Sleepers: WGC Bridgestone Invitational
Zach Johnson … It's probably cheating to circle a 12-time PGA TOUR winner with two majors as a Sleeper, but if we're staying true to the model that he goes as his putter goes, this is an oddly adequate position for him. He's acknowledged that he knows that the reason he hasn't made more noise this year is due to inconsistent putting, but the familiar greens at TPC Deere Run proved reliable en route to a share of fifth place. He validated with a T14 at Royal Birkdale and now gets Firestone where he's rung up four top 10s among nine top 25s in 13 appearances. Mackenzie Hughes … Despite the level of difficulty that Firestone presents, the quality of the competition and the fact that he's making his tournament debut, there's an argument that the PGA TOUR rookie is relieved that the RBC Canadian Open is behind him. After all, it's his national championship. The 26-year-old from Ontario finished with but a share of 32nd place, but he paced 17 Canadians in the field at Glen Abbey. After a rough patch into the spring, he's come around for seven cuts made in eight starts, including in each of his last five. Three during the uptick were top 20s, including a T16 at the TOUR's pressure-packed flagship stop at TPC Sawgrass. J.B. Holmes ... If only he could put four rounds together. The common lament among touring professionals has been his routine at Firestone where he's still chasing his first top 25 in what is now his eighth appearance. His record is among the evidence against the argument that the course caters only to bombers. Finesse is just as important to contend, something toward which he's been tilting since a solo 12th at the U.S. Open. It sparked a run of three top 15s in five starts. Most importantly, he's regained an handle on round-to-round consistency that plagued him earlier in the year. Hideto Tanihara … The 38-year-old from Japan was a PGA TOUR member in 2005. It didn't work out as he made only six cuts in 20 starts. A non-member ever since, he's already matched that six-spot this season in just nine starts. With the promise of another payday this week, the globetrotter cannot be ruled out to capitalize. It happened at the Match Play in March where he finished fourth. Later, he placed T3 at the BMW PGA Championship and T10 at the Irish Open. He'd rank 156th in the FedExCup standings among members, so the Web.com Tour Finals is in his future if he's considering a full-time return in the U.S. His options are multiplied on the European Tour where he's 13th in the Race to Dubai standings. And all of this comes on the heels of finishing second on the Japan Golf Tour's Order of Merit in 2016. Whether he's rejuvenated against the world's best or just enjoying a sense of renewal, he's good, and that makes him dangerous even as he takes on Firestone for the first time. Satoshi Kodaira … While the Japan Golf Tour has introduced events early on the calendar the last two years, its season doesn't gain traction until the Masters in April. The 27-year-old from Tokyo took advantage of the newly sanctioned stops in Singapore and Myanmar in January before his annual rest, but he picked up where he left off, since adding four top 20s, including a pair of T3s. Currently second on his home circuit in scoring, second in fairways hit and third in greens in regulation. Also not a stranger to Firestone where he made his debut in 2013.
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