Tournament: Quicken Loans National, June 29-July 2
Course: TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, 7,139 yards, par 70 (about half an hour outside Washington D.C.)
Defending Champion: Billy Hurley III. The Naval Academy graduate had been somewhat of a journeyman, but grabbed the lead and held off all sorts of challengers. His closing stretch included a ptich in and a long birdie putt to seal the deal.
Fun Fact: This was the site of the old Kemper Open, and if you grew up watching TV golf in the 1980’s, this will be nostalgic (though the course has been significantly revamped). This particular tournament moves to different venues, using Congressional Country Club in even numbered years and other local courses in odd-numbered years.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 3:30-6:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6:30 p.m. (CBS).
Former 'Dawgs in the Field ( Four ): Harris English, Chris Kirk, Russell Henley, Hudson Swafford
If your giddiness over Coach Kirby Smart’s recruiting prowess has not yet abated and your significant other is asking friends for elephant tranquilizers, I’ve got just the thing to calm you down. Tee Vee Golf. And not a major, not a playoff event, just a run-of-the-mill PGA Tour stop with very few of the world’s top golfers in attendance. Jim Nantz, Bill Macatee, and Peter Kostis will regale you with historical flashbacks and future projections all while mostly ignoring the tournament being played in front of them.
Sorry folks, but the truth does sometimes sting. The US Open was 2 weeks ago, the British Open is 3 weeks away, and those will seemingly be more compelling than this week’s Quicken Loans National. If the tournament host was in attendance, then it would be a completely different story. Because the tournament host is none other than Tiger Woods, possibly the greatest golf talent and the most dominant pro golfer in history. But Tiger has some health problems and will not be attending.
That doesn’t mean it won’t be fun for those of you (like me) who still dig golf in any form. This is a classic track which hosted a PGA tournament for years before finally getting the needed facelift and some other improvements over the last decade. If you’ll notice, it is playing at par 70. Matter of fact, about half of the courses played on the PGA Tour are now playing at less than par 72. This is because of the prodigious length that today’s players are hitting the golf ball, rendering par 5s to longish par 4s, par 4s to driveable par 3s, and par 3s to mid and short irons. If the course doesn’t have more real estate to develop to keep the boys at bay, they simply lessen the par to prevent scoring records from falling faster than carrots placed in front of Jim McElwain’s mouth.
This is a perfect tournament to gain valuable FedEx Cup points while the world’s best are on vacation. And we have a few boys who could use a boost.
Harris English. He’s 103rd in FedEx Cup, and 110th in the world. He’s made over $720k this season, but has missed 5 of his last 10 cuts. He needs to steady the ship a bit and get on a run.
Chris Kirk. After missing 5 of 6 cuts, he’s made 4 of his last 5, but two of those were essentially last place. He’s 80th in FedEx Cup, which is somewhat comfortable to make the September playoffs, but is guaranteed little else.
Russell Henley. He’s 18th in FedEx Cup points and 55th in the world, so he’s safe for Round 1 of the playoffs and likely Round 2. Afer winning at Houston in April, he tied for 11th at the Masters and tied for 27th at the US Open. So he seems to be in good shape.
Hudson Swafford. He’s 28th in FedEx Cup so he’s also comfortable inside the necessary top 120 at season’s end. But after consecutive top 10s leading into the Masters, his finishes are cut, T32, T49, cut, cut, cut, cut, T66. Yep, he too could benefit from a strong finish against a theoretically weaker field this week.
This is basically a holiday weekend, and with Independence Day at the forefront, and the course so near our nation’s capital, you will see plenty of military presence for honoring and red, white, and blue for celebrating. But you’ll also see some Red & Black, and I’m grateful for that as well.
And as always...