Quicken Loans National
So it was another great week for us at the Travelers with Bubba bringing home the spoils at 40-1.
I was concerned he’d blown it with his sloppy finish on Saturday alongside Casey’s really strong third round conclusion, however at TPC River Highlands history has shown you’ve always got a chance from five or six behind going in to Sunday and so it proved again.
In the end Casey got the jitters and with none of the other front runners going in to the final round able to throw in a low one the door was open for Bubba to walk through with a great round of 63.
Moving on and the tour moves 340 miles South past New York and Philadelphia to reach TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Potomac, Maryland, home for this year’s Quicken Loans National.
The area is a suburb North West of Washington DC.
The tournament has been on the PGA Tour calendar since 2007 and for the first three years it was held at the Congressional Club also in Maryland.
The event was also held at Congressional in 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2016.
In 2010 and 2011 it was held at The Aronimink Golf Club in Pennsylvania, whilst in 2015 it was held at The Robert Trent Jones Club in Gainesville, Virginia.
Finally in 2017 the event moved to Avenel where it is to be held again this year.
The event benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation and therefore Tiger is teeing it up this week.
Beyond Tiger in all honesty the field is slightly bereft of big names with Rickie Fowler the only member of the worlds top 10 on display.
TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm is a Par 70 measuring at just over 7100 yards.
The greens are Bentgrass.
The course originally opened in 1986.
The venue was host to the Kemper Open/Kemper Insurance Open from 1987-2002, The FBR Capital Open in 2003 [won by Rory Sabbatini] and the Booz Allen Classic in 2004 & 2006.
In addition it is worth noting the course hosted the Neediest Kids Championship & the Mid Atlantic Championship on the Web.com tour in 2012 & 2013 and several of those in the field this week played in one or two of those events.
In 2007 after ongoing criticism of the course lead to several top players swerving the annual PGA Tour event, and also with the course being plagued by drainage problems and flooding, a full course renovation/re design took place under the supervision of Stephen Wenzloff & Jim Hardy.
As noted earlier since the inception of the event in 2007 the venue for the tournament has rotated around several different courses.
From this point of view we have very little course history to go on in relation to this tournament as this is only the second year it has been held at TPC Potomac.
It is worth noting though that Congressional Country Club which hosted the 2012, 13, 14 & 16 events is located very nearby so players who have performed well at Congressional before may well have positive vibes from being back in the area.
From what we do have to go on if we take a look at last years event it is clear that TPC Potomac in its current guise is a tough nut to crack.
The event was won by Kyle Stanley with a winning score of -7.
Kyle is renowned as one of the best ball strikers on tour and when you couple this with the fact that Charles Howell III, Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley also all finished in the top 5 it would seem that a strong game tee to green is a key attribute for success here.
From a winners point of view whilst the event in it’s earlier years was won by marquee names of the time such as KJ Choi, Anthony Kim, Nick Watney & Bill Haas, and their were two wins each for Tiger and Justin Rose, in recent years as we have seen lesser lights Troy Merritt and Billy Hurley III triumph before Stanley’s win last year.
So with the field this year lacking in depth don’t be put of backing a lower ranked player if they catch your eye.
We appear to be in for a very warm week in Potomac with temperatures peaking in the mid 90s over the weekend.
At the time of writing it looks like we should get four uninterrupted days of sunshine, however there is a possibility of a storm on Wednesday which could soften things up for Round 1.
As I always say though this could well change!
I have gone with five players this week as follows;
BYEONG-HUN AN – 40 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED 41st
Whilst he is yet to feature in one of our weekly teams this year I have been keeping an eye on the former British PGA Champion Ben An for a while and this strikes me as the perfect week for him to finally get his first win on the PGA Tour.
Ben’s first potential brush with victory on the PGA Tour came at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 2017 however after holding the lead going in to Sunday he was unable to get the job done.
Ben then went on to notch a couple more top 10s that year at the Wells Fargo and the Byron Nelson.
This year has seen Ben step it up further and he already has three top tens on the year and he did very little wrong recently at the Memorial before coming up short in the play off [fortunately from our point of view!] to Bryson Dechambeau.
