The PGA Tour is making its way down to Potomac, Maryland to TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm for the second year in a row. The course for this week’s event, The Quicken Loans National, will be a Par 70 that plays right around 7,100 yards. The course features just under 90 bunkers and seven water hazards. TPC Potomac played as the fourth most challenging course on Tour in 2017 as the field averaged nearly 1.5 strokes over par. A good bit of that difficulty stemmed from the Par 4 11th hole that played as the most difficult Par 4 on Tour last year at +.521 to par, yielding just 23 birdies all week. Since there’s little course history at this track, we don’t have much to go off of, but there were some trends that we can take away and hopefully apply to this year.
While we are making assumptions based on just one event at this course, it appears that accuracy off the tee was beneficial last time around. Of golfers that finished in the Top 10, only two were inside of the Top-20 in distance while six hit that criteria in accuracy. According to Fantasy National, the fairways here are slightly harder to hit than average, but not by much. Strokes Gained: Off the Tee is a more prudent stat to target for success here as it is nearly twice as strong at predicting DK Points compared to Driving Accuracy.
As far as ball-striking is concerned, accuracy on approach is paramount to success again this week. Golfers that finished in the Top 25 overall averaged just over 48 greens hit for the week. The winner, Kyle Stanley, hit 55 greens en route to his victory at TPC Potomac. Given the difficulty of the course, tournament finish position is very closely tied to DK Point scoring this week. No one, not even Stanley last year, managed to shoot all four rounds under 70 last season. This week will be a difficult test of the field’s all-around game so target iron play when picking your lineup this week.
Expensive Golfers ($9,500+)
One way or another, everyone’s eyes land on Tiger Woods ($11,000). The price is a steep one this week, but given the strength of this field, I wouldn’t get too scared strictly off of that. He missed the cut at the US Open by just two strokes after playing the first hole at 5-over between the two days. Through those two days, he hit 20-of-28 fairways but just 16-of-36 greens which was a departure from his form heading into Shinnecock. That was his first missed cut since the Genesis Open, and he can keep up with the Rickie Fowlers ($11,700) and Marc Leishmans ($11,200) of the world when he’s on. He won’t be in my cash lineups but is worth exposure if you’re building multiple lineups for GPPs.
Kyle Stanley ($10,200) is the defending champion at this event. While people may have suffered a bit chasing back-to-back wins with Daniel Berger in Memphis or Jordan Spieth in Connecticut, Stanley is an attractive option this week. We can usually bank on Stanley’s tee-to-green game, but even his putting has been on recently. He’s averaging 2.6 Strokes Gained: Putting over his past five events, a significant departure from his career average of -1.7 strokes gained.
Mid-Range Golfers ($9,500 – $7,500)
Gary Woodland ($8,100) went through a stretch this year where he missed four cuts in a row. He seems to be finding his game again as he’s made two cuts including one at Shinnecock Hills. Woodland has been consistently gaining strokes off the tee all year long, and his irons are coming back to him. Couple that with the fact that he’s 20th in SG: Par 4 (450-500 Yards), of which there are six on this course, and we have a solid play in the low $8,000 range for GPPs. Woodland has a win already on Tour and has shown DK Scoring upside in the past.
Joaquin Niemann ($9,000) and Charles Howell III ($8,900) are right next to each other in salary this week. Niemann is an ultra-talented kid that has already shown upside with three Top Tens in his young pro career. Unfortunately, his other three starts since the Masters have resulted in missed cuts. While Niemann is basically a walking GPP, I prefer Howell in cash. Since the beginning of 2018, Howell has missed just one cut. The course fit is there for him this week, and there’s no reason to think he doesn’t make the cut in a field of this strength.
Stewart Cink ($8,500), on the other hand, had his second straight Top 5. Cink’s putter finally turned around and helped him climb the leaderboard, but his ball-striking was there as well. Over the past two events, he’s 5th in DK Points. Cink is a worthy play in all formats this week.
Cheap Golfers ($Sub – $7,500)
This is a prime bounce-back spot for a couple of golfers who missed the weekend up in Connecticut and got a head start on their way to Maryland. Rory Sabbatini ($7,400) had made 15 cuts heading into last week. He was essentially neutral on approach but lost over 4.5 strokes through his short game in just two rounds. CT Pan ($7,300) was on a streak of made cuts as well heading into the Travelers but missed the cut with his game just being a hair off. We should see more of what we were getting used to seeing from these two golfers in 2018 as opposed to what we saw last weekend.