Quicken Loans National Preview, Picks & Analysis

By: | Mon 26 Jun 2017 | Comments


It was at the 2016 Quicken Loans National that Jon Rahm announced his arrival upon the PGA Tour. He didn't win, but he came from nowhere to record a stunning third-place finish behind winner Billy Hurley and veteran Vijay Singh. Rahm will be making his debut on the European Tour this week, and many of his rivals will be thankful for that as he seems to have been in contention just about every week since that performance. 

Justin Rose won this tournament in 2010 and again in 2014. It was won in 2011 by Nick Watney, by Tiger Woods in 2012, by Bill Haas in 2013, Troy Merritt in 2015 and last year by Billy Hurley. It is being played TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, Maryland, which measures 7,139 yards and is a par 70, and is the first time the course has hosted a PGA Tour event since 2006. The course was redesigned and re-opened in 2009. It was modified further in 2015 when the seventh, 13th and 16th greens were renovated and other improvements were made to the fourth and 18th green and fifth and sixth fairways.

Potomac was universally unpopular among PGA Tour players but the course is almost unrecognisable this time around.

Haas, the 2013 champion, was also in the mix 12 months ago before eventually finishing alongside Rahm, four shots behind Hurley. Haas is surely one of the most underrated golfers. He seldom misses cuts and rarely plays poorly. Every time he walks off a golf course, he can put his hand on his heart and say that he has given it all he has.

His first year on the PGA Tour was 2006, when he finished 99th on the money list, making 19 out of 30 cuts. He kept his tour card for the 2007 season, but missed eight cuts in his first 13 events. He started to turn his form around late in the year but was lucky to hold on to his playing privileges, finishing 104th, the same position he claimed the following season.

It was in 2009 that the son of PGA Tour veteran Jay began to feel at home, with four top 10 finishes. He ended the year 61st on the year-end money list, winning just under $1.5m and it kick-started his career.

At the start of the 2010 season Haas won his first PGA Tour title at the Bob Hope Classic, a week after taking some swing advice from father and his uncle, Bob Goalby, a former Masters champion. The victory earned him his first appearance at Augusta and in October he added a second title, winning ther Viking Classic by three shots. 

And, in truth, he has not looked back since. In 2011 he won the Tour Championship and, with it, the FedEx Cup and a bonus prize of $10m. It saw him finish the season in seventh place on the money list and secured him his place in Fred Couples' Presidents Cup team.

Now comfortable at this level, he won the Northern Trust Open in 2012, beating Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. And so his progress has continued. In June 2013 Haas claimed his fifth PGA Tour title with a win at the AT&T National at Congressional, one of the toughest courses on Tour.

And two years ago along came win number six, this time at the Humana Challenge (previously the Bob Hope Classic). It marked a return to form and fitness after struggling for most of 2014 with a fractured wrist.
 
Haas is overdue another success. He has a wonderful temperament, never losing his cool and always grinding away even when struggling with his golf swing. His biggest strength is his ability on and around the greens, and all the signs are that the changes at Potomac will suit the tall American.
 
After his heroics at the US Open, Justin Thomas is also sure to attract a huge following. American golf is blessed with a vast amount of talented young golfers at present, with the likes of Patrick Reed, Daniel Berger, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka all looking like they could dominate the game for years to come. However, it is just possible that Thomas could be the best of the lot. He is not afraid to go low - witness his 63 at Erin Hills and his astonishing 59 in the first round of the Sony Open in January.
 
We often talk about golfers with no weaknesses, and Thomas certainly fits that category. There may not be much to him, but he spends a lot of time in the gym, is ripped and, quite frankly, he hits the ball into the middle of next week and beyond. When Spieth first burst upon the scene, the world struggled to grasp just how good a putter he was. Thomas also has a happy knack of being able to will the ball into the hole when it really counts. Although he played some fabulous golf shots during the third round of the US Open, it was his putter that he had to thank for that sublime 63. He is also fortunate enough to possess a wonderful imagination.
 
Thomas will be winning tournaments for many years to come and when he gets into a run of form, as he is right now, everybody else had better look out.
 
The tournament was won 12 months ago by Billy Hurley. It is supported by the US military, and Hurley's win was an especially emotional one as he is a former naval reserve officer. That victory came as a surprise to everybody, including Hurley, but it would be no shock to see him in contention once again.
 
To Win: Bill Haas. Law of averages says he is due
 
Each Way: Justin Thomas. Impossible to ignore
 
Each Way: Billy Hurley. An emotional week
 
Fantasy Picks
 
Bill Haas. Class act in every respect
 
Justin Thomas. Just a great golfer
 
Billy Hurley. Will arrive with good feelings
 
Martin Laird. The Scot needs to find some form
 
Harold Varner. Gutsy little American
 
Chris Kirk. Due a good tournament
 
Brendan Steele. Underrated
 
Marc Leishman. Playing with total self-belief
 
Chez Reavie. Keeps knocking at the door

Rickie Fowler. Hard to ignore


Tags: PGA Tour FedEx Cup


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