Quicken Loans National Preview

06-28-17

On the odd years, this event will be rotated through different locations as Congressional hosts on even years.

TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm used to be a regular stop on Tour until it wasn’t.

It’s back and better than ever for the QLN 2017.

Quicken Loans National

 

TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm

Bethesda, Maryland

 

Yards: 7,107 per the official scorecard;

Par: 70 (35-35);

Greens: Bentgrass; 5,300 average square feet;

Stimpmeter: 11.5’+;

Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass and Fescue;

Water Hazards: 10

Bunkers: 83

Course Architect(s): Ed Ault, Tom Clark & Ed Sneed, 1986; Steve Wenzloff & Jim Hardy, 2007; MacDonald & Son (2007).

Purse: $7.1 million; $1.278 winner plus 500 FEC points.

Defending Champion:  Billy Hurley, III, won by three shots over Vijay Singh. There are no typos in the previous sentence.

Notes: 120 players; top 70 and ties play the weekend.

Notes II: Congressional hosts this tournament in even-numbered years. This is 2017 so do the math.

Notes III: This is the first time that TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm is hosting this event. #SorryNoCourseForm.

Notes IV: This is the first event of The Open Qualifying series which will award a place at Royal Birkdale to the top four finishers not already qualified.

 

 

2016-17 PGA Tour Winners

Frys.com: Brendan Steele,

CIMB: Justin Thomas

WGC-HSBC: Hideki Matsuyama

Sanderson Farms: Cody Gribble**

Shriners: Rod Pampling

OHL Mayakoba: Pat Perez

RSM Classic: Mackenzie Hughes**

SBS TOC: Justin Thomas

Sony Open: Justin Thomas

CB Challenge: Hudson Swafford*

Farmers: Jon Rahm*

WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama

AT&T Pebble Beach: Jordan Spieth

Genesis Open: Dustin Johnson

Honda: Rickie Fowler

WGC-MC: Dustin Johnson

Valspar: Adam Hadwin*

Arnold Palmer: Marc Leishman

WGC-Match Play: Dustin Johnson

Shell Houston Open: Russell Henley

Masters: Sergio Garcia

RBC Heritage: Wesley Bryan**

Valero Texas Open: Kevin Chappell*

Zurich Classic: Cameron Smith* & Jonas Blixt

Wells Fargo Championship: Brian Harman

THE PLAYERS: Si Woo Kim

AT&T Byron Nelson: Billy Horschel

Colonial: Kevin Kisner

Memorial: Jason Dufner

FESJC: Daniel Berger

U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka

Travelers: Jordan Spieth

 

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

 

Recent QLN Champions

This segment returns next week at The Greenbrier where course history will be relevant.

The last QLN champ to prevail on “new” track was Troy Merritt as he held off Rickie Fowler at the RTJ Golf Club in Manassas, Virginia. He set the 18, 54 and 72-hole tournament scoring marks on that track. #Easy.

X-not playing this week; Y-first-time major winner

* playoff

 

 The Particulars:

All that is old is new again.

The Tour returns to the renamed TPC Avenel for the first time since 2006 and for the first time since its major renovation in the latter part of the first decade of this century.

The renovation was cause and effect for the Tour’s return. TPC Avenel opened in 1986 and hosted its first Tour event the following year. Over the years it became one of the less desirable stops on Tour due to design and drainage issues along with problems with the grasses on the fairways and greens.

After chucking in just over $30 million the course was repurposed to run with nature and not against it. With five creeks running through the property it wasn’t hard to see why it continued to flood so the redesign took that angle out of the equation as they created a nature preserve instead. Also taken out of the equation were highly undulating greens and extreme risk-reward lines from tee boxes and fairways.

With fescue bordering Scottish-style bunkers and the fairways shrunken because of the wetlands project to manage the creeks, TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm screams ball-strikers course. Although the fairways have expanded lines of attack and the greens have less undulation to add extra hole locations, Billy Hurley, III, who practices at this facility, suggest it won’t be as difficult as Congressional but suggests it will be a different kind of difficult.

At par 70 and just over 7,100 yards the guys who can knock it and can score on the par fours should shine again this week. With a brand-new track for most* of the field, those who can keep it out of trouble should have the chance to avoid bogeys and keep cleaner cards. The pictures of the bunkers don’t look like they would be much fun. Bentgrass on the greens for the sixth time in seven weeks should help separate the halves from the halve-nots but the Bent putters won’t have any previous experience* to rely upon.

*For those of you DYING for course history, there is some as the Web.com hosted events here in 2012 and 2013. You have the Google so dig as deep as you would like. The winning scores, as you will notice, suggest this track won’t be a pushover this week.. Champion Michael Putnam suggested that there is trouble everywhere and getting out of position will add strokes to the card quickly. There were only nine players under par and the winning score was 273 on the par 70 layout.

