After week of not watching golf, I am ready to dive back in with the Nappy Factor on my side.
I welcomed my daughter, Posey Elizabeth Culp, into the world on Wednesday night and watched just one clip of the entire Travelers Championship (Spieth’s bunker hole out to win the playoff).
I’m less than a week into dad life, but it’s easy to see how priorities shift when golfers (or anyone) becomes a father for the first time, and how it could potentially lead to an uptick in performance based on mindset alone. Hopefully, that works for fantasy golf, as well. I don’t have many hours of sleep or research on my side this week, but the Baby Swag is seeping off my keyboard. No wait, that’s just spit-up.
With a somewhat new course on tap this week, I would generally spend hours doing research to break down the course on a granular level. Instead of diving too deep, I’m going to instead focus on the basic details we do know and look at some correlated events that may help, as well.
The course is TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, previsouly TPC Avenel, which hosted the Booz Allen Classic nearly 20 times. The course was a short, par 70 with poa annua greens but it underwent a complete overhaul in 2009, so I won’t put much emphasis at all on those past results. The course received fresh bentgrass greens and zoysia on the fairways (we’ve seen zoysia in Rio and Memphis).
With previous winners (pre-renovation) including Justin Leonard, Steve Stricker, Ben Curtis, Stuart Appleby, and Bob Estes, it’s clear that distance is not required but it’s never a bad thing to have distance, though, as Adam Scott and Rory Sabbatini proved during their wins here.
The venue has also hosted the Mid-Atlantic Championship on the Web.com Tour in 2012 and 2013. David Lingmerth and Michael Putnam won those events but the 2012 edition was played in the fall with temperatures barely cracking the 50s during the final round. The next year it was played in early June which should play closer to this week’s conditions.
Speaking of weather, the current forecast calls for upper-80s/low-90s this week so performance in hot weather should be given a look.
While I’m not weighing course history very much, if at all, I do think event history still deserves a look. Playing in this region of the country seems to be a good skill to have as Ben Curtis is an Ohio native and David Lingmerth won the Memorial in Ohio. Some good results in the Northeast region is certainly a good thing to have on your resume if you want to succeed in the D.C. area.
That is the trend trend for the correlated courses I picked out this week: TPC Boston, Muirfield Village, Firestone CC, TPC River Highlands, and The Barclays are all events I would group into the same region. I will also have a look at TPC Southwind because of the zoysia connection as well as the Greenbrier Classic for proxmity reasons, as well.
Have a look at the Fantasy Golfanac to check out which angles I will target this week and scroll down to the bottom for a link to a tremendous course description from Golf with Phil Sokol.
Players to Watch
Rickie Fowler… Leads the betting market this week and it’s for good reason. He’s beat the field average by 6 or more strokes in 8 of his last 10 starts leading up to this week. That includes five top-5 finishes. The only argument I would find against him is the “only playing this event due to sponsor’s obligations.” That is easily dismissed when you see he is 2-for-2 since Quicken Loans took over sponsorship duties, including a runner-up finish in 2015 (different course).
Kevin Chappell… Sometimes a maiden win opens up the door for a slump but Chappell remains dialed in, gaining 20.7 strokes over the field in his four starts since winning. The biggest weapon remains his approach game which has been money since his return to the old clubs just before the Masters. Another top 30 should be in the cards this week.
Bill Haas… If we think distance is muted this week, than Haas becomes a major factor on my board. With top 25s in each of his last three starts, he’s definitely worth a look.
David Lingmerth… He won the Web.com Tour event played at this course, so we know he’ll have a leg up to begin with over much of the field (at least confidence wise). Even if it was in much cooler conditions. He is also a course horse at Muirfield Village, a closeby venue with bentgrass greens and loads of long par 4s just like TPC Potomac. It’s early on Monday, but the hype train is already in full gear on Lingy, meaning he may become fadeworthy in DFS formats due to him getting talked up a bit too much. A good high-upside play on paper, though.
Nick Watney … Has made 9 of his last 11 cuts without really cracking the radar for most gamers. If one of our correlated events is the Barclays, Watney has four top 10s at that event including a win.
Billy Hurley III… Playing the role of defending champ for the first time in his career. It may be a good thing that the course is different this year, because they removes a bit of the pressure to repeat. Still, he brings the local angle which is why he’s thrived so frequently in this event. In his career he has nine finishes of T8 or better on the PGA TOUR, and THREE of them have come at the Quicken Loans National. Sure, those all came at Congressional, but I still think he’ll have a nice level of comfort this week, playing so close to home.
Keegan Bradley… Another golfer from the Northeast, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he found his way back into contention last week in Cromwell, Connecticut. His track record at the WGC-Bridgestone is through the roof, posting five top 20s including a win, in five tries.
Danny Lee… Not sure when the engagement happened, but I saw Lee recently found himself a girl he wants to spend the rest of his life with. I was dismissing his form before last week because both of his good recent finishes came in the Dallas area, right in his backyard. But now with top 10s in three of his last five starts and his personal life appearing to be in a good place, I am on board. His lone win on TOUR also came at the Greenbrier, less than 250 miles from this week’s venue.
Si Woo Kim… Grades out as an elite course fit, as you’ll see when my Search for a Specialist article goes live on Rotogrinders this week (usually Tuesday night). His long-term stats grade out as wonky as you can find, but that’s largely due to him playing through injuries and withdrawing when the game/back doesn’t show up. That should be less of a factor now that he’s locked up his TOUR card for quite some time. The results show, as he’s gained 5+ strokes over the field in three of his last four starts. I wouldn’t throw him in a cash game on FanDuel or DraftKings due to his high WD-rate, but he’s definitely a high-upside GPP pick to conisder.
Jimmy Walker… If we think Zoysia fairways are unique enough to matter, than Walker should get a boost. His home course has zoysia from tee-to-green, of course his schedule has been calm lately as he tries to recover from Lyme Disease. That keeps him in the GPP-only category for me.
My Top 25 for the 2017 Quicken Loans National
1. Rickie Fowler
2. Bill Haas
3. Patrick Reed
4. Marc Leishman
5. Tony Finau
6. Justin Thomas
7. Kevin Chappell
8. Brendan Steele
9. Byeong Hun An
10. Ollie Schniederjans
11. Bud Cauley
12. Danny Lee
13. Billy Horschel
14. David Lingmerth
15. Graham DeLaet
16. Billy Hurley III
17. Kyle Stanley
18. Si Woo Kim
19. Keegan Bradley
20. Ben Martin
21. J.B. Holmes
22. Grayson Murray
23. Jason Kokrak
24. Daniel Summerhays
25. Jimmy Walker