WGC-Bridgestone Invitational scores & report: 30/1 tip Justin Thomas wins

Justin Thomas poses with the Gary Player Cup after winning the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational
Justin Thomas poses with the Gary Player Cup after winning the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational

Justin Thomas controlled the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational from the front to win his first World Golf Championship title and land a 30/1 winner for followers of our golf tips.

Leaderboard

-15 Justin Thomas

-11 Kyle Stanley

-10 Dustin Johnson, Thorbjorn Olesen

-9 Brooks Koepka

Day four report

Justin Thomas controlled the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational from the front to win his first World Golf Championship title and land a 30/1 winner for followers of our golf tips.

One week prior to his PGA defence at Bellerive, the 25-year-old converted a three-shot overnight lead in a largely uneventful final round, as the event waved goodbye to Firestone Country Club.

Thomas shot a one-under-par 69, his worst round of the week, yet problems for Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Ian Poulter saw him win by four shots.

"I just was staying patient," said Thomas, who made 15 pars in the final round with two birdies and a bogey, adding: "It's the first time I've ever cried after winning a tournament - it was pretty cool having grandma and grandpa there."

McIlroy made four bogeys in six holes from the fifth as his attempt to win this title for a second time came unstuck while a double-bogey at the 13th confirmed the end of Poulter's challenge as he gave up valuable Ryder Cup points despite a late birdie at the 17th.

Day closed to within two shots with three birdies in a row to start the back-nine, but saw par putts lip out at the 13th and 14th holes before Thomas made just his second birdie of the day at the former.

With Kyle Stanley also dropping shots at the same two holes, Thomas was able to enjoy a commanding lead heading into the closing stretch and his wide-margin victory meant for a profitable week for followers of Ben Coley's selections.

As well as making Thomas the headline tip at what he described as an "astonishing" price, our golf expert recommended bets on Day (25/1) and Stanley (125/1), who were vying for second before Day's double-bogey at the 16th.

Stanley made birdie at the same hole to move into solo second, a position he held onto to land further each-way profits even if Day's late mistakes saw him finish just outside the places.

Early on in the final round, world number one Dustin Johnson appeared set to threaten the lead as he made seven birdies in the opening 10 holes, but a bogey at the last saw him card a round of 64 and share third with Thorbjorn Olesen, who also shot six-under for the day.

Olesen, winner of the Italian Open earlier this year, is looking to force his way back inside the world's top 50 and perhaps into the European Ryder Cup side, with his performance here set to help both quests.

Thomas, who was eighth at Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National earlier this summer, will be a key part of the United States defence on what will be his debut in the team event, but first heads to Missouri in ideal form as he bids for a second major championship.


On Justin Thomas...

"Last week, (Dustin) Johnson bounced back from a missed cut at Carnoustie to dominate the Canadian Open and I can see a similar scenario unfolding with Thomas, who was eighth on a new golf course in Paris prior to one costly morning in an Open Championship.

"Thomas ranks 24th in strokes-gained off-the-tee this season and is fourth tee-to-green, statistics which read particularly well at a course where three of the last five champions have led the field in the latter category.

"Names like Adam Scott, Hunter Mahan, Rory McIlroy Shane Lowry, Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama tell you that long, accurate driving is the starting point and while finding fairways isn't exactly Thomas's forte, at his best he's extremely confident off the tee and with good reason.

"His first win as a professional came under tough conditions here in Ohio, where earlier this season he finished eighth in the Memorial Tournament, and while he began his PGA Tour career winning a series of shootouts he's subsequently shown that demanding conditions are absolutely no problem.

"Thomas lost a play-off for the WGC-Mexico and was a losing semi-finalist at the WGC-Match Play earlier this season and although his form right now is not as strong as he'd like, I don't believe it's as far away as the price implies. Quite how he's chalked up alongside Henrik Stenson, who complained of an elbow injury during Open week, and Tommy Fleetwood, is beyond me.

"Let us not forget that Thomas has won at a one-in-six strike-rate since the start of the 2017 season. While six of these seven wins in 42 starts came when demonstrably in-form, the biggest and most significant came on a run of MC-MC-MC-28 and if there's any form line I can forgive, it's that which is drawn up in The Open."


Day three report

Our 30/1 pre-tournament tip Justin Thomas shot a third-round 67 to grab a three-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter heading into the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Our golf tipster Ben Coley has three live selections heading into the final round, with Thomas leading, 25/1 tip Jason Day four shots back in fourth and 125/1 shot Kyle Stanley just one shot further back in fifth.

Thomas is now 8/11 to land the title as he looks to hold off McIlroy and Poulter in the final round on Sunday at Firestone, while Day is a 17/2 shot to overhaul his four-shot deficit.


WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (Sky Bet odds)

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McIlroy admitted to feeling good in "every facet" of his game as he eyes a final-round shoot-out with leader Thomas after posting a second-straight 67 to move to 11 under in a bogey-free third round at Akron.

McIlroy will partner Thomas in the final group on Sunday, with the 29-year-old having now strung together 26 holes without a bogey.

"It felt good, I hit a few more fairways today which definitely helped," McIlroy told Sky Sports. "I drove the ball well, gave myself plenty of chances, didn't convert too many but even when I put myself out of position I held some good pars.

"If I can just make a couple more birdies tomorrow and keep the bogies off my card, I shouldn't be too far away. I've putted well this week and every facet of my game feels pretty good.

"I'm excited for tomorrow to see how everything holds up."

