Quicken Loans National
Robert Trent Jones Golf Club
Robert Trent Jones Golf Club
Par: 71 (36-35)
Greens: 6,000 square feet on average
Stimpmeter: 12'+ knowing Tiger's hatred of slow greens
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass and fescue at 3.5"
Water Hazards: Lake Manassas and two ponds
Course Architect(s): Robert Trent Jones (1991)
Purse: $6.7 million
Winner’s Share: $1.206 million
FedExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Dates: July 30 - Aug 2
Notes: 120 players invited; stroke play; low 70 and ties play the weekend
Notes II: Players who hit the top 10 last week will be eligible the next open event, the Barracuda; no Monday qualifiers.
Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker (twice), Bill Haas, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day (twice), Brandt Snedeker, James Hahn, Padraig Harrington, Alex Cejka, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth (four times), Matt Every, J.B. Holmes, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Chris Kirk, Steven Bowditch, David Lingmerth, Fabian Gomez, Bubba Watson, Danny Lee, Scott Piercy and Zach Johnson are the 29 winners of calendar 2015. Hahn (No. 297), Harrington (No. 297), Cejka (No. 285), Every (No. 96), Bowditch (No. 137), Lingmerth (No. 212), Gomez (No. 283), Lee (No. 158) and Piercy, No. 112, are the only players outside the top 70 OWGR to win this year.
After 28 wins in 45 events last season the USA has won with Snedeker, Koepka, Haas, Walker (two), Reed, Hahn and Johnson, Spieth (four), Every, Holmes, Furyk, Fowler, Kirk, Watson, Piercy and Johnson in 2015.
Cejka, Harrington, Day, Rose, McIlroy, Bowditch, Lingmerth, Gomez and Lee make up the rest of foreign legion who have won in calendar 2015. They join Sang-moon Bae (Korea) and Nick Taylor (Canada) from the 2014 as the international winners.
After 13 first-time winners in 2013 there were only 10 last year. Through 38 events in 2015, Hahn, Koepka, Martin, Streb, Taylor, Cejka, Lingmerth, Gomez and Lee have broken their maidens.
The only multiple winners this season on TOUR are Watson, Walker, Day, McIlroy and Spieth. The young Texan is the only player besides Tiger Woods this century to have won four times in a season. Let that set in.
Robert Trent Jones, as the story goes, found this piece of land in northern Virginia and declared it the finest he'd ever seen. He decided that he would build a golf course to match and the RTJ Golf Club broke ground in the late 80s. Upon opening in 1991 the Club has been known for its pristine setup, beautiful backdrop against Lake Manassas and the total golf experience away from the unwashed masses of everyday life. No wonder why Woods thought this was a good idea!
The course itself has hosted dignitaries from Washington, D.C., and from around the golfing world. In 1994, 1996, 2000 and 2005 the Club hosted the Presidents Cup where the U.S.A. took home the trophy each time. There are nine players from the US and International teams in the field this week. Any course history is better than zero course history so I'll take that with a grain of salt in my assessment. The last Cup was 10 years ago and the course will have changed a bit in that time frame as it matures.
This is the first TOUR event on these grounds so players will have to get familiar with the surroundings as quickly as possible. The fairways will encourage the big stick off the tee but the heavily bunkered, perched greens will demand precision iron play. The water of Lake Manassas affects the players as well as nine holes run adjacent to the water and No. 11 requires a full carry over it. The greens were dialed up for Presidents Cup play but won't hit that kind of crazy level for a regular TOUR event. We know Woods' disdain for slow greens so I doubt they'll run the Bentgrass any less than 12' on the Stimpmeter this week. The bunkers have all been recently replaced so they'll be easier to play out of and will look nice on the television to boot.
Since this is the TOUR's first trip here, the ball-strikers should have the advantage over the putters. Most everyone will be seeing/reading/judging these greens for the first time this week so the advantage that a premium putter has is somewhat negated. I'm looking for guys in form who have taken their games everywhere and are worried about making birdies instead of cuts. This isn't a classic course in the sense but it's from a classic designer so I wouldn't expect a pushover. With Woods being in charge around here, a birdie fest would be the last thing he would like to see at this point. I'm going to wager that par is a decent score this week but I'm just as curious as gamers to see how this is set up.
First time on TOUR
2014: Justin Rose (Congressional)*
2013: Bill Haas (Congressional)
2012: Tiger Woods (Congressional)
2011: Nick Watney (Aronimink)
2010: Justin Rose (Aronimink)
Facts and Figures
This will be the third course to host this event in five years. Next year the tournament moves to TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm next year.
Justin Rose is the only multiple winner at multiple courses.
