Winner’s Share – $1,170,000
Course – Robert Trent Jones GC (7,385 yards par 71) – New Course
Our 2014 Picks – Jason Day (MC), Nick Watney (T30), Hunter Mahan (T24), Angel Cabrera (T24), Shawn Stefani (2nd)
Another week down on the PGA and everything is really hotting up ahead of what we think we will be a fascinating Presidents Cup and FedEx Cup finale. Yes Jordan Spieth is quite a bit ahead of others, but the 2nd string are beginning to really crowd up now – there is just a couple of decent finishes from Bubba Watson right through to 16th place Brooks Koepka and that is exciting. But everyone is going to have to take advantage when the golden boy isn’t playing and Jason Day did just that last week, now it’s the turn of Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and Jimmy Walker to have their say (can we say Tiger Woods still or…?)
Undoubtedly they’re the 3-pronged superstars spearheading the field this week but taking them out the equation and we have a fairly ordinary line-up to stick our claws into.
The Quicken Loans National 2015 (in association with the Tiger Woods Foundation) is generally a top event that has attracted some pretty impressive winners in recent years – Rose and Tiger have won it twice, whilst Bill Haas, Nick Watney, Anthony Kim and KJ Choi have all picked up the trophy as well.
At the time of their wins, they were all in the higher bracket of players and some of that definitely has to do with the courses they were playing on. Congressional is a US Open track, whilst Aronimink has hosted majors from amateur through to Senior. But we will not be on either track for the 2015 edition, because we’re moving to a beautiful course in Virginia called Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.
Absolutely no prizes for guessing who designed it though, but the man who brought us Congressional, Firestone, Spyglass Hill and Hazeltine among a whole host of others, stated that this was one of his finest. And that is really saying something.
The 7, 385 yard Par 71 is a typical Jones course. Meandering round Lake Manassas in Gainesville, water is brought into play on 9 holes, making accuracy instantly a thought to ponder.
We’ve seen a lot more death-defying tree-lined fairways across the season, but there are still plenty to to make everyone think off the tee, especially with the strategically placed bunkers dotted around (and the water of course!) The greens are large and characteristically undulating, making them tough reads and at times, very pacy.
It’s imperative that the guys get their eye in during the practice rounds to work out the better pin positions to attack and where the uphill putts are. If the rain comes as forecast however, the fairways and greens could hold up the ball, making it target practice for those who are on it tee to green.
We are basically looking for those that can hit the ball a relatively fair distance, but have a decent Total Driving combination, ball strikers and longer iron gurus, because of the three Par 5’s and four Par 3’s that await. If you can scramble, that of course is a bonus…!
All in all, this will be a debut PGA Tour event for Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, but it does have experience of hosting big events, having been the home to the Presidents Cup on four occassions – 95′, 96′, 2000 and 2005. Some useful insight there if you fancy having a cheeky gander.
So, after Brian Harman decided a collapse (he shot a clear worst 76) on Saturday was necessary having been 1 behind the leader, let’s hope for slightly more this week…
Will Wilcox (60/1 Coral)
It’s unusual for our headline act to be at such high odds, but with the top 3 priced out and us not really fancying the chasing pack, Will Wilcox is someone that has a big appeal this week.
First of all his form far exceeds that of his price. Just look at those at higher odds – Bill Haas (33’s) has missed 3 cuts in a row, Justin Thomas (30’s) has one top 10 in amongst a best of T54 in 2 months, whilst Tiger (40’s) has, well, we’d rather not say.
Then we jump to Wilcox, 2 top 10’s in a row and some low shooting to boot. Last time out he finished 2nd outright at the Barbasol Championship (runs alongside The Open) which ironically was held at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail – another course that filled the great man with pride and joy…
Before that he finished T8 at the John Deere and if you look at his individual rounds, he has shot below 70, 16 out of his last 20 outings. That dates back to May.
So Basically this lad is in good knick and whilst we understand he’s yet to win on the PGA Tour, he’s proven he can handle the pressure by winning on the Web.Com and it’s only his 2nd year in the big time.
Plus, he simply suits the stats perfectly. 5th for Total Driving (59th distance, 16th accuracy), 6th GIR, 3rd ball striking, 50th strokes gained putting and just for good measure – 7th for scrambling. If he can continue his form and shoot as well as he did on another Trent Jones favourite, we could be in for a right treat this week..
