The PGA Tour stays out east this week, moving from Connecticut to Maryland for the Quicken Loans National as only three events remain before we travel across the pond for The British Open.
Tiger Woods is back in the spotlight this week as The Quicken Loans National benefits his charity, but like Tiger's career in recent years so too has this event seen some of the luster wear off.
The venue changes again this season to TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Maryland -- and Woods won't be in attendance. A PGA Tour event has not been held at this course since 2006. Tiger's event had been quite popular with the players, being held for the most part in its 11-year history at Congressional Country Club, a U.S. Open site three times and host to The PGA Championship back in 1976. The membership at Congressional has decided to get away from hosting an annual Tour event and here we are back again after a long layoff, at TPC Potomac, formerly TPC Avenel.
The golf course has changed quite a bit since the Tour was last here. A multi-million dollar renovation was done, yardage was added and par was dropped to 70. The course now stretches to 7,139 yards, has narrower fairways and is pretty heavily tree-lined. Only 11 of the Top 50 players in the world are here, and as we have seen in recent years this could suggest we see yet another first-time Tour winner emerge. They will need to be accurate off of the tee, hit greens in regulation and, as is true at any Par 70, to score well on the 12 par 4s.
Rickie Fowler (+1022 Pinnacle): Fowler continues to own most of the stats across the board, but how will he bounce back after finishing The U.S. Open in disappointment after getting off to such a hot start? He took last week off, so we'll see if that was enough to put a missed major in his review mirror.
Justin Thomas (+1566 Pinnacle): Thomas also made a big surge at The U.S. Open before falling well short on Sunday. He missed the cut last week at The Travelers but has Top 10 finishes in three of his last five starts and leads the Tour in Par 4 Scoring.
Patrick Reed (+1575 Pinnacle): After quite a struggle this spring, Reed has started to cash some nice checks, making the cut in each of his last seven starts. Of which he has two Top 25 finishes, three Top 15s and a Top 5 last week in Connecticut.
Bill Haas (+2338 Bookmaker): Haas won this event in 2013 when it was at Congressional Country Club, but if the area is any sort of comfort zone for him look out this week as he comes in on a roll, going 12-25-5-4 after missing three straight prior cuts.
Marc Leishman (+2810 Bookmaker): The Australian is having a very good year with a win and a Top 10 finish back in March and three Top 20s in his last five starts. He has moved to 35th in the world rankings, is excellent tee to green, a good putter and ranks 21st on Tour in Par 4 Scoring.
Kevin Chappell (+2934 Bookmaker): Chappell plays difficult courses very well and this week ought to be a very challenging test. He won this season in Texas, took 35th at The Players and 23rd two weeks ago at Erin Hills. If he can get the putter going, it should be another good week for the UCLA Bruin.
The Long Shots
David Lingmerth (+3354 Bookmaker): Here is one player in the field who has played this course recently and won, taking home the trophy in 2012 at a Web.com event. Lingmerth has found his game as of late, too, making seven straight cuts and posting four Top 20 finishes in the process.
Kyle Stanley (+4500 5Dimes): Excellent stats for Stanley coming into TPC Potomac along with Top 10 finishes at The Players and Memorial. He has dipped in his last two starts, but I would expect that to change for the better sooner rather than later.
James Hahn (+6196 Pinnacle): Hahn has not played the last three weeks, but prior to that notched two Top 10 finishes in three starts at The Byron Nelson and at The Memorial. He has very good accuracy off of the tee and ranks 41st on Tour in Par 4 Scoring.
Graham DeLaet (+5500 5Dimes): We spoke about a possible first-time winner breaking through this week at The Quicken Loans National and DeLaet would fit that bill. He's had a very solid year with five Top 10 finishes, three Top 25s and a 26th last week at The Travelers. He is long and straight off of the tee, hits a ton of greens in regulation and his putting has gotten substantially better. He is 31st in scoring overall and 41st on the Par 4s. Against a weaker field on a ball strikers' course, I believe 55-to-1 is a very nice price on DeLaet. Go Canada!