Talking of the Memorial whilst we have little course form to go on this week what we do have from both last year and from the Web.Com events played here earlier in the decade has lead me to draw some dots connecting the event to Jack’s event at Muirfield Village.
There is no obvious reason that I can see for this and it could yet turn out to be a coincidence however last years winner Kyle Stanley has a stellar record of late Muirfield Village whilst former Memorial champion David Lingmerth [more of whom later…] clearly loves it here having won the 2012 Web.com event before finishing in this event here last year.
With An already firmly on my radar for this week this is naturally a very encouraging link.
I mentioned earlier that based on last years event this would appear to be a course that will suit a strong tee to green game and it is therefore pleasing to see Ben sitting 10th in SG of the Tee and 18th in SG Tee to Green on the season.
In addition we do have some evidence from last year that this venue may well suit Ben’s game as he finished a positive 29th here, which included a third round of 66.
In a week where there are certainly question marks over those heading up the market I am more than happy to have this improving young player in our team.
DAVID LINGMERTH – 66 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED 48th
Next up for me this week is Swede David Lingmerth.
Whilst I am always looking to seek out a bit of left field value when I can sometimes it just pays to back the guy who appears to have found a bit of form and who loves the course.
That man this week is Lingmerth.
The Swede has had a fairly woeful year to date and prior to last week he had missed four of his previous five individual stroke play cuts.
The one cut he had made was three weeks ago at Memorial when he finished 29th and this of course was the scene of his only previous PGA Tour victory to date.
A bit like last weeks winner for us Bubba, Lingmerth is one of those sort of players who can be relied upon to perform well time and again at the same courses that he has shown a previous liking for and we come to one of those tracks this week.
As I mentioned earlier David won the Web.com event held here in 2012 and he backed that up by playing well here last year on his first visit since to finish 5th, so he should be relishing another visit to TPC Potomac.
Lingmerth showed when he won The Memorial in 2015 that he can win when in no kind of form coming in and to this end even if he had done nothing at the Travelers last week he would have been on my radar this, however the fact that he closed with a 66 for his best finish on tour this calendar year has to be a positive.
As you would expect for a man who’s been having a poor season all of Lingmerth’s stats make pretty grim reading this year however they all showed vast improvement at TPC River Highlands last week and my hope is that he can take that forward this week when returning to a course he clearly loves.
ANDREW PUTNAM – 66-1 –1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED 27th
For my next pick this week I am going to stick with a player who was due to be in our team last week before he withdrew in the form of Andrew Putnam.
Having scoured the internet I have been unable to find a specific reason for Putnam’s withdrawal last week regarding any injury or personal issues, so the assumption is that either he was under the weather or that he simply felt it better to have another week of rest before getting ready to ‘go again’ for a busy summer.
Either way the fact that he was in the committed field for this week last Friday tells us it was nothing too serious.
To be honest I am now going to basically insert below the same write up I had for Andrew last week before his withdrawal as all of the points remain valid!
Putnam is yet to win on the PGA Tour, however based on his form of late you would think that it is only a matter of time before he does so.
Andrew is currently on a run of seven consecutive made cuts in his last seven stroke play events and during this time he has notched up three top ten finishes including a 2nd place last time out at the Fedex St Jude.
In Memphis Putnam found himself basically in a two horse Sunday race with world No 1 Dustin Johnson and understandably he showed a few signs of nerves before coming up short.
There is of course no disgrace in this though and you have to think he will have learnt a lot from this experience that he will put to good use next time he is in the hunt.
It is also worth noting that Putnam is a two time winner on the Web.com tour so he does know how to get the job done.
With regards to course experience at TPC Potomac Putnam finished 27th here in 2013 when the course was used on the Web.com tour so he has some experience here. He is also of course a vastly improved player to what he was back then.
I have noted earlier that based on the leaderboard we had at the end of last year’s edition it would appear that good tee to green play will be a big help this week and therefore the fact that Putnam currently sits 10th on the PGA Tour’s 2017/18 GIR stats is encouraging.
Putnam is clearly striking the ball well and in the form of his life.
I am therefore optimistic he can continue his roll from Memphis and go close to grabbing his maiden tour win this week.
RORY SABBATINI – 100-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED MC
Regular readers will know that I have been keen this year on the possibilities of the South African Rory Sabbatini returning to the winners enclosure and the fact that he is a former course winner at Avenel leads me back to him again this week.
