This used to be the easiest week of the year if you were a fantasy golf "guru." You picked Tiger Woods to win and you called it a day. Truly, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational may as well have been called the Tiger Woods Invitational with Woods winning the event eight times, including a remarkable 10-year run beginning in 1999 in which he won seven times and never finished out of the top four. Woods, of course, isn't playing at Firestone this week. Neither are a dozen European Ryder Cup hopefuls thanks to a scheduling snafu due to the Olympics. The result is a small, but still elite 61-person field and a last-place payout of more than $50,000(!) for the no-cut event. Who do we like to lift that colorful trophy that Tiger used to own on Sunday? Joel Beall and I break down the field at Firestone:
And if you're more old-school and would rather just read my normal weekly picks, here's who I'm taking on my PGA Tour Fantasy Golf team in Akron:
Jim Furyk: The 46-year-old is officially back on track after coming back from wrist surgery. Furyk finished T-2 at the U.S. Open and followed that up with a T-21at Congressional. He's never won here (thanks in part to losing a SEVEN-hole playoff to Tiger in 2001), but he's the event's second all-time leading money winner.
Brooks Koepka: The rising star backed up his back-to-back runner-ups with a T-13 at the U.S. Open. That performance included an eight-hole stretch on Sunday in which he was eight under -- an indication of the kind of firepower he possesses. Expect the Koepka Express to keep on rolling after a T-6 in his debut here last year.
Jason Dufner: Duf has also rounded back into form, albeit quietly. After a T-6 at Colonial, Dufner finished T-8 at Oakmont. He has two top-10s at Firestone in three trips to Akron.
Adam Scott: Strangely, the Aussie doesn't have a top 10 since back-to-back wins early in the season. But this is the site of his victory in 2011 -- and the greatest moment of Steve Williams' career. We're banking he breaks that top-10 drought at a course where he's finished in the top 15 four times in the past five years.
__ Bench:__ Dustin Johnson and Jason Day.
And for those of you playing other fantasy golf formats:
Yahoo! lineup: Adam Scott, Brooks Koepka, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar (starters); Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Scott Piercy (bench).
Knockout/One-and-done pick: Brooks Koepka.
Previously used: Kevin Chappell (Quicken Loans), Bryson DeChambeau (Valero), Luke Donald (Valspar), Jason Dufner (RBC), Matt Every (Bay Hill), Tony Finau (Frys.com), Sergio Garcia (Riviera), Bill Haas (Farmers), J.B. Holmes (Wells Fargo), Dustin Johnson (U.S. Open -- winner!), Kevin Kisner (RSM -- winner!), Russell Knox (Honda), Brooks Koepka (St. Jude), Matt Kuchar (Colonial), Anirban Lahiri (CIMB), Graeme McDowell (Hyundai), Kevin Na (Phoenix), Ryan Palmer (CareerBuilders), Scott Piercy (Byron Nelson), Patrick Reed (HSBC), Patrick Rodgers (Shriners), Brandt Snedeker (Pebble), Brendan Steele (OHL), Henrik Stenson (Players), Justin Thomas (Sony), Bubba Watson (Masters).