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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Quicken Loans National - Preview

The Quicken Loans National (formerly AT&T National) is next up on the schedule and will take place at Congressional Country Club. Make no mistake about it, Bill Haas' title defense will be overshadowed by the return to action of Tiger Woods for the first time in almost four months. Worth an early mention, Tiger admits that he is very rusty and is taking a step out of his comfort zone in an attempt to play his way into form. Translation: He wants to the play the Open Championship but doesn't want to go into it without taking any live bullets.

Congressional Country Club is a par-71 layout that stretches to a massive 7,569 yards. While it has just three par 5s, it also offers three par 4s that are 489 yards or longer, so expect length to play a part this week. Congressional served as the host from 2007-2009, and again from 2012-Present. It did not host in 2010 and 2011 due to the U.S. Open taking place at Congressional in 2011. For course-history buffs, focus your attention on the five years Congressional hosted the Quicken Loans National as well as the 2011 U.S. Open.

While we are on the topic, here are the past winners and runners-up dating back to the event's conception in 2007. Note the course played to a par of 70 in the first three years.

  • 2007 - K.J. Choi (9-under 271) over Steve Stricker (274)
  • 2008 - Anthony Kim (12-under 268) over Freddie Jacobson (270)
  • 2009 - Tiger Woods (267) over Hunter Mahan (268)
  • 2010 - *Aronimink GC - Justin Rose (270) over Ryan Moore (271)
  • 2011 - *Aronimink GC - Nick Watney (267) over K.J. Choi (269)
  • 2012 - Tiger Woods (276) over Bo Van Pelt (278)
  • 2013 - Bill Haas (272) over Roberto Castro (275)
Several things stand out. For starters, there has never been a playoff. Second, there has never been a tie for second. Something about this tournament has a way of separating the field at the top. 

Looking back at the ShotLink data from the last few years, things like GIR and SGP stand out as critical to success, but the guys putting up the gawdy SGP numbers aren't players thought of as elite putters. It almost becomes a tournament of which elite ball-strikers get hot with the flat stick. That makes handicapping this a bigger guess than normal, but the good news is that length will eliminate some guys right off the bat. 

I will likely focus my research on driving distance, GIR, SGP, par 4 scoring average, par 3 scoring average and will throw in some sort of stat to capture long-iron play. 

We will return tomorrow with our usual Power Ranking. Until then, happy research. 

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