Tiger returns to action as the Tour heads to the famous Congressional Country Club.
The PGA Tour heads to the Congressional Country Club this week for the Quicken Loans National, one of just five ‘invitational’ PGA Tour events. The focus of attention is likely to be on the man who hosts the event, whose charity benefits from the tournament and who, coincidentally, is making his return to competitive action after injury.
The Tiger Woods Foundation is the benefiting charity at Congressional and the former world number one plays just 87 days after back surgery. Along with Woods, there’s a strong fiend looking to bag a share of the $6.5 million purse. Keep reading for our preview of this weekend’s event.
US Open course will favour players capable of making lots of birdies
Congressional was the second-most challenging par 71 of nine played in non-majors in 2013. It averaged 1.124 strokes over par and boasted the second hardest set of par 5s all season as holes 6, 9 and 16 averaged 4.92.
There’s a smaller field for the tournament – it is an invitational event – and the course is likely to benefit those players who can find the greens in regulation and gain strokes through some careful putting.
Tiger likely to be ‘rusty’ after three months out
Invitational events on the PGA Tour often benefit experienced players, for no other reason than a considerable amount of the qualifying criteria favours tour players that have competed in it at least once before.
It’s rare that Tiger Woods isn’t the ante-post favourite in a tournament in which he features but the two time Quicken Loans National winner admits he is likely to be out of touch on his return to the game.
The first round is scheduled to begin just 87 days after he underwent a procedure to relieve a pinched nerve in his back and Woods admits he is likely to be ‘rusty’ for this event.
Considering solid approaches to the green are likely to be critical, it may be a bit early in his recovery to back Woods at 14/1.
Jason Day is the 13/1 favourite in the betting and has an excellent record at Congressional. He was second at the US Open when it was staged here in 2011 and, since then, has finished T8 and T21. He’s in good form in 2014 finishing T4 at the US Open and is certainly the man to beat at 13/1.
We also like the chances of Jordan Spieth at 14/1. The youngster has enjoyed a terrific year with top 20 finishes in six of his last seven starts. He co-led this tournament at the half-way stage in 2013 before finishing in sixth place and so a combination of good form and a liking for the Congressional course means he offers great value.
Outsiders to watch
We’ve been keeping an eye on Billy Horschel over the last few weeks and it’s surely only a matter of time before the 27 year old registers a second win on the PGA Tour. His worst finish in his last four tournaments was T26 and he registered a T6 finish at the recent St Jude Classic.
The from Grant, Florida ranks sixth on the tour for GIR – a stat that could be vital at Congressional. He was going well last year until a dreadful 79 in the third round but we fancy he offers decent each-way value this year at 35/1.
Brendan Todd made his career breakthrough in May when he won the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Since then he has been in terrific form with a T5, a T8 and a T17 to follow and he sits in the top ten on the FedEx Cup standings.
The 28 year old was T13 at Congressional last year and he sits seventh on the Tour in strokes gained-putting and 12th in adjusted scoring. One of the form players on tour, Todd offers great each-way value at 30/1.
If you want to back a rank outsider at three figure odds then it may be worth considering Stuart Appleby. The 43 year old shot a superb 64 in his final round at the Travelers Championship last weekend, finishing 9 under par in a share of 18th place.
It was the Australian’s third top 20 finish in his last seven events and the man from Cohuna finished T16 at Congressional in 2009 and T3 in 2007. Appleby is available at a tasty looking 145/1.
Check out all our pre-tournament odds on the 2014 Quicken Loans National over at our main site at https://www.betbright.com/golf/51633018/56404148/119589368