Tiger Woods is back in action this week in what will likely be the final installment of the Quicken Loans National, as this tournament will move from its current home outside Washington, D.C. to the Detroit area starting next season.
This event, which is hosted by Woods and benefits his foundation, features one of the weaker fields of the year—the winner will receive only 34 Official World Golf ranking points, the second-fewest of any non-opposite field event on the PGA Tour in 2018 (only the Byron Nelson awarded fewer). For some context, the winner of the European Tour's French Open will take home 48 points.
But for as weak as the field is, the golf course is equally strong. TPC Potomac played as the toughest non-major track of last season, as the scoring average was 1.458-over par. A relatively weak field paired with a testing golf course may give Tiger his best chance yet to pick up his first win with a fused back.
Here's everything you need to know about this year's tournament.
The golf course
Located about 18 miles northwest of the White House, TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm is a private course that originally opened in 1986. It hosted the perpetually mobile Kemper Open (later the Booz Allen Classic, now no longer existing) from 1987-89, then again from 2000-2002 and twice more for good measure in 2004 and 2006. The course and clubhouse then underwent major renovations and reopened in 2009. Since then, TPC Potomac has hosted the 2010 Senior Players, two Web.com events and was the site of last year's Quicken Loans as well.
The 7,139-yard, par-70 layout is one of the most difficult on the PGA Tour. The course features narrow fairways and penal rough, as well as green complexes that are guarded by bunkers aplenty and dense rough. Hitting fairways will be a premium this week, as it will be virtually impossible to hit these greens otherwise. In that sense, play will be somewhat major-esque, as will scoring—Kyle Stanley won at seven-under last year and the cut was four-over.
As mentioned previously, the weakest non-opposite event field in this calendar year. Rickie Fowler is the only top 10 player in the field, and Marc Leishman and Francesco Molinari are the only other guys ranked in the top 20 who will compete. Meanwhile, the likes of Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood and Alex Noren and Sergio Garcia are all teeing it up in France.
Most eyes on this side of the pond, however, will be on Tiger Woods, who is making his first start since missing the cut at the U.S. Open by shooting 78-72 at Shinnecock. Woods, who has struggled mightily with his putting in his last couple events, has been using a new mallet-style Taylormade Ardmore 3 in practice rounds. It's certainly jarring to see Woods hold anything besides that trusty Scotty Cameron, and we'll have to wait to see if he goes with the mallet once the tournament begins on Thursday.
Other notables in the field: Kiradech Aphibarnat, defending champ Kyle Stanley,Beau Hossler, Gary Woodland, Chesson Hadley, Jimmy Walker and Byeong Hun An.
A full list of tee times can be found here, but here are a few notable groupings (all times EST):
Jimmy Walker, Billy Horschel, Stewart Cink - 8:20 a.m.* Thursday/1:20 p.m. Friday
J.B. Holmes, Ollie Schniederjans, Kiradech Aphibarnrat - 8:44 a.m.*/1:44 p.m.
Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler, Chesson Hadley - 1:08 p.m./8:08 a.m.*
Marc Leishman, Bill Haas, Tiger Woods - 1:20 p.m./8:20 a.m.*
* denotes 10th-tee start.
2017- Kyle Stanley
2016- Billy Hurley III
2015- Troy Merritt
2014- Justin Rose
2013- Bill Haas
2012- Tiger Woods
2011- Nick Watney
2010- Jusitn Rose
2009- Tiger Woods
2008- Anthony Kim
2007- K.J. Choi
Rickie Fowler +700
Tiger Woods +1200 - Woods has won this event twice, but both times were at Congressional
Marc Leishman +1800
Francesco Molinari +1800
Kyle Stanley +2000 - Defending champ has quietly had a strong season, up to 38th in OWGR
Charles Howell III +2500 - Top 25 machine finished second in this event last year
J.B. Holmes +2500 - His glacial pace of play has been the subject of much debate
Jimmy Walker +3000 - His admission to "backstopping" has been the subject of much debate
Beau Hossler +3000 - Second last week at Travelers, overdue for breakthrough win
Kiradech Aphibarnrat +3000 - With one win, this fan favorite will become a superstar
Joaquin Niemann +3000 - Three top-8 finishes in seven PGA Tour stars this year
Kevin Na +3500
Byeong Hun An +3300
Patrick Rodgers +4000
Chesson Hadley +4000
Gary Woodland +4000
Jamie Lovemark +4000
Andrew Putnam +5000 - Took second in his last start at the FedEx St. Jude
David Lingmerth +5000
Kevin Streelman +5000
Si-Woo Kim +5000
Picking golf tournaments is hard, they said. Lightning doesn't strike twice, they said. Hogwash, I say.
After successfully picking Brooks Koepka to win the U.S. Open, we kept the block hot last week by also calling Bubba's victory at the Travelers. If you'd have placed $10 on each of those players before the respective tournaments, you'd have netted $460.
Now, regression to the mean would suggest that the guy I pick this week is going to miss the cut. To that I say: Yeah, probably. But let's give it a shot anyways.
Beau Hossler finished tied for second last week at the Travelers, but even more important than that was his performance on Sunday. The former Texas Longhorn, who has struggled on weekends this year, fired a final-round 66 after posting a solid 68 on Saturday. He's had plenty of chances to pick up his maiden PGA Tour victory this year, but his substandard play down the stretch has gotten in the way. That 68-66 will do wonders for his confidence. Hossler is the next 20-something poised for a breakout win, and he'll employ his trusty draw to keep it in the fairway this week. Hossler picks up his first PGA Tour victory.