I don't get too excited about non-major PGA Tour events, but it was pretty cool watching Sunday's playoff between Jordan Spieth and Daniel Berger as the two are good buddies. Spieth got his second win of the year by holing out from a greenside bunker on the first extra hole of the Travelers Championship playoff at TPC River Highlands outside Hartford. Spieth's celebration after was awesome. I've already heard some stodgy old golfers complain about it, but I thought it was great and golf needs more emotion. Plus, Berger got a good laugh from it all, so if he wasn't offended then no one else should be. Berger was officially eliminated from the playoff when he missed a 50-foot putt to match Spieth's birdie3.
It was the 10th career Tour win in the 23-year-old Spieth's career. He's only the second player in the modern era with at least 10 wins before turning 24. Tiger Woods won 15 times before his 24th birthday, which Spieth won't match considering he turns 24 late next month. It was the sixth playoff on Tour for Spieth and his fourth victory. It was also his second career wire-to-wire win along with his dominance at the 2015 Masters. It was Spieth's first victory in a tournament debut.
I wasn't that high on Spieth last week because it was his debut. My winning pick was a former champion, Aussie Marc Leishman. He never shot higher than 69 but finished T17 at 6-under, six behind Spieth and Berger. I did get Paul Casey at +300 as top European after he finished T5 at 9-under.
This week the Tour heads to its annual Washington, D.C., stop for the Quicken Loans National. I'll just cut to the chase and say I'm largely flying blind here because it's a new course in the event's rotation: TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, a par 70 measuring 7,139 yards. Robert Trent Jones in Gainesville hosted the event in 2015 and last year it was Congressional, the preferred site for tournament organizers. Except Congressional members don't want it there every year because then it's closed for weeks in prime golf season. It will host again in 2018. TPC Potomac last hosted an event in 2006, the Booz Allen Classic, which previously had been known as the Kemper Open.
The Quicken Loans National is run by Tiger's foundation, and he's a two-time winner of it. Of course he's not playing the rest of this season off more back surgery. Woods will not be in attendance, either. That's probably smart as it would be a media circus only caring about Tiger's recent DUI arrest and in-patient treatment to help manage medications. Woods also missed the Genesis Open, the other PGA Tour event attached to his name, earlier this year due to back pain.
The defending champion is Billy Hurley III, who is from the area and graduated from the nearby Naval Academy. He shot a final-round 2-under 69 to finish at 17-under and three ahead of Vijay Singh. The under-par total was one shy of the tournament record. Hurley had never finished higher than a tie for fourth in a PGA Tour event. Hurley really hasn't come close to winning since and has missed seven cuts this year. He's a +10000 long shot to repeat, which no one has done at this tournament. Hurley is one of five former champions in a weak field.
Golf Odds: Quicken Loans National Favorites
Rickie Fowler is the highest-ranked player in the field and your +750 Bovada favorite . He comes off a T5 at the U.S. Open. Fowler finished second in the 2015 version of this tournament, three shots behind Troy Merritt at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.
Justin Thomas is +1100 and Patrick Reed +1200. I liked Thomas for a Top 10 last week, but he missed the cut. He had been ninth in the U.S. Open. Thomas has been 12th and fourth in two trips to this event. Reed was T5 last week and 39th here last year.
Kevin Chappell and Leishman (both +2000) round out the favorites. Chappell has played this event every year since 2011 with a best of 18th (2015). Leishman has two Top 10s in this event this decade.
Golf Odds: Quicken Loans National Picks
For a Top 10, go with Fowler (+175), Bill Haas (+500) and Brendan Steele (+500). Leishman even money as top Aussie and Martin Laird (+350) as top Euro.
Head-to-head, I like Steele (-120) over David Lingmerth (-110), Reed (-125) over Leishman (-105), Tony Finau (-115) over Russell Henley (-115), Fowler (-130) over Thomas (even), and Bill Haas (-115) over Chappell (-115).
As noted above, I don't have much to go on here. Theoretically, it being a par 70 instead of 72 means you should favor guys who play par 4s well. Distance won't mean quite as much. I do like Haas to contend this week as he has a great history in this tournament, including a win. You can get Reed and Haas at +900 vs. the field (-2000). Might threw a few bucks down there. But I'll go with Steele at +2500 to win. He comes in off back-to-back Top-15 finishes and is fifth on Tour in par-4 scoring this season.
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