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Fantasy Preview: 2018 Quicken Loans National

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Only four of the top-30 players in the Official World Rankings are in action this week for the Quicken Loans National at TPC Potomac. That’s because the majority of the worlds best either decided to rest or play the European Tour’s HNA Open de France at Le Golf National, which is the site of this year’s Ryder Cup. Tiger Woods is back in action this week, however, as he continues his impressive 2018 comeback at this event where he plays host.

Despite measuring just 7,107 yards, TPC Potomac is anything but easy. In fact, it played as one of the most challenging stops on Tour last year. The reason for this is mainly due to the extremely tight fairways, which are imperative to find if you want to have an opportunity to score. Don’t expect to see many drivers hit off the tee this week, as most players will prioritize accuracy over distance. In 2017, Kyle Stanley defeated Charles Howell III at TPC Potomac in a sudden-death playoff after both men had posted 7-under par in regulation.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Rickie Fowler 13/2
  • Tiger Woods 12/1
  • Marc Leishman 18/1
  • Francesco Molinari 22/1
  • Kyle Stanley 22/1
  • J.B. Holmes8/1
  • Charles Howell III 28/1

With a field desperately lacking in depth, it’s time for Tiger Woods (14/1, DK Price $11,000) to capture PGA Tour title No. 80. Woods is a clear second favorite in the betting this week, yet he is third behind Fowler and Leishman in DraftKings salary. I believe he should be first in both.

Woods won’t have to hit many drivers this week, just like at the Valspar Championship where he came so close to winning. Tiger can lean on his stinger off the tee, which gives him an advantage over the rest of the field. Ball striking is going to be critical this week, and Woods has not disappointed in this area since his return. Over his previous 24 rounds, Woods ranks third in Ball Striking and first in Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green. His approach play has been particularly impressive as of late. Over his last 12 rounds, he sits first in the field for Proximity to the Hole.

Woods ranks first in the field over his last 24 rounds for Strokes Gained-Total on golf courses measuring less than 7,200 yards. With his iron play looking imperious, all the signs point to a big week for him. The one doubt is Woods’ putting, which has been a little ropey as of late. Performance on the greens is liable to unpredictable changes in variance, however, and I don’t expect Woods to continue to falter in this department. In a weak field, and on a golf course that will benefit his excellent iron play more than most, this is an outstanding opportunity for Tiger Woods to re-enter the winner’s circle, and it’s one I believe he will take.

Finding value in the middle of the board this week is a challenge, but Gary Woodland’s (50/1, DK Price $8,100) salary of just $8,100 looks to be very cheap. Woodland has struggled since he won the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier in the year, but over his last two events, he has shown signs of promise. In these two events, Woodland has gained over eight strokes for his Approach Play. With approach shots likely to be the key to success this week, this bodes very well for the long hitter.

Woodland has performed well on shorter golf courses through his career. Over his previous 50 rounds, Woodland ranks fourth in the field for Strokes Gained-Total on golf courses that are less than 7,200 yards. Woodland has also played competently on challenging golf courses recently. The Kansas native ranks 17th in the field over his last 24 rounds on golf courses where the scoring is difficult relative to par. With his irons sharp and his game slowly coming back into form, Woodland is underpriced and offers a lot of value this week.

He’s made 16 out of 17 cuts this season, and what might be the weakest field of the year, Rory Sabbatini (DK Price 100/1, DK Price $7,400) offers plenty of value at just $7,400. Sabbatini ranks 25th for Strokes Gained-Total over his previous 24 rounds, and he is more than adept at playing tough golf courses well. Over the same period and on golf courses where scoring is difficult relative to par, Sabbatini’s Strokes Gained-Total takes a jump up to 16th in this field.

Sabbatini also has an outstanding record on par-70 golf courses. Over his previous 24 rounds, Sabbatini sits eighth in this field for ball striking and third for Strokes Gained-Total on such courses. TPC Potomac should be a good fit for Sabbatini, and he looks a more reliable choice than others in his salary range.

As for bargain hunting this week, I like the look of Fabian Gomez (200/1, DK Price $7,100) at just $7,100. Gomez has been quite a reliable performer this year, making eight of his last nine cuts on Tour. He is coming off his best finish of the year at the Travelers where he bagged a top-20.

Gomez gained 6.6 strokes Tee to Green over the field at the Travelers last week, which was his sixth-best performance in this category of his career. The Argentine also enjoys short golf courses and sits 32nd in this field for Strokes Gained-Total on courses less than 7,200 yards over his previous 12 rounds. His immediate form is good. He’s ranked 19th for Strokes Gained Total over his last eight rounds, and he is worth taking a shot on this week at the low price.