Woods is the only multiple winner at Congressional.
Bizarre Stat(s)of the Week:
No boats or watercraft are allowed on Lake Manassas.
This Will Win You a Bar Bet
Only one hole on the course, No. 11, requires a full carry over open water.
In order, these are the players that I believe project the best this week (Yahoo! group in parentheses).
Justin Rose (B): He's the class of the field this week and moves right to the top. The Englishman was T2 at Augusta before winning at Zurich. He lost in a playoff at the Memorial before T27 at the U.S. Open and T6 at St. Andrews. He's proven his versatility by winning this event at Congressional and Aronimink so another "new" venue shouldn't bother a man in form.
Rickie Fowler (B): In his last six events worldwide he's thrown up three pairs: WIN-WIN, T30-T30 and MC-MC. Gamers will lament his T30 at St. Andrews and MC at Chambers Bay but two wins in six worldwide answers more questions that his major performances create. He'll embrace the challenge of a fresh track this week and will be looking for win No. 3 on the year.
Will Wilcox (C): Grip it. Rip it. Play fearlessly. That's what I learned from Wilcox as he finished second alone at the Barbasol Championship in his native Alabama his last time out. He holed two massive putts down the stretch to claim second including a monster on the final hole. He has his card for next year thanks to his T8 at JDC and that solo second. He's a statistical dynamo so these results are hardly flashes in the pan. His only statistic outside of the top 50 in the composite ranking? Driving distance at No. 57. He's No. 1 on TOUR in the all-around category. He remarked on Twitter not to worry about his WD at the RBC as his sore wrist just needed a week of reset. I'm buying.
Pat Perez (C): He's 16 for 17 in 2015 and continues to fill up the stat sheet each week. In eight of his last 10 he's finished T26 or better so I'm buying consistency this week. He's a veteran who's seen enough tracks in his day to embrace the RTJ layout and keep his very steady 2015 rolling along. His game is well balanced and so are his results.
Jimmy Walker (B): If the fairways are as large as they look Walker will be a contender this week. He's 42nd GIR and first in SGP so the more greens he hits, the more chances to make birdie. Walker is 15th in the all-around and ninth in scoring average. I'll ride his class over his current form on a course not many have played.
Danny Lee (C): Before MC at St. Andrews he racked up T25-WIN-T3 so to say he's on fire would be accurate. He's 25th in the all-around and has always carried an excellent putter plus he's an excellent bunker player.
Justin Thomas (C): Gamers will need to remember that he broke a T55-MC-MC-T54 with T5 and a 36-hole lead last time out at the JDC. He's 20th in scoring average and sixth in the all-around ranking. It doesn't hurt he's 22nd in strokes gained: tee-to-green. His putting average is fifth so don't get wrapped up in his SGP numbers.
Tony Finau (C): Loved the way he bounced back after MC at JDC with a closing 65 last week when not much else was going right. Gamers love him because it seems he can drop 65 at any moment and get right back into the mix no matter the track. His length is his biggest asset and iron play isn't bad either. He's racked up 14 top 25s in 18 weekends and that's gold in our world. #UtahMafia
Jason Bohn (C): His career-year at 42 has been impressive and gamers who have jumped on board have reaped the benefits. He's played the weekend in six of his last seven and four of those have resulted in T13 or better and five are T29 or better. Playing out of the middle of the fairway has its advantages and he's posted 61 and 64 in his last two events. Form isn't the issue!
Johnson Wagner (C): His streak of 14 rounds in a row in the 60s came to a halt on the weekend last week but he held it together for his third straight top 20. The Virginia Tech alum should have a nice cheering section this week and always plays well in this part of the country. His putter has been on fire so he'll be happy to see slicked up greens, if that is the case. Guys usually run hot for around four events in a row so I'm going back one more time!
David Lingmerth (C): Those who just glance at his recent results will see WIN-T64-T6-T74. Those who take the time to look will see he's only had two rounds over par in that stretch and one of those was Monday at St. Andrews. He won at a tough Memorial over Justin Rose in a playoff and should be rested after taking last week off.
Daniel Summerhays (C): Backed up his T8 at JDC with a 68-67 weekend and T11 at the RBC last week. His 73 to open last week didn't dissuade him and he played the final three rounds 12-under. He's 27-under in his last two events and his best career finishes have been in the month of July. His putter has carried him the last two events and that's a nice club to have on fire.
Russell Knox (C): His WD from the Travelers was put firmly in the rear-view mirror after T10 at the Scottish Open. His run of eight tournaments of making the cut, when not WD, was broken at his first trip to St. Andrews so I'm not holding that against him. His last two weekends before that were T8 in Memphis and T10 in Scotland. He's 26th in fairways and 10th in GIR and that plays almost everywhere.