Jason Bohn (50/1 various)
Now, Jason Bohn is a slightly different player to Wilcox in that he lacks the same sort of distance with the driver, but tee to green, you cannot argue they are strong candidates and should suit this sort of track.
He lies in 4th for driving accuracy and 42nd in ball striking, which proves he is imperious at finding fairways and greens alike.
His form has been impressive over the past couple of weeks as well – T12 at the John Deere, which included a final day 64 and T13 at the Greenbrier which included a ridiculous 61. His performance on the Sunday was the difference between a win and where he ended up, but it does show he’s hitting the ball well and scoring freely – plus it was his lowest ever career round and put him back in that leading position again. More lessons learnt.
No denying he hasn’t had a win since 2010, but the Greenbrier should give him some confidence back, and he showed that with his following performance, so this feels like a good week to jump on the American, especially in an average field.
Johnson Wagner (66/1 BetVictor)
Johnson Wagner is another mid-ranger who fits most of the bill and is playing some pretty decent golf at the moment. After losing out in a playoff at the Shell Houston Open, he went on a horrific run of 6 missed cuts in 7 outings.
But he seems to have genuinely turned that around now, making 4 cuts in a row, including 3 top 18 finishes and even a T5 at the John Deere. He was very much in contention again last week in Canada, but fell off at the weekend with a couple of average rounds. Much like Wilcox though, his individual rounds have been very impressive – 11 of his last 16 outings, he’s shout 68 or below – that isn’t bad going at all..
He is decent across the board stats wise as well, 69th total driving, 18th GIR, 36th ball striking and 71st strokes gained putting, plus he is 47th for approaches from 200 yards +.
Very encouraging and don’t forget, he is a 3-time PGA Tour winner…
Stewart Cink (80/1 various)
Oh my have we not been here several times throughout the season? A sort of refusal on our part to admit that Stewart Cink may not win again. There are many who have fallen in similar displays of sorrow before and there’ll be many more to come. But since that 2009 Open victory, we haven’t truly seen the best of a truly quality player.
So, why on earth are we going there again? Well, firstly, he is still an iron guru – 4th GIR, 70th ball striking – and he has the sort of game that could do well. Plus, he is one of a very limited number of guys who have actually played tournament golf here. He was part of the victorious American teams in the Presidents Cup back in 2000 and 2005. In 00′ he won all 4 of his points on offer and whilst it wasn’t as smooth sailing in 05′, he still came away with 1 ½ points to his name.
Finally and potentially most crucially, he would of actually won us all some money last week…! A T5 finish in Canada will surely give him the world of confidence coming into this event, especially having finished with a 66.
He also recorded an impressive T20 at The Open, so you cannot argue that he’s in good knick. Why not ey?!
Retief Goosen (100/1 various) and Jim Herman (200/1 BetVictor)
A couple of cheeky outsiders to consider this week, coming in the form of Retief Goosen and Jim Herman.
Firstly, we’re going to check out the Hermanator. His form hasn’t been particularly mind-blowing, but an intriguing T22 finish over in Canada last week made up our minds to back the 37-year old with a few spare coppers.
He is back on the Tour after graduating again last year and is the sort of player who could do well here – 18th Total Driving, 5th GIR, 6th Ball Striking and 18th in approaches from 200 yards. The ol’ saying applies here – ‘Why not?.’
Then we have the Mighty Goose. (poor pun there for any fans of a certain Ice Hockey film…Poor)
Much like Cink, we’ve gone there a few times with the South-African, but we’ve actually reaped a few rewards and recently as well. He grabbed us a decent return in his T4 finish over in Germany at the BMW a few weeks ago. He played some decent golf to put himself in contention, shooting a 69 and 67 to close the tournament. He was inside the top 10 for GIR across the 4 days, which is hardly a surprise, so doubled with the fact he also managed T20 at The Open, we mutter those words once again. ‘Why not?’ PLUS he turned up at The Presidents Cup as well, winning 4 ½ points out of a possible 5 in 2005, including a 2 and 1 win against Tiger, whilst he managed 2 out of a possible 4 in 2000. He certainly knows the track…
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