shock winner of the BMW International on the European Tour in June, but the Argentinian continues to struggle badly Stateside.

Wood found some form over the weekend of the Open after some wrist issues, but Woodland should have his measure on this beast of a course. Romero has not competed at Firestone for nine years, and Wood for four.

Pick of the 72-hole match-bet prices may be the odds-against about world number one Dustin Johnson defeating Spieth.

Johnson, the Bridgestone defending champion, appears to be getting his act together again after a back injury and finished strongly in the Canadian Open on Sunday. The superior driving of Johnson can swing this match his way.

G Woodland to win threeball
1pt 7-5 Betfair, Power
D Johnson to beat J Spieth
1pt 21-20 Betway

Johnson, the Bridgestone defending champion, appears to be getting his act together again
E.W. Terms
Sky bet