 

The event was played in October in 2012 and LCP was used in the first two rounds so that’s a bit apples to oranges for me.

 

Weather:

Temperatures in the 90’s for all four days with prevailing winds shouldn’t bother some of the best in the world. With only six tenths of an inch of rain in the month of June, it would suggest that the course could play firm and fast if they choose to set it up that way.

My theory this week is with the return to the big leagues, TPC Avenel won’t show its teeth until the weekend. The last thing they need is 120 pros complaining that the U.S. Open broke out in their return to the rotation. With perfect weather in June the course can be set up (watered, mowed, perfect greens) anyway they would like. Thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon and a shift in wind on Sunday might provide just enough difficulty where they leave well enough alone for Thursday and Friday.

 

Facts and Figures:

 

  • This event has been played previously at Aronimink and RTJ Golf Club plus seven years at Congressional so trends won’t be available as readily this week.
  • No champion has defended.
  • Only Justin Rose and Tiger Woods are multiple event winners.
  • Troy Merritt and Billy Hurley, III, the last two champions, were both first-time Tour winners. They each won on two different courses.
  • TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm didn’t see anything lower than 65 posted on the weekend (Tim Wilkinson) in 2013. Jason Gore shot 63 in the first round in 2012 but it was LPC.

 

 

The Field

 

Favorites

In order of preference for this week and tournament only. Rankings vary week-to-week based on event, course, life, etc.

Rickie Fowler: If I thought he was the best in the field at the U.S. Open I’m not sure how his T-5 that week would drop him! The last time this event travelled he finished runner-up to the unconscious Troy Merritt. Hard to get off a guy who’s first in scoring and second in SG total and who hits the top 10 60% of the time he plays the weekend!

Patrick Reed: His T-5 last week at the Travelers was an excellent result for all gamers as it proved that his T-13 the previous week at Erin Hills wasn’t a “major” result. He’s trending in the right direction and the last time he played a “new” course on Tour he finished T-13 at Eagle Point and Erin Hills. This will be the week he wipes out the one bad round from four. Oh, and in the D.C. area he can break out his sweet USA Ryder Cup gear again!

Bill Haas: Speaking of trending and heating up, I’m declaring the Haas nightmare from early spring officially OVER. Since a run of three MC in a row he’s righted the ship with T-12 at Colonial, T-25 at Memorial and a career-best finish in a major with T-5 at Erin Hills. All four of those rounds were also under par and NOBODY was faking it around that monster. He’s eighth in GIR and that travels regardless of track.

Justin Thomas: I was tempted to fade him here after his declaration on Twitter that he was tired after the U.S. Open. His MC last week busted a hot run of back-to-back top 10’s. Being from Louisville area he won’t mind any summer heat or humidity and his stat pack numbers match this week’s forecast: HOT. You won’t have to look up who leads the Tour in par four scoring either.

Kevin Chappell: Here’s another player I find interesting on difficult courses. His stats don’t jump off the page but his 2017 has been beyond solid. Also, he hasn’t faded out since winning for the first time on Tour at Valero and was T-5 at “new” Eagle Point.

Marc Leishman: It’s not broken so I’m not breaking it. Of his five bogeys last week, three were on his first four holes on Sunday. He was T-3 GIR and that should translate again this week. Resides in the top 10 in SG Total again entering this week.

Brendan Steele: Another repeat customer from Travelers and why not? He backed his T-13 at the U.S. Open with T-14 last week as he continues his career season. He’ll chop plenty of wood tee-to-green and he’s not going to mind a fair fight on the greens either.

Si Woo Kim: The PLAYERS champ turned 22 this week yet played here five years ago when he was only 17. Did I mention he was T-1 after one round after firing 65 at age 17? Did I mention that he had to play the Web.com until he turned 18 because of Tour rules? Did I mention he was the PLAYERS champ and T-13 at Erin Hills. His WD before the Travelers should have him rested and relaxed this week.

Billy Hurley, III: The Naval man conquered Congressional last year, a course he was very familiar with, and this year’s track will take things a step further: TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm is where Hurley III has practiced over the recent years. Familiarity breeds contempt? How about winning? No doubt who the crowd favorite will be this week!

Russell Henley: Most forget that he was eight-under and in the fight after 54 holes at Erin Hills before his 79 saw him fade to T-27. He stands out in a field of this size because he’s beyond solid off the tee and sits 16th in GIR.

Tony Finau: Currently fifth in both SG OTT and SG TTG plus third in GIR, he should have a chance to rock this week. He’s collected for nothing worse than T-40 in 2017.

Bud Cauley: After rattling off four top 10’s in a row he’s managed to pocket T-41 or better in three of his last four. His only MC was at Erin Hills because he continues to grind it from tee-to-green. He’ll be rewarded for solid iron play again this week.

