The First Tee – Quicken Loans National – by Adam Daly

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff June 27, 2017 15:20

The First Tee – Quicken Loans National – by Adam Daly

After an exciting Traveler’s Championship, Congressional Country Club members decided they’d rather not host the Quicken Loans event – it will play at Congressional every two years – so instead there’s yet another new course in the rotation, TPC Potomac. Quicken Loans National has a much weaker field than the Tour has seen over the last few weeks, with only one top-10 (Rickie Fowler) and two top-25 golfers (Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed), but it’s a smaller than normal field size of just 120 which puts the Stars & Scrubs lineup construction very much in play. This week will be all about finding the right statistics to use at a new course, and finding the right value plays.

The Course

TPC Potomac at Avenel Farms (formerly TPC Avenel) has hosted PGA tournaments in the past, but not since it underwent renovations in 2006 after players’ complaints about the course were addressed, so course history has no factor this week. Since the renovation TPC Potomac has hosted some Web.com events (as well as the Seniors PLAYERS Championship), and both Web events featured fairly low scoring: David Lingmerth won here with a -8 in 2012, and Michael Putnam won with a -7 in 2013. The cut was +2 (’12) and +3 (’13), so expect a harder test than TPC courses usually offer.

Listed at 7,139 yards as a par-70, this course is longer than last week’s Traveler’s, and features bentgrass greens – formerly zoysia, this was changed to bent after the course underwent renovations in 2009.

Because of the lower elevation on the course, the 7,139 listed yards are actually shorter than it plays – it’s fair to mentally add 100-200 yards to the total distance of the course (about ~10 yards per hole). Potomac offers lots of blind tee shots into tight fairways, so accuracy off the tee will be a key. The TPC style is very Pete Dye-ish, so look for other Dye courses as good comparison tests : Harbour Town, Hilton Head, etc.

The other test off the tee will be the bluegrass and fescue rough that sits just off the fairways; the PGA Tour has the rough listed as being three inches, so ending up in the thick stuff will make approach shots very difficult.

The key approach distance this week will be 175-200, as six par-4s are listed above 450 yards and driver will generally stay in the bag with the tightness of the fairways. The only two par-5s will be tough tests, as the second hole sits at a whopping 619 yards so a long iron in will be the only way to reach in two, while the 10th is only 560 yards but hazards sit on the left side of the fairway on approach. Laying up and clubbing down will be the theme of the week, with par being a fairly good score.

Once on the greens, golfers will face undulating bentgrass greens that slope back to front, so holding will be a challenge on approach if the weather stays dry. The greens are listed on the PGA Tour as 12.5 on the stimpmeter currently, but expect them to be slightly slower than the official number – overall putting skill has proven to be slightly more important on fast bentgrass when compared to other grass types, so although it’s highly variable week-to-week it will be more impactful here.

Stats

Unfortunately with it being a new course, there’s no past history to look at statistical correlation, but from looking at the course design, these seem to be the most effective stats to look at :

The Strokes Gained stats to focus on in order (not including Tee to Green):

  • Off-The-Tee
  • Putting
  • Approach
  • Around the Green

Counting stats to focus on in order:

  • Bogey Avoidance
  • Approach Shots 175+ Yards
  • Greens in Regulation %
  • Driving Accuracy
  • Par-4 Scoring
  • Birdie or Better %

 

The Golfers

Rickie Fowler ($12000) – It will definitely be tough to make a lineup this week that features Rickie taking up a whole 24% of the salary cap, but he’s far and away the best golfer in this field and also has the statistics needed to win this week. He will no doubt be extremely chalky, so it’ll be imperative to find some lower-owned value plays, but he’s more than worth his price tag:

  • T19 in Driving Accuracy %
  • 10th in Bogey Avoidance
  • T35 in Driving Distance

He does struggle a bit in the 175-200 yard approach range, but if he dials back his driver and uses a wood or even a long iron off the tee, Rickie is a top-10 golfer both in the 200-225 range as well as in all ranges above 200 yards. He currently sits 12th in SG: Approach, and will have no problems getting to the green in regulation.

Once Rickie is on the green, there are few that can compete with his great season, hitting a massive 43.69% of One-Putts (4th) and sitting 7th overall in Strokes Gained: Putting. Much like Spieth last week, the advice is to eat the cap and the chalk and just watch the birdies drop.

Value picks (below $7500):

  • Smylie Kaufman ($7000) – The LSU product has been having some success recently, with four top-35 finishes in his last six official events, and has better form off the tee than his overall ranking suggests. Kaufman still struggles to find the fairway with the driver, but should easily get there if he clubs down, and he’s above average from the 175-200 range which is a big plus this week. He’s a risky play given the year-to-date, but he’s been hitting approaches and putting better recently.
  • Zac Blair ($7000) – On any course where accuracy matters more than distance, Blair has to be considered; the little Mormon hits 68.85% of fairways (15th) but struggles with longer distances – luckily with long approach shots (above 200), he’s 46th on Tour and 20th from 200-225. He’s not without his flaws, but he gains strokes on the greens, scores very well on par-3s (four of them on this course) and averages only 4.02 on par-4s.
  • Luke List ($6900) – In a glorified Web.com or fall swing season event, Luke List tends to be a must-play. For a bomber, he’s had a surprising amount of success at shorter tracks with narrow fairways, and is the best in the field on approaches above 200 yards. His Adam Scott-esque putting is the only reason he hasn’t won everything he plays, and that will definitely impact him in a negative way yet again – but on a course where a lot of the field won’t be pouring birdies or getting to the greens, he’ll typically have a chance to two-putt for par at worst.

The Fade

David Lingmerth ($8500) – One of the few in this field with course history, the Swede won here back in 2012 when it was a Web.com event, and will garner some ownership just based around that. Unfortunately, where his game is currently is nowhere close to what’s needed to succeed again, beyond his lights-out putting. Lingmerth struggles finding the fairways and doesn’t hit it long, and given how much he struggles on long approach shots, that sets up as a very bad combination. Avoid this chalk bomb.

Good luck this week! You can follow me on Twitter @adalyfrey if you have any questions, and my DMs are always open

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff June 27, 2017 15:20

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