WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Keegan Bradley could return to form
America's Keegan Bradley has had a so-so season, says Rob Lee, but that could be about to change...
Last Updated: 30/07/13 5:25pm
After a very successful Ryder Cup in Medinah, where he fired up the crowd and won America lots of points, I thought he would have taken that performance forward and picked up a title in 2013, but he hasn't really pushed on.
Bradley had a solid showing at the Open Championship, ending it in a tie for 15th, but his best result is the second place he took at the Byron Nelson Championship and he has only recorded three other top-five finishes on the PGA Tour.
However, there is still the entire FedEx Cup play-off series to come and, of course, the USPGA Championship, so we could end up talking about Keegan and saying: 'What a great season he has had'.
We are certainly entering Bradley's time of year; he won this week's event, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, in 2012, playing superbly to pip Jim Furyk, while he got his hands on next week's tournament, the USPGA, two years ago.
Keegan is in with a shout of taking both trophies following on from his exploits at Muirfield.
And I certainly wouldn't rule out his chances, or anyone else's for that matter, of completing the double, just as Phil Mickelson did when he won the Scottish Open and then the Open.
World number seven Brandt Snedeker should be a factor at the Bridgestone and the USPGA after winning the RBC Canadian Open, his first title since he picked up a rib injury.
Snedeker started the year like a house on fire, earning four top-three finishes in his first five events, including a win at Pebble Beach, but his game has certainly been affected since he hurt himself.
Rib injuries are pretty undramatic but they are awkward and, because there is a lot of pulling in golf, can take a while to settle down; even when your doctor gives you the all clear, you do tend to protect it and that can result in your game falling away.
Now, though, Brandt seems to be back in the form he was five or six months ago and his abilities mean he will always be in contention to win; he has not got any real weaknesses, with his chipping and putting special and the rest of his game very good.
Snedeker will surely think that a Major is his next step - he had a good go at the Masters before faltering in the final round, and then finished 11th at the Open Championship - and knows how to deal with pressure after winning the Tour Championship in 2012.
I think the USPGA could be a little too soon for him but he is certainly one of the Bridgestone favourites.
Henrik Stenson should lead the European charge at Firestone as he is in cracking form.
The Swede has experienced the highs of winning the WGC-Accenture Match Play and the Players Championship, and the lows of sinking down the rankings and enduring some financial angst after involvement with the now imprisoned Allen Stanford.
However, Stenson has seen his way through all of that and is now playing his best golf - and he is someone I love to watch because he is incredibly brave and never shirks a challenge out on the course.
US Open champion Justin Rose is playing, too, and will hope to rediscover his game, which went missing at the Open, while Rory McIlroy will be determined to end his much-publicised slump as well.
Rory says he will play six out of the next eight weeks and I'm delighted to hear that because, as I've mentioned before, he needs a schedule that will maximise his game.
That might mean that he doesn't always get the necessary fee, but with that bumper Nike deal he is under he is not short of a few bob.
Let's hope McIlroy's rise begins at the Bridgestone.
ROB'S SKY BET TIPS
Can Phil Mickelson win three events in a row? Yes - if he maintains the controlled game he played both weeks in Scotland and does not bring his big-dog driver back, blast it all over the golf course and lose his rhythm.