This week the Tour heads to Maryland for an older event at a new venue. The Quicken Loans National is an invitational event which features a reduced field of 120 or so players and will be taking place at TPC Potomac this year for the first time ever. I have a bit of info on the course below but the venue will be in play for the first time since 2006 as a PGA host and has pretty much been destroyed and built back up again since we last saw it on tour. The course looks like it will play fast and firm this week so expect birdies to be at a premium.
A New Venue: TPC Potomac was completely redone in the early 2000’s. It is now a longer par 70 (over 7,100 yards) and has hosted three events since it’s redesign. Of the three events two were Web.com events (2012-Neediest Kids and 2013-Mid-Atlantic Championship) and one was the Senior Players Championship. Of note is the fact that the winning score in all three events never travelled past 8 under par. There are six par 4’s on the course which measure in at over 450 yards and also a couple of longer par 3’s so good, accurate mid-iron play looks like it will be key. Looking at efficiency stats from 450-500 yards and looking at bogey avoidance stats could be key for the week as well.
Advantage Bombers?: The course this week has been described as firm and fast and the weather looks hot with little rain in sight. This should make the greens difficult to hold. While it may give some run to the shorter hitters off the tee, holding the green could be tough for players who don’t have high ball flights. Apex Height stats might not be a bad thing to look at here and overall I think this will play into the hands of the longer hitters who will have shorter approaches to deal with and higher ball flights.
Marc Leishman ($9,800): Leishman has been killing it tee to green of late and last week was no different as the big Aussie ranked top five in approaches and greens in regulation stats at the Travelers. Leishman only recorded five bogeys last week which is a great sign given that bogey avoidance should be key at this venue. If his putter gets going, he could easily record his second win of 2017.
Kevin Chappell ($9,300): Chappell didn’t get along that great with Erin Hills but he was still solid enough to record a top 25 finish there. For this week, I’m focusing more on how well he played in Memphis prior that start, as he ranked top five in approaches and tee to green stats for the week there on another difficult and longer par 70 at TPC Southwind. Chappell should set up well for this week and has had success at other venues in this area, including a 2nd at Congressional in the 2011 US Open, which is just down the road from TPC Potomac.
Brendan Steele ($8,900): Steele keeps on rolling along and with his price under 9k here on DraftKings again I wouldn’t hesitate to keep firing him. Three top 15’s in his last four starts, and the fact he ranks inside the top 35 in both SG: Approach and Around the Green stats makes him look like a perfect fit for a test that will both challenge short games and reward those who hit a ton of greens.
Danny Lee ($8,200): Lee has really picked things up mid-season and recorded his third top-six finish over his last five starts last week at the Travelers. The putter has often been streaky for Lee but the fact he ranked ninth in SG: Putting last week definitely gives us hope that he’s not far from a “put everything together” kind of week here. Of note, he ranks first in Apex height on tour which could be key if the greens play firm and fast, which is likely.
Others: Bill Haas, Patrick Reed
Kyle Stanley ($7,600): Like Brendan Steele, I will keep including Kyle Stanley here every week until he other falls out of form or goes up drastically in price. Top Ten in approaches and greens in regulation stats means he should be able to hold far more greens than the field this week and the fact he ranks first in efficiency from 450-500 yards isn’t horrible either. A big bounce back after a slow week won’t surprise me.
Si Woo Kim ($7,500): The scariest pick of the week for sure, but fading him at only $7,500 is an even scarier proposition. Kim has dealt with back issues all season which have led to WD’s and wonky stats but he was eighth in SG: Tee to Green at Erin Hills, suggesting a return to the form which saw him win THE PLAYERS isn’t far off. He’s the ultimate risk/reward pick but in a weakened field, at just $7,500, he’s well worth it this week.
Luke List ($6,900): List has looked close to putting things all together a couple of times this season. His last time out at TPC Southwind (another tough par 70) he gained an incredible 11 strokes on the field Tee to Green but lost over 3.5 with his putter. With tons of length, a high ball flight and an approach game which looks to be peaking again, he looks like great value for DFS. List was 13th here in 2013 at the Web.com event and will have some knowledge of the course as well.
Others: Bud Cauley
High-Upside GPP Picks
Russell Henley ($9,200): Henley is almost always on my shortlist and in a weaker field I feel like he’ll again go overlooked this week. While Henley didn’t exactly have the best finish to his US Open, he was in contention after round three and Tee to Green was excellent most of the week. He’ll be looking to put a bad finish behind him here and with his skill on the greens is never a bad idea for gpps, especially if we’re getting low ownership (which we should this week).
James Hahn ($7,600): Hahn has either been killing it in DFS or missing the cut completely, making him a nice gpp target this week for those of us who value upside more than consistency. His two tour wins came on tougher venues with winning scores under double digits so this should set up well for him. He’s also played this venue before in 2012, giving him a slight edge experience wise here too.
Ricky Barnes ($6,600): Barnes has been playing surprisingly well of late. Even though he completely bombed the last time I targeted him (FedEx St. Jude) I’ll recommend him again on the basis of six of seven cuts made and a player who looks close to putting together a big week. His struggles off the tee may not hurt him much here if the fairways roll fast and require clubbing down, and solid putting and approach game stats are enough to make him a low salaried target in tournaments.
Other: Harold Varner III
Players to Consider (in no order)
– Marc Leishman, Patrick Reed, Kevin Chappell, Bill Haas, Brendan Steele, Danny Lee, Luke List
– Si Woo Kim, Kyle Stanley, Bud Cauley, Ricky Barnes, James Hahn, Harold Varner III, Russell Henley
Si Woo-Kim 50-1 (now 40-1)
Luke List 100-1 EW
Ricky Barnes 200-1 EW and 7-1 top twenty