Shawn Stefani (C): He's played five of his last six weekends and has three top 20s during that stretch. He would have added another but he blew up for 76 in the final round at the JDC. Stefani resides in the top 20 in ball-striking, all-around, birdies and scoring. He's also in the top 50 in SGP so there's plenty to like. He'll have good vibes entering the week as he finished runner-up here last year to Rose at Congressional.
John Senden (B): After a quiet spring the Aussie ball-striker has heated up with the weather. He MC in four of five events ending with the Zurich but since has rattled off eight of nine worldwide which includes three top 10s.
Stewart Cink: OK, I'll bite. He's played here in the Presidents Cup and he's put together back-to-back weeks in the top 20 for the first time in some time. He'll benefit from the wide landing areas this week just like he did in Canada where he was T5.
Andres Romero: With only two rounds over par in his last 18 it's hardly a wonder why he's rattled off T14-MC-T6-T10-T34. Here's to one more bullet in the gun and hopefully his countryman Cabrera showed him some shortcuts around RTJ before teeing it on Thursday.
Chris Stroud: Broke up a four tournament run with MC last week in Canada. Some gamers dismiss a guy after MC but I'll point out that his Friday 68 was four-under; it was his Thursday 75 that set the bar too high. That 75 was his first over-par round in 16 tries so his form is of no concern to me. He should probably be higher up the column.
Greg Owen: I'll lean on his very solid iron play and hope his putter returns from the ice in Canada where he MC. He was T6 at Greenbrier and T20 at The Open Championship in his two prior starts and that works in a field like this.
Steven Bowditch: He's posted three bad rounds since the end of May and was just four shots out of the lead entering the final round at St. Andrews. If he keeps the ball on the planet and gives his putter a chance to get rolling he'll make another return to the top 25 this week. Four of his last five finishes have been T30 or better.
Scott Langley: Make it six on the bounce and the last five are all T35 or better. He was T16 at Barbasol and T22 last week in Canada.
Ricky Barnes: The run is now at eight consecutive rounds under par. Barnes was in it with a shout at Barbasol before an even-par back nine saw him claim T3. The bogey-bogey finish didn't help his checkbook that week either. Do people still have checkbooks? Anyhow, he jumped right back on it last week in Canada with T11 from playing from the short grass. I'd point out that the Barbasol was at a RTJ design but you already knew that, right?
Chad Campbell: Hard to ignore the 36-hole leader from last week who went to finish T11. That was his sixth weekend in a row and fourth top 28 finish. That's form.
Vaughn Taylor: He was T10 at Barbasol and has played eight of nine weekends on TOUR this year.
Andy Sullivan: He's hit the top 30 in five of his last seven worldwide.
Ollie Schniederjans: Trying to hide him down here for one more week but the cat is out of the bag on this kid. He can really play and has no interest in wearing a hat so our gofundme account has been suspended. He showed his T12 at St. Andrews wasn't a fluke with his T22 last week at RBC. Not bad for a first start as a pro.
James Hahn: He's quietly gone T6-MC-T11 in his last three and that qualifies as form in a field of 120. The MC was The Open Championship so I'm not holding that against him.
Bryce Molder: He's played eight of his last nine weekends since the first week in April. The more greens he finds the more chances to wield his trusty putter. He'll be another hoping they get the greens going as slick as possible.
Horses for Courses
Here are the nine guys who have participated in Presidents Cups here over the years. I don't think this is a major factor this week but I'll let you decide.
Long Shots, Forgotten Names, Etc.
Daniel Berger: After his T10 at Byron Nelson, the rookie hit the wall with three consecutive MCs. That's his worst streak in his maiden season. He's MC in four of his last six as well but a week off after two weeks in Europe should have him rested and refocused.
Cameron Percy: I joked last week that my OAD was PERCY not PIERCY but the joke was on me when Scott MDF. Percy played his sixth full weekend in his last six starts and his T18 was his third top 20 in that span.
Michael Putnam: I hope I'm not a week late to this party as his last three in July have been T60-T28-T11.
Chad Collins: He leads the TOUR in scrambling and is top 20 in sand saves and total putting. He has just two rounds over par in his last five events.
Sam Saunders: After beginning July with MC he's posted T44-T32-T22 in his last three and 11 of the 12 rounds have been par or better.
Erik Compton: His horrific summer finally broke at RTJ Trail with T39, his first weekend in five events. He backed that up last week with four rounds under par to finish T11 in Canada.
Billy Hurley III: Half of his top 10s last year were in DC and West Virginia. He was also T4 in this event in 2012. The Virginia native and Navy man is playing his personal major this week.
