Quicken Loans National, TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm
The PGA Tour will move to Potomac, Maryland for the Quickens Loans National. The host for the second year running will be the TPC Potomac at Avnel Farm, a relatively short 7100+ yard Par 70. It ranked 4th in terms of difficulty on the PGA Tour last season and can become particularly brutal if the wind starts to pick up.
Water is in play on 8 holes off the tee so being accurate with the driver is going to be key. The Course also underwent a major remodel during which the width of the fairways was reduced significantly. Reports from this week also suggest that the rough is pretty thick, so missing the fairways is going to be costly.
The greens and fairways are Bermuda grass. The current weather forecast suggests that Thursday might be windy but the rest of the days will be mild. The Wolf recommends taking a closer look at the weather forecast on every day of the tournament because that can make a huge difference to the scoring difficulty.
Kyle Stanley won the tournament here last year and that is going to be the most relevant result to focus on because this tournament was being held at the Congressional for seven years before last year. The field is a little smaller at 120 when compared to the regular 156. There are a few good names that will be playing this week like Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods but the overall strength of the field is weak.
Winning this tournament requires players to be very accurate off the tee. Just hitting the fairways may also not be enough as the approach to the greens is better from certain places than others. There has been some rain around and so the Course is playing a little soft at the moment but it is expected to firm up.
This means that accuracy will be even more of a premium. The Par 4’s will be the place to take the opportunities and making the minimum mistakes might just be as important as being aggressive. Players will have to weigh the moment to attack very carefully.
Stats the Matter
The Wolf will be weighing the following stats for this week:
- Ball Striking
- Par 4 Scoring
- Bogey Avoidance
Kyle Stanley won the tournament last year in a playoff against Charles Howell III after both the players had registered a score of 273 (-7) for the entire tournament. The Wolf thinks that this year as well the score should be somewhere around the same mark to win the competition.
Kyle Stanley was 3rd for Driving Accuracy, 1st for Greens in Regulation, 26th for Putts per Green in Regulation, and 29th for Driving Distance.
The Wolf’s favorite for the Quickens Loans National 2018 is also the bookmakers favorite, Rickie Fowler at $7.50. Rickie Fowler is clearly among the best golfers in this field and the course suits his game very well as well. He has been putting in some excellent rounds of golf but not being able to challenge for a win because of a few bad days. He finished T20 at the U.S. Open, was T8 at the Memorial, and T14 at the Fort Worth Invitational before that.
Rickie Fowler’s stats are also very encouraging this week. He is 5th in Par 4 Scoring, 18th for Ball Striking, and 4th for Bogey Avoidance. The Wolf thinks he is very close to a win and this week might be it.
For the Value pick this week, the Wolf is backing Charles Howell III at $26.00. The Wolf thinks this is an excellent price for a player that has been in relatively good form over the last few weeks and has good course history here. Howell came very close to winning this tournament last year eventually losing in a playoff. He also had a good week at the U.S. Open on a course where most of the storied names struggled.
His ability to do well at tough courses will stand him in good stead here. Howell is 10th for Bogey Avoidance, 31st for Par 4 Scoring, and 34th for Ball Striking. He has been hitting the ball well, is extremely accurate, and can get hot with the putter.
For the long shot, the Wolf is going with Kevin Streelman at $41.00. A tough course, a weak field, and a set up that could favor Streelman are the factors that make this an interesting punt. The fact that he is available at $41.00 is not bad either. Kevin Streelman has done well at this course in the past and finished 17th here last year.
He is also one of the most accurate golfers off the tee. The distance he gets off the tee or the lack of it will not be an issue at this course. Streelman is 4th for Ball Striking, 9th for Par 4 Scoring, and 3rd for Bogey Avoidance. These are some excellent stats and point to a real betting opportunity being present. The recent form for Kevin Streelman has been okay with a T7 at the RBC Heritage and a T8 at the Valero Texas Open being the highlights.