Kevin Streelman: T-18, T-13 and T-8 in his last three. The best of the bunch was his final round 64 at Travelers on Sunday. Streelman also makes his cash tee-to-green and won’t mind the level playing field on the greens. Interesting that he rolled into this event at Congressional last year in similar form and finished T-12.

Danny Lee: No MC in his last five and half of those are sixth or better. His T-3 last week at the Travelers was his best finish since his victory at the 2015 Greenbrier Classic which he’ll defend next week. Get hot, got hot, stayed hot.

 

Next Tier

Just missed and should make excellent support staff for deeper games/tickets.

David Hearn: Uncharted territory as he’s hit the top 10 in his last two events. He’s never had more than four in a year but I’m sticking by my theory of riding hot golfers.

David Lingmerth: He’s another who has thrived recently on “new” tracks with T-18 at Eagle Point and T-21 at Erin Hills. He’s also won on this track as he took home 2012 Web.com event. His worst finish in his last four on Tour is T-26. I should probably move him up.

Grayson Murray: He’s now made eight cuts in a row and his last two (T-18, T-26) are his best two. This is a recording.

Morgan Hoffmann: He hasn’t collected anything worse than T-27 in five of his last six starts. The run also has seen only three rounds above par. He has the power to keep up and the putter to make it interesting.

Billy Horschel: Cut or big finish seems to be the recent angle but his ability to grind will be my lean this week. He hits too many greens and doesn’t have any problems, usually, with tight tracks that punish poor shots.

Graham DeLaet: Knock. T-10 at Memorial. Knock. Open with 65 the following week. Knock. Close with 68. Knock. Knock. I should move him up.

Adam Hadwin: He’s too steady throughout the bag to leave off. Additional proof would be playing the weekend 17 times in 19 tries this season. I love that he’s been quiet the last few weeks as that will drive down ownership in most all formats.

Ben An: He’s in the top 20 of too many categories getting to the green. I don’t forget that he’s won at a twisty-turny Wentworth and has sniffed around a few times on Tour in 2017.

Sung Kang: Member of the Class of 2013 who played this event in June on the Web.com. 67-68 to open and 71-73 to close was good enough for T-6 plus his 2017 has been VERY steady as pro gamers will tell you.

Kyle Stanley: Every week I fight where to put him but I’ve bumped him up this week after seeing photos of the layout. If the rough is that funky and the targets that tight, he should shine.

Hudson Swafford: Class of 2013 also and opened 67-66 that year before fading. He’s closed a deal and picked up his first Tour win this year so that won’t be an issue if he starts hot again this week.

 

Off the Beaten Path

Long shots, no-names with names, trending, event jockeys and everyone else with a few warts.

Ryan Brehm: Big hitter has played four weekends in a row but nothing better than T-35. #LownershiP

Tim Wilkinson: One of four to post 65 in 2013, second best to Michael Putnam’s 64.

James Hahn: MC, third at Byron Nelson, MC and T-6 at Memorial keeps gamers guessing and scratching their collective heads.

Ollie Schniederjans: It’s going to be a week where putting isn’t the determining factor and this points in that direction. Don’t remind gamers he’s played the last six weekends he’s entered.

Bryson DeChambeau: Yes, he was on the fades last week because that’s where guys who miss seven cuts in a row go. He moves up this week because we all know he can play and last week’s T-26 might be the spark he needed to get back in between the yellow lines.

Jason Gore: Nobody has ever gone lower on this track to my knowledge as his 63 opened the proceedings in 2012.

C.T. Pan: He remarked in early June that he found something. He proved that to be the case last week with his best finish (T-8) since January.

Sam Saunders: Another 2012 Web.com veteran, Saunders posted 66 to open that year. Course historians love them some history.

Mackenzie Hughes: #NappyFactor T-21 last week. How long does this last???

Nick Taylor: Cashed T-12 at Congressional last year and seven of his last eight on Tour.

Kevin Tway: Continues to make cuts (7 of 8) and his 67-71-66 final three rounds last week suggests he might return to the boil.

 

Fades:

Robert Garrigus: He’s left early in seven of his last eight events.

Xander Schauffele: The reward for gamers who piggy backed his best finish ever on Tour (T-5, U.S. Open) were rewarded with T-14 last week. Do it three weeks in a row and he’ll in the favorite category.

J.J. Spaun: Returning for the first time in a while as he was out with elbow issues and dental issues. I like to have guys get a few swings under their belt before I rush them back.

Jimmy Walker: Continues treatment for Lyme Disease so I’ll wait until he’s recovered plus this doesn’t appear to be a course where spraying it off the tee helps. At all.

Keegan Bradley: His three top 15’s in 2017 have been on tracks where he’s had plenty of past success and rounds under his belt. Fade is relative here as I believe he’ll make the cut but I’m not sure another top 10 like last week is on the books.

 

Next:

 

Wednesday I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled at @MikeGlasscott and mikeglasscott.com for more information.

 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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