The Quicken Loans Invitational Preview
First off, I was very happy to see Dustin Johnson finally break through and get his first major at Oakmont over the weekend. For my money, there aren't many other players on Tour with half as much raw talent as him, and I expect him to win multiple majors over the next few years now that he's finally got the monkey off his back.
This week the stop is in Bethseda, Maryland for 'Tigers Tourney', the Quicken Loans Invitational at Congressional Country Club. The Blue Course measures 7,569 yards, and features some very long par 4's. Length will be very key this week, and I will be avoiding shorter hitters off the tee almost entirely. There are six par 4's that are longer than 465 yards, an the par 5 9th hole measures 639 yards! The greens are very slick, often running as some of the fastest on tour, and the rough is punishing, sound familiar? It won't be as penalizing as Oakmont was last week, but it's a similar setup. This is a ball striker and bombers paradise, so I will be targeting players in good tee to green form, and hope their putters can keep up.
Justin Rose was the winner in 2014, the last time this tournament was at Congressional, but he won't be in the field this week. There are 19 of the top 50 in the Fed Ex Cup Standings in attendance, including Patrick Reed, Kevin Chappell and Justin Thomas.
Key Stats for Congressional G&CC
With Congressional being so long, there wasn't much surprise that there was a huge correlation to driving distance (DD) and success here. Four players who finished T5 or better in 2014 also finished inside the top 50 in driving distance that year. Robert Garrigus made the picks this week, and he has historically driven the ball very well here, with an average drive of 316.6 yards in his seven trips to Congressional, best all time for anyone in the field with multiple appearances. Next, par 4 scoring (P4S) proved very key in 2014 as well, with three players inside the top 3 also finishing that season inside the top 25. Garrigus, Charley Hoffman, Lucas Glover and Bill Haas are all players teeing it up this week that have historically scored very well on Congressionals par 4's. As it usually is, birdie or better percentage (BoB%) cracks the key stats list this week, which is one reason why I really like Patrick Reed. In two trips to Congressional, he has a birdie or better percentage of 22.9%, very solid on a tough track. Over his last eight events this year, he also has a birdie or better percentage of 21.0%, and his putter hasn't heated up for him once. If that changes this week, he has a great shot to be in the winners circle.
Top Pin Seekers
Rickie really excels at driver heavy courses, and although his recent form has been really bad, I like his chances at bouncing back this week. Also plays very well on Bentgrass greens, get back on the Rickie train this week $3 GPP Ownership Guess: 15-20%
As mentioned above, Reed is still making a ton of birdies even with a cold putter. Leads the tour in top 10's this season and finished 11th here last year $3 GPP Ownership Guess: 10-15%
4/4 in cuts made at Congressional and is in good form right now, ignore the missed cut in his last outing. Racking up birdies in his last seven events (21.% BoB%) and will be able to use his length to mitigate a lot of trouble. $3 GPP Ownership Guess: 5-10%
Hoffman is in great form and has never missed the cut at Congressional, with a third place finish here in 2014 as well. Has gained an impressive 4.568 strokes tee to green on the field in his seven starts here (via Fantasy Golf Metrics) $3 GPP Ownership Guess: 3-8%
Middle Tee Plays
Kevin Chappell - DK Salary $9,400 - the win is coming, never missed the cut here - top 50 in BoB% & P4S
Russell Henley - DK Salary $9,000 - crushes driver courses and bentgrass greens , 7th in last start - top 45 in DD & P4S
Bryson DeChambeau - DK Salary $8,800 - in good form right now, making a lot of birdies, if the putter catches up with the tee to green game....
Tony Finau - DK Salary $8,500 - take Finau at long tracks and off of bermuda greens, in great form before Open MC - 1st in DD
Jason Kokrak - DK Salary $8,300 - 3rd here in 2013, in decent form - 6th in DD
Jamie Lovemark - DK Salary $8,200 - great all around game will play well here, five straight made cuts - top 25 in three key stats
Charles Howell III - DK Salary $8,200 - favorite play of the week, great value, in great form - top 30 in three key stats
Robert Garrigus - DK Salary $8,000 - this weeks 'horse for the course' with three top 11's in his last four starts here - also in good form - top 55 in DD & BoB%
Adam Hadwin - DK Salary $7,500 - seven straight made cuts - 44th in BoB%
GPP Dart Board Dreams
Jon Rahm - DK Salary $7,300 - nice 23rd finish at US Open, good price for his upside
Harold Varner - DK Salary $7,100 - in great form with seven straight cuts made - top 30 in DD & BoB%
Hudson Swafford - DK Salary $7,000 - very good on driver heavy courses, five straight made cuts, 11th here in 2014 - top 40 in DD & P4S
Patrick Rodgers - DK Salary $6,900 - plays wells on long and driver heavy tracks, made cut here in 2014 - top 25 in DD & P4S
Smylie Kaufman - DK Salary $6,700 - not in good form, game sets up great for this track if he's figured it out - top 30 in DD & BoB%
Lucas Glover - DK Salary $6,500 - forget the MC at the Open, good price and upside - top 35 in DD & P4S
Johnathan Vegas - DK Salary $6,200 - 4th here in 2012 - 16th in DD
Bud Cauley - DK Salary $6,100 - plays very well on Bentgrass greens, made 3/4 cuts at Congressional
Luke List - DK Salary $5,800 - 8th in DD