Poulter, world number three Thomas and Tommy Fleetwood had shared the lead on 11 under after the second round - but the two English players were unable to advance their claims on Saturday.

Poulter kept himself in touch with the leaders courtesy of his 70, while Fleetwood's four-over 74 dropped him back down to a share of ninth with Louis Oosthuizen, at seven under.

Day two report

Ian Poulter pledged to take a "super aggressive" approach into the final two rounds of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational after claiming a share of the halfway lead.

Overnight leader Poulter added a second round of 67 to his opening 62 at Firestone Country Club for a halfway total of 11 under par, which was matched by fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood and world number three Justin Thomas.

American Kyle Stanley and former world number one Jason Day are two shots off the lead on nine under, with Rory McIlroy another stroke back after holing a bunker shot on the 17th and also making a birdie on the last in his 67.

"I'm playing well, I feel aggressive," Poulter told reporters in a post-round interview broadcast by the PGA Tour. "I feel like the greens, the way they are, you can be super aggressive and that's what I need to do.

"I need to keep reminding myself that if I play aggressive it brings out some of the good golf in me and I need to continue that."

Poulter is currently outside the automatic qualifying places for next month's Ryder Cup but insists simply being in Thomas Bjorn's side in Paris is all that matters.

"Frankly I don't care," the 42-year-old added. "As long as I'm putting the shirt on at the end of September I don't mind whether I make it on merit or whether Thomas picks me.

"I would like to do enough to make it by my own good play. I've got a few tournaments left to put some more points on the board and I can just do what I can do and see what happens."

Fleetwood, who birdied his final two holes on Thursday, fired seven more in a flawless 63 while Thomas, who will defend his US PGA Championship title at Bellerive Country Club next week, birdied five of his last eight holes in a 64.

"I was just signing my card there and realised I hadn't had a five and you always remember those rounds," Fleetwood, who also shot 63 in the final round of the US Open earlier this season to finish just a shot behind champion Brooks Koepka, told Sky Sports.

"I never hit it out of position and think I got away with one bad tee shot where it bounced out of the trees but apart from that played lovely, putted really nice and just picked them off.

"It's a driver's golf course so you have to drive it well. I came off yesterday and I couldn't believe how good the scoring was. It just shows how high the standard of golf is at the moment."

McIlroy, who won the title in 2014, told Sky Sports: "If I had shot one under today I think it would have felt the worst I could have shot with where I was putting some of my tee shots.

"I should have been giving myself looks for birdies on that back nine and I was having to hole five and six footers for par so it was nice to finish like that. I was getting frustrated out there but that finish makes up for it."

Tiger Woods is five shots off the lead after a 68 featuring four birdies and two bogeys.

Day one report

A public pre-round pep talk paid instant dividends for Ian Poulter as he claimed the lead with a superb opening round in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Poulter has never finished better than 13th in 13 appearances at Firestone Country Club and made no secret of the fact, listing all his results on social media before teeing off with the words: "Time to buck that trend and put in a proper finish."

And the 42-year-old Englishman, who is now 10/1 for glory with Sky Bet having started the event at 80/1 (click here for more odds) gave himself every chance of doing just that after an eight-under-par 62, just one shot outside the course record, gave him a one-shot lead over Americans Kyle Stanley and Rickie Fowler.

On a day of low scoring, Spain's Jon Rahm carded a 64, former champion Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Justin Thomas were among the players to shoot 65 and Tiger Woods was just a shot further back as he bids to win the title for an incredible ninth time.

Poulter told Sky Sports: "I had a lot of fun. If you shoot 62, especially on this course, you've obviously done a lot of good things. I put it in play a lot, hit a lot of good second shots and have myself loads of chances.

"It was really nice to get one on this golf course. I posted my stats this morning and I was really frustrated when I looked at it as a whole.

"Tied 13th was as good as I've done and that's simply not good enough so it was good motivation to look at that this morning, come out and try to be aggressive and post a number.

"I didn't know the course record was nine under and it would have been nice to get one or two more (birdies), but eight under for me is a great score on this course. There's a long way to go but when I'm playing as well as I'm playing it's great to play golf."

McIlroy finished second in the Open Championship on his last start and is using this event partly as preparation for next week's US PGA Championship, where he will seek a third victory and first major since 2014.

"I'm starting to drive the ball really well and there are a few tee shots out here if you can carry it over 300 yards it's a big advantage on the rest of the field," McIlroy told Sky Sports.

"I just feel like this week is an ideal time to work on a few things. It's a great range, you get four rounds and sort of have a free run at trying things out. I felt I brought some of the stuff from the range onto the golf course and just have to work on it as the week goes on.

"Honestly we couldn't have got it easier this morning, no wind, very soft - you had to hit very poor shots to get it off line or to miss greens. Hopefully it firms up a little bit for the rest of the week but it was a day where you needed to take advantage of the conditions and I felt like I did that pretty well."

Woods made qualifying for the event one of his main goals of the season as the tournament moves from Akron to Memphis next year and the 42-year-old's opening 66 was his lowest score in the first round of a PGA Tour event since August 2015.

"It's a place where I've done it all different ways," Woods told Sky Sports. "I've been around this property for over 20 years and it was nice to see some of the people I've known for years walking a few holes with me and giving me a lot of support. I'm going to miss this place."

As for his score, Woods added: "It was a bit of a grind today, I fought hard to shoot the score I shot and really felt like I putted well today."

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