Scott Pinckney: He's pocketed three top 25s in his last six and is playing with the house's money sitting No. 68 in FedExCup standings in his rookie year. Super putter.
Brian Stuard: He's pocketed three top 25s in his last six as well but sits at No. 121 in the points race. He could use another to give himself breathing room.
Anyone who has MC in multiple events in a row. You know who they are. No need to pile on.
Man with His Own Section:
Tiger Woods: Is this week? Not for me. I'm not sure what value he has remaining for gamers as he's not eligible for the WGC-BI at a course he's won a million times. He's not eligible for anything besides Whistling Straits at the moment so a play of desperation is nothing but that: desperate.
Rookie/Up-and-Comer of the Week Last Week
Once called the “Jordan Spieth” of the week, I had to retire that name after his last two seasons on TOUR. Now, we’ll keep a broad view of newer names/faces that gamers should pay attention to as the season moves on. Some former examples in this column include Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed and Chesson Hadley.
Shriners: Finau, T7
McGladrey: Robert Streb, WIN
CIMB: Cameron Smith, T5
HTOC: Taylor played his sixth event as a pro. He’s won 1/6 of the events he’s entered. That’s worth keeping an eye on for the foreseeable future.
Sony: Blair and Thomas finished T6 in their Sony debuts.
Humana: SJ Park (T2) is new to the TOUR but is hardly a rookie; Oh, look: Thomas in the top 10 again (T7).
WMPO: Koepka won so he graduates from this column like Reed, Spieth and Matsuyama before him. Justin Thomas is now the current mayor. Daniel Berger was T10, Thomas T17 and Finau returned with another top 25.
Farmers: Blair and Ortiz were T11 and Finau and Berger were T24. Not bad on a big, bad course!
Pebble Beach: Another top 10 for Berger and Curran as they had low rookie honors at T10. Will Wilcox was T18.
Northern Trust: Barber checked in at T12 and all that took was firing a tournament-low 65 on Sunday. No shame in Ortiz’s final round 75 from the final group as he played two very tough SoCal courses, Torrey South and Riviera T11 and T20. Noted.
Honda: Berger lost in a playoff. He’s played 10 TOUR events.
PRO: Young Argentine Emiliano Grillo missed a three-footer for his first win on TOUR. Curran hit another top 10, his third this season. Grillo has three TOUR starts; Curran has 17.
Valspar: There’s that pesky Thomas back in the top 10 AGAIN!
API: Berger just missed out on another top 10 with T13 and Blair and Ortiz racked up another top 25 each on T21.
VTO: Welcome Scott Pinckney to the proceedings as his T8 was quite stout. Ortiz hit the top 20 AGAIN with T15.
SHO: Berger, T25. He just keeps on keepin’ on.
Masters: Now you see why Spieth (WINNER) and Matsuyama (5th) were retired from the column? Koepka has already won as well. So has Henley. And Reed. Nobody this week fits.
RBC Heritage: Thomas, T11.
Zurich: Berger, T6. Thomas T12.
WGC-Match Play: N/A but Tommy Fleetwood is only 24 on the European Tour.
THE PLAYERS: Thomas fell from T5 to T24 closing with 75. #learningexperience
Wells Fargo: Web.com’s Patrick Rodgers inched closer to STM with his T2. He needs just nine FedEx Cup points to gain unlimited exemptions for the rest of the 2015 season.
Colonial: Finau returned to the scene as he backed up a good week at Quail with another at Colonial. T19.
ATT&TBNC: Pinckney, T2, best finish ever on TOUR; Berger and Finau T10.
Memorial: Finau, T8. He won't be in this column for long, I feel...
U.S. Open: Smith made eagle on the final hole to finish T4. That gave him a trip to Augusta next year and STM for the rest of this season. Finau continues his fantastic run with T14.
Travelers: Curran pegs another top 10 with T10.That's No. 4 in 2015 and No. 5 overall. Not bad for less than 25 starts on TOUR in his first year!
Greenbrier: Finau, again, T13.
JDC: Thomas, again, T5.
RBC Canadian: Tom Hoge, T5, his best finish in his rookie season. Cook, T7.
Coming Later TUESDAY Afternoon
Playing the Tips will be up and running this and every Tuesday afternoon and will list all of the Rotoworld experts picks in the GolfChannel.com game, the Yahoo! Fantasy Golf game, DFS plus the European Tour! Oh, and my One-and-Done feature. Look for it around 6ET every Tuesday for the rest of the season.
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at 12 ET. We will be breaking down the field at QLN and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/MikeGlasscott) on Twitter.