Obviously this win came way back in 2003 and as I noted earlier the course underwent major renovations in 2007, however he can’t but help get some positive vibes from a return to the course and the area.
Other than the return to Maryland the main thing to like about Rory this week is the really solid play he has been producing this season.
Until his missed cut at the Travelers last week Rory had not missed a cut in an individual stroke play event on tour this calendar year.
TPC River Highlands has not been a particularly strong hunting ground for the South African of late so the missed cut there does not put me of this week and of course it does add a bit of juice to his price.
Rory has been undoubtedly knocking on the door this year and I my hope is that a return to a scene of a past win will inspire him to deliver a really strong performance this week.
DENNY McCARTHY – 100-1 - 1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED MC
As I mentioned earlier I like to throw in a left field selection when I see an opportunity and our final pick this week is one such occasion as I find myself siding with Denny McCarthy for the first time in his short PGA Career to date.
My reasoning for the pick is pretty simple really in that McCarthy was born in Takoma Park, Maryland, less than 20 miles from the site of this week’s event.
Whilst McCarthy now resides in the golfing mecca of Jupiter, Florida he is a three time Maryland Open Champion and a two time Maryland State Amateur Champion.
Later this year the inaugural Denny McCarthy invitational will be held on the Mid Atlantic PGA Tour at Argyle CC in Silver Spring. This is the course that McCarthy is affiliated to and is basically about 20 minutes away from this week’s venue.
Clearly therefore he still has very strong ties to the area and indeed on his twitter page the first thing he states on his profile is that he is a Maryland native.
Now I will confess that I have no inside knowledge as to how well Denny knows TPC Potomac but I can’t help but think he’ll have had plenty of opportunity over the years to play the course and outside of the majors you have to think that this is the one event he would have been desperate to tee it up in on his maiden PGA Tour season.
Outside of the ‘local connection’ there is also plenty to like about how McCarthy has settled in to his first year on tour after a slow start.
Since missing seven of his first nine cuts on the tour this season the University of Virginia grad has only missed one cut in his last eight starts, with the highlight being a top 5 in the Corales Puntacana event back in March.
He had a really solid week at the Fedex St Jude to finish in the top 20 and was well positioned after three rounds in his latest start at the Travelers before fading slightly on Sunday to finish 47th.
Despite his disappointing finish at TPC River Highlands Denny finished the week in the top 20 in both DA and GIR so he is clearly hitting the ball well at the moment.
In addition Denny was 2nd on the Web.com tour in putting last year and sits 18th on the PGA Tour this season in SGP so clearly he is strong with the flat stick.
We all know of course that a ‘home game’ can go one of two ways with players and that sometimes it can have an adverse effect. However there are many documented occasions of players being really inspired to play well in areas where they have strong connections and indeed I was on Billy Hurley III when he won this event back in 2016, buoyed on by a local following.
To be honest I had hoped for something a little bit bigger than the 100s on offer for 7 places and I can only assume that the bookies have latched on to his strong local connections.
However I do like his chances this week and I am therefore happy to roll the dice in the hope that McCarthy will be inspired to a big performance by what I am sure will be a strong local support.
UPDATED 26th JUNE - TRADER FINISHED 48th - BEST PRICE TRADED 46
When looking for a trader this week in the 200+ bracket I was mainly focusing on finding a player who is strong from tee to green and Sam Ryder fits that bill.
The 28 year old Floridian made his way on to the PGA Tour via a hugely successful 2017 season on the Web.com tour, which included five top 5 finishes, with the highlight being a victory at the Pinnacle Bank Championship.
After a very slow start to his maiden PGA Tour season Sam came to life in April with a top 5 finish at the Houston Open.
Since then he has continued to struggle however he played solidly at the Travelers last week and closed with a 64 on Sunday to notch a 26th place finish.
As I say the main thing that attracted me to Ryder this week as a trading proposition is that he currently sits 31st in DA and 8th in GIR on the PGA Tour season and these are attributes which should stand him in good stead this week.
My hope therefore is that Sam can build on his closing round at TPC River Highlands and deliver a strong performance this week.
CURRENTLY TRADING 220+