Recommended Plays

  • Tiger Woods 14/1, DK Price $11,000
  • Gary Woodland 50/1, DK Price $8,100
  • Rory Sabbatini 100/1, DK Price $7,400
  • Fabian Gomez 200/1, DK Price $7,100
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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: Aguila Golf Course in Phoenix, Arizona

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member evgolfer, who takes us to Aguila Golf Course in Phoenix, Arizona. The course sits at the base of South Mountain, offering up some stunning scenic mountain views, and in his description of the track evgolfer praises the fair test that the course offers up to players of all levels.

“I love it because the price is always right as a City of Phoenix municipal course. The conditions are usually fairly decent. Also, the course presents a fair challenge to me as a high handicapper and still appeals to low caps. It is easily walkable. Not surrounded by houses, not overly tight or cramped. Designed by Gary Panks. Not overly penal.”

According to Aguila Golf Course’s website, in peak time, an 18 hole round can be booked for $29, with the rate rising to $44 should you wish to add a cart. While, off-peak the price drops to $34, which includes a cart.

@TheHectorRios

@VernonLorenz

@HSTuscon

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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Opinion & Analysis

This stat indicates Tiger Woods will win major 15 in 2019

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For Tiger Woods’ fans, it’s been over 10 years waiting for his 15th major victory. Even with PGA Tour win No. 80, plenty are already looking ahead to next year’s major.

Looking into Tiger’s performance at the majors in 2018, and more recently the PGA Championship, there’s exciting news for his fans. Tiger briefly held the lead at this year’s Open Championship, only to finish in a tie for sixth. But, it’s his performance at the PGA Championship, when he stormed home for second place thanks to a final round 64, and the recent statistics behind that tournament, that will get his legion of supporters brimming with confidence.

Going back to 2015, strong performances at the PGA Championship have proven to be a great form line for the following year’s major winners. In fact, if you go back further into the records, it extends for several years prior as well. Let’s take a look at recent PGA Championship results and the players that emerged from those performances that lead to major victory the next year.

The 2017 PGA Championship was one of the strongest forms lines in recent years. Justin Thomas won the tournament by two shots, but Patrick Reed, and Francisco Molinari tied for second. Reed went on to win this year’s Masters and Molinari won the Open Championship to capture their first major championships.

At the 2016 PGA Championship, Jimmy Walker surprised the field with victory, but an emerging talent in Brooks Koepka finished tied for fourth and would go on to secure his 1st major in 2017 by winning the U.S. Open. Interesting, Patrick Reed and Francisco Molinari were also just outside the top-10.

The 2015 PGA Championship was won by Jason Day, but current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson finished tied for seventh. Dustin went on to win his first major, the U.S. Open, the following year at the Oakmont Country Club. Also worth noting: Jordan Spieth finished second to Jason Day and went close to winning the Masters the next year only to finish in second place.

Fast forward to this year’s PGA Championship where Tiger finished second behind Brooks Koepka. Is it a sign that his 10-year major drought could end in 2019? And don’t forget, if Tiger has a great chance in 2019, then surely players that finished around him in that tournament, such as Adam Scott, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland, must have high hopes for 2019 too?

All this is true and only time will tell if the tournament form line stacks up.

Anyway you look at the 2018 PGA Championship results, it’s a great form line for 2019, and Tiger could well be in the mix in the big ones next year. With his body coping well with the rigors of the tough PGA Tour circuit, Tiger Woods’ fans can be feeling good about his chances for the 2019 season.

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: Boulder Creek Golf Club in Streetsboro, Ohio

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member JimGantz, who takes us to Boulder Creek Golf Club in Streetsboro, Ohio. Just 30 minutes from downtown Cleveland, Boulder Creek features over 100 feet of elevation changes, and when you look at the photos of the course, it’s easy to see why this track landed in our hidden gem thread. JimGantz gives us a concise description of the course, praising it for its nice blend of different hole types.

“Conditions are always top notch. Fluffy bunkers, thick-ish rough.  Staff are super friendly. Good mix of long and short holes which is something I like. I’m not a huge fan of playing a course where every par 3 is over 200yds. This track mixes it up.”

According to Boulder Creek Golf Club’s website, 18 holes with a cart from Monday-Thursday will set you back $40, while to play on the weekend costs $50. Seniors can play the course for as little as $25 during the week.

@BoulderCreekOH

@amgolferblog

@troymezz

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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