Tournaments

Quicken Loans National Primer: Storylines, Pairings, TV

Historic Congressional Country Club will play host to the PGA Tour 's Quicken Loans National. Credit: SB Nation
Historic Congressional Country Club will play host to the PGA Tour 's Quicken Loans National. Credit: SB Nation

What:

Quicken Loans National

Where:

Congressional Country Club (Blue Course) – Bethesda, MD

How Long:

Par 71, 7,574 yards (championship)

History:

Congressional Country Club was established in 1924, and its proximity to Washington DC has made it a popular business/leisure destination for the political world. The 36-hole layout, consisting of two distinct 18 hole courses, was designed by Devereux Emmit, the mind behind many historically great courses, such as Bethpage State Park (Green), Garden City Golf Club, and Engineers Country Club.

The Blue Course, where the PGA Tour sets up shop, has been redesigned three times since its birth — in 1957 by Robert Trent Jones, and in 1989 & 2006 by Rees Jones.

Rees Jones Inc redesigned the championship Blue Course in 2006. This is a shot of the beautiful par 3 10th hole, which measures 218 from the tips. Credit: Rees Jones Inc.

Home of Majors

Congressional has hosted a major on four occasions.
1964 U.S. Open (Ken Venturi)
1976 PGA Championship (Dave Stockton)
1997 U.S. Open (Ernie Els)
2011 U.S. Open (Rory McIlroy)

Defending Champion

Troy Merritt

Other Recent Champions:

2014: Justin Rose
2013: Bill Haas
2012: Tiger Woods
2011: Nick Watney
2010: Justin Rose

The PGA Tour Video Preview

Key Pairings

7:48 AM Chris Kirk, Rory Sabbatini, Kevin Chappell
7:48 AM Brian Stuard, Matt Jones, Webb Simpson
8:12 AM Davis Love III, Jim Furyk, Keegan Bradley
1:00 PM Troy Merritt, Patrick Reed, K.J. Choi
1:12 PM Justin Thomas, Smylie Kaufman, Rickie Fowler

Notables In Field

Rickie Fowler

Last year’s runner-up to Troy Merritt, Fowler has the best world ranking of anyone in the field (6).

Jim Furyk

Finished T2 at last week’s U.S. Open, his first quality start since coming back from a wrist injury that kept him out for action for three months.

Patrick Reed

Tour co-leader in Top 10 finishes (9), Reed is also #1 on Tour in shots gained: around-the-green.

Bryson DeChambeau

The PGA Tour rookie, who turned pro after a T21 as an amateur at the Masters, finished T15 at the U.S. Open. That makes back-to-back quality outings for DeChambeau, who missed four consecutive cuts in April/May, but has four top-30 finishes in five events outside that slump.

Francesco Molinari

The 33-year-old Italian is probably the best International Player in the field. He recorded top-10s at Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass this season.

Top 4 Storylines

1. What is wrong with Rickie Fowler?

Fowler was in the midst of a career season with six top-10s in 12 events, but then began a surprising slump where he has missed his last three cuts (The Players, The Memorial, U.S. Open). Rickie seems confident that it is just a blip on his season radar, but he is showing a troubling trend of poor performances in big events. He missed the cut by a mile at both the U.S. Open and The Masters, where he shot an opening-round 80. In his last five majors, he has two T30s combined with three missed cuts. Those are surprising results, and a troubling trend, for the man who finished in the top five of all four 2014 majors. Most would label him as the most talented player in the Quicken Loans field, but nobody knows what to expect from the world #6 right now.

2. #SB2K16 Re-united!

After this year’s Masters, Fowler, along with Jordan Spieth, Smylie Kaufman, and Justin Thomas, captured the hearts and the envy of golf and travel fans everywhere when they documented an ostentatious vacation in The Bahamas. It was the ultimate commentary on how social media has changed the way we view professional sports. Spieth will not be at Congressional this week, but the other three #sb2k16 members are all in the field. Them being in the same field isn’t unusual, but in an entertaining twist, their camaraderie will be on front display, as the three will be paired together for the first two rounds. It will be exciting to see if this epic pairing will bring out the best in each other’s games, or if it will cause a distraction. Fowler and Kaufman have been slumping lately (Fowler was addressed above, while Kaufman has missed four of his last five cuts), so they especially, will be hoping for the former.

3. U.S. Open Momentum

While this field mostly lacks star power at the top, this tournament does feature several golfers who brought their “A” games to Oakmont last week. Jim Furyk, who had been struggling badly since coming back from wrist surgery last month, used a final round 66 to catapult himself into a runner-up finish (and also drew the criticism of many when he skipped out on the medal ceremony). Daniel Summerhays had, by far, his best major finish with a surprising T8. Kevin Streelman, Brendan Steele, Bryson DeChambeau, Mark Leishman, Jon Rahm, Byeong Hun An, and Derek Fathauer, will also be attempting to translate their U.S. Open success into high finishes at Congressional.

4. Professional Debuts Galore!

Jon Rahm, the young Spaniard who was the only amateur to make the cut at Oakmont last week (T23), declared pro after the U.S. Open. All eyes will be on the former Arizona State star at Congressional as he makes his professional debut. Jordan Niebrugge, who ingratiated himself to the golf world with a T6 at last year’s Open Championship, will also be making his professional debut. Unfortunately, they are not paired together, at least not in the first two rounds, but their presence will catch the a great deal of attention.

Television

Round 1-2: 3:30-6:30PM on Golf Channel
Round 3: 1-2:30PM on Golf Channel; 3-6:00PM on CBS
Round 4: 1-2:30PM on Golf Channel; 3-6:30PM on CBS

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