Quicken Loans National – Potomac, MD
TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm (7,139 yards, par 70)
$1,278,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner
With the Quicken Loans National veering away from Congressional CC in odd-numbered years, the event will head to a suburb of Washington D.C. to play TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm for the first time. Hosting the PGA Tour in various forms between 1987 and 2006, the course took a tournament hiatus to undertake much-needed course renovations totaling $20 million. Finished in 2009, the course found redemption in hosting a successful Champions Tour event in 2010 and later Web.com events in 2012 and 2013 prior to securing a spot on this year’s PGA Tour schedule. The par-70 layout stretches to just over 7,100 yards and features bentgrass tees, fairways, and greens. As a bit of a wildcard for the PGA Tour players this week, the course will look to produce a challenge and more favorable reviews following the major overhaul.
Prior Decade Champions
2016 – Billy Hurley III
2015 – Troy Merritt
2014 – Justin Rose
2013 – Bill Haas
2012 – Tiger Woods
2011 – Nick Watney
2010 – Justin Rose
2009 – Tiger Woods
2008 – Anthony Kim
2007 – K.J. Choi
Key Stats to Winning at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm
• Recent form
• Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
• Birdie-or-better percentage
Though there are many unknowns about how the new venue will play on the PGA Tour, the consensus is that the tee-to-green game will be challenged in a similar way to other tournament hosts such as Congressional. Knowing that nearly all the players are unfamiliar with the greens, it’s a fair assumption players will find it difficult to separate themselves with their putters. Focusing on players with both recent form and good tee-to-green games is a prudent play this week. Beyond that, FanDuel rewards aggressive players who can attack pins and produce birdies, so favor guys who birdie at a clip of 20% or higher. There are many guys in the field who topped the leaderboard in last week’s Travelers, meaning plenty of options to craft a well-to-do lineup.
FanDuel Value Picks
Rickie Fowler, $10200 – The world’s ninth-ranked player heads the field and represents a good value after a week of rest following his recent top-5 finish at the U.S. Open. Fowler is fifth in birdie-or-better percentage this season.
Patrick Reed, $9800 – Though not the best tee-to-green player in the field, Reed makes up for it with strong putting and recent form. Reed was T13 at the U.S. Open and T5 at last week’s Travelers Championship.
Justin Thomas, $9700 – As a three-time winner already this season, Thomas inexplicably missed the cut at last week’s Travelers, but we’ll chalk it up to fatigue from the exhausting U.S. Open the week prior. Thomas can win anywhere and leads the PGA Tour in birdie-or-better percentage.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Marc Leishman, $8500 – A winner at Bay Hill in March, Leishman has put up nothing but solid efforts his last five events, finishing no worse than 34th. He’s also 21st in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and averages just shy of 4 birdies per round.
Kevin Chappell, $8000 – Chappell is a perfect 6-for-6 in made cuts at this event and has put together back-to-back top-25s heading into this week. This year’s Valero Texas Open champ is top-35 in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green this season.
David Lingmerth, $7200 – Lingmerth has strung together a made-cut streak of seven, and has good vibes at TPC Potomac where he won his lone Web.com title back in 2012.
Xander Schauffele, $6400 – The PGA Tour rookie backed up a top-5 finish at the U.S. Open with a tie for 14th at the Travelers last week, signaling good form. Look for the value-priced youngster to again outperform his salary.
James Hahn, $6100 – Though Hahn is known to be inconsistent, his form can turn incredibly good in a hurry, as evidenced by a pair of top-6 finishes in his last three starts. Hahn has put together three rounds of 65 or better in his last 10 rounds on TOUR and is well-priced to take a flier on this week.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
Pack your magic eight ball with plenty of trending ball-strikers and stay open-minded with a new course on tap this week. A smart option is to secure one top-3 favorite in Fowler, Reed, or Thomas and fill in from there. Many lower-tier options under $6500 have a good shot at making the cut in a smaller 120-man field, so do your homework and you may just find yourself in the winner’s circle.