WATCH: PIVOT PLAY – BRENDAN STEELE
It’s going to be difficult for this week’s tour stop to outdo Jordan Spieth’s walk-off hole out from the bunker to end the playoff over Daniel Berger. The Quicken Loans National kicks off on Thursday with the smallest field we’ve seen in the past month. The cut will still be top 70 and ties, so we can expect 6/6 lineups to be much more common than a normal week given that only 50 or so golfers will be cut from playing the weekend. We are also tasked with choosing from a much weaker field this week. Only five of the top-30 golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) are appearing in the field this week.
The Quicken Loans National is being played at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farms for the first time this year. The course is a par 70 that plays a shade over 7,100 yards. As usual, this par 70 course features four par 3s and only two par 5s. The conventional thinking heading into this week will be to target golfers who are accurate on approach and score well on par 3s. As we go against the grain this week we will target some guys with distance off the tee and attack the two par 5s on the course.
Going With The Grain
- Greens in Regulation
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Par 4 Birdie or Better
- Par 3 Birdie or Better
Rickie Fowler ($12,000) is the most expensive golfer this week for good reason. He is putting together one of the best statistical seasons of his career. Fowler is gaining twice as many strokes on approach as he did last year and comes in with great form as well. He has made 9-of-10 cuts. Only one of those made cuts has resulted in a finish worse than 16th. TPC Potomac features six par 4s of 450-500 yards, which Fowler has performed well on this year (8th in Birdie or Better in that range). It’s extremely difficult to fade Fowler given his play this season.
Justin Thomas ($10,900) is the third most expensive golfer and comes in off of a missed cut at the Travelers Championship. The 12th ranked golfer in the world is one of the best scorers no matter how you slice it. Thomas is 28th on the PGA Tour in Greens in Regulation to go with his Birdie or Better stats below. Thomas remains a great play despite coming off of a missed cut in Connecticut last week.
|Par 3 Birdie or Better||20th|
|Par 4 Birdie or Better||1st|
|Par 5 Birdie or Better||43rd|
Bud Cauley ($7,700) and Kyle Stanley ($7,600) are two golfers that are worthy of consideration at their price tags this week. They are two of the best golfers on tour when it comes to Strokes Gained (SG): Approach. Cauley and Stanley are sixth and fourth, respectively, in SG: Approach. Given their price, they both have a fair amount of cut equity as well. Cauley has made 6-of-7 cuts, including four top-25 finishes. Stanley has been no slouch either, converting eight of his last nine starts into made cuts with four top-25s of his own.
Honorable Mention: Tony Finau ($9,100) & Xander Schauffele ($8,400)
Going Against The Grain
- Driving Distance
- Par 5 Birdie or Better
Brendan Steele ($8,900) has put together one of the longest consecutive cuts made (19) streaks on tour. If you go by the official results, he did miss the cut as part of the Zurich Classic, but it’s alright to ignore it given the team format. In his 13 starts of 2017, he has eight top-25 finishes. Steele is also one of the best golfers on tour off the tee, currently 33rd in Driving Distance and 52nd in Driving Accuracy.
Kevin Tway ($7,500) continues to impress in his 2017 campaign. He is the fifth longest golfer in the field this week. Tway is also 24th in the field in Par 5 Birdie or Better. Since missing the cut at the Genesis Open, he’s made 7-of-8 cuts with seven top-40 finishes. With three golfers $10,900 and up, the salary relief that Tway provides could allow fitting in another higher priced stud this week.
The final two golfers for this week’s against the grain are DraftKings tournament plays. Seamus Power ($7,300) is one of the longest golfers on tour but also has great touch around the green. He’s 33rd in Driving Distance and 29th in Scrambling. Combine that with his Par 5 Scoring, and Power has a chance to overpower this course. He missed the cut last week but had made four straight cuts before the Travelers Championship.
Luke List ($6,900) is an interesting play this week, as well. List is coming off of an 18th place finish at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in his last start. He is second on tour in Driving Distance which has allowed him to score well on par 5s (8th in Par 5 Birdie or Better). List has a rare combination of distance and Par 3 Scoring though, as he’s fourth on tour in Par 3 Birdie or Better. The combination of Par 3 Scoring and his distance puts List in a unique position to succeed on a course like TPC Potomac.
Honorable Mention: Marc Leishman ($9,800) & Ollie Schniederjans ($8,300)
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