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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

In-form Haas ready to tackle new challenge

Course form thin on the ground for Potomac

Bill Haas is a solid performer
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Wilkerson's top tip
Bill Haas 25-1

After Jordan Spieth's dramatic playoff win in the Travelers Championship last week, the US Tour heads to Maryland where the Quicken Loans National finds a temporary home at TPC Potomac.

Tiger Woods, whose foundation sponsors the event, will not be there but the field of 120 should be guaranteed a warm welcome at a course desperate to prove its credentials after being dumped by the Tour ten years ago.

Massive renovations mean course form from the previously contested Kemper Open is somewhat redundant, but players should still be tested as they tackle a par-70 course for the second successive week.

One player who should be able to cope with those demands is the consistent Bill Haas and on a course where few players have much experience, he could have a good week.

The 35-year-old had a week off following his tie for fifth at the US Open and his precise game and par-four scoring ability - there are just two par-fives at Potomac - should help him.

He headed to Erin Hills having posted top-25 finishes in the Dean & Deluca Invitiational and the Memorial, and while Potomac is uncharted territory, Haas has a great deal of affinity with the tournament having won it in 2013 and claimed top-five finishes in each of the last two years.

His solid all-round game should be up to the task and he can claim his first PGA Tour win since the Humana Challenge in 2015.

Next best
Kevin Streelman 60-1

Kevin Streelman has not won on the US Tour since 2014's Travelers Championship, but the 38-year-old from Illinois heads to Maryland in excellent form.

He dropped just two shots in his final two rounds at TPC River Highlands last week and a closing 64 helped him to a share of eighth place.

That came after two successive top-20 finishes and it was a similar story last year when he finished eighth at the Memorial and 13th in the US Open before posting 12th place in this tournament.

He has two other top-15 finishes in the Quicken Loans and arrives at the course in fine fettle. 

Other selections
Si-Woo Kim 40-1
David Lingmerth 33-1

It is difficult to make selections with great confidence in this tournament with so little known about the venue, but the fact Players Championship winner Si-Woo Kim is 40-1 raises a few eyebrows.

He missed the cut last year in his only appearance in the tournament but that should not be a huge turn-off as it was played at a different course.

Kim demonstrated that his performance at Sawgrass was not a fluke by finishing tied for 13th at the US Open in his last appearance - it could have been even better had he not carded a closing 75.

While his form this season has been littered with missed cuts, the 21-year-old could put in a bold show on a course where inexperience may not be a huge handicap.

David Lingmerth is the only player in the field to have tasted success at Potomac but there is more to recommend the Swede than just a course win the in 2012 Neediest Kids Championship on the subsidiary Web.com tour.

He has posted top-30 finishes in six of his last seven tournaments - the exception was the Players Championship - and he will be disappointed to have let a top-five opportunity slip by with a 73 in the Travelers last week.

Knowledge of the course following its renovation could give him a helping hand.

Others to note
Rickie Fowler
Needs to pick himself up after failing to convert a great chance at the US Open. Has a great all-round game but is short enough at a single-figure price on an untried track.

Justin Thomas
Blitzed Erin Hills during the third round but saw his Major challenge slip away as well. Never got going at the Travelers last week and needs to make a fast start. If he does, he'll be the man to beat.

Patrick Reed
It has taken him a while to live up to his excellent performance at the Ryder Cup , but he has finished in the top 25 in six of his last seven, including fifth in the Travelers when he recovered well from a disappointing third round. Could be a big player.

Brendan Steele
His tie for 14th at River Highlands was his eighth top-20 since the turn of the year and the consistent performer remains a factor in any US Tour event, particularly those with less than strong fields. 

Billy Hurley
The reigning champion will be keen to put up a solid title defence. It will be hard to match his Congressional win but he practices regularly at Potomac and that should stand him in good stead.

Keegan Bradley
Last week's eighth place should provide a confidence boost and while it's early to say whether his putting travails are completely behind him, another bold show would not be a great surprise.

Staking plan
B Haas
1.5pts each-way 25-1 Betfair, Coral, Paddy Power
K Streelman
1pt each-way 60-1 Betfred
S-W Kim
1pt each-way 40-1 Coral
D Lingmerth
1pt each-way 33-1 Sky Bet


The lowdown

Course TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, Potomac, Maryland

Prize money $7.1m ($1.242m to the winner)

Length 7,139 yards Par 70 Field 120

Course records - 72 holes 272 David Lingmerth (2012 Neediest Kids Championship) 18 holes 63 Jason Gore (2012 Neediest Kids Championship)

Course winner taking part David Lingmerth

When to bet By midday on Thursday

Where to watch Live on Sky Sports 4 from 8.30pm on Thursday

Time difference Maryland is five hours behind the UK and Ireland

Last week - Travelers Championship 1 J Spieth 10-1, 2 D Berger 35-1, T3 C Hoffman 40-1, D Lee 80-2, T5 P Reed 28-1, P Casey 22-1, B Weekley 500-1.

Course overview TPC Potomac hosted the Kemper Open until 2007 but fell out of favour with the PGA and this is the first Tour tournament the Maryland track has held since, filling in for the traditional Quicken Loans venue up the road at Congressional.

A huge redesign was instigated after the course was ostracised, so form before it was reopened in 2009 is probably of minimal use. Potomac has been used for two tournaments on the supplementary web.com tour in 2012 and 2013 and also hosted the 2010 Seniors Players Championship, which was won by Mark O'Meara.

As a par 70, it should prove a tight layout. There are only two par-fives, the second and the tenth, and the second could prove difficult to reach in two for some.

The par-four 14th could prove driveable and the 12th is an interesting par three where the tee shot is blind. The 11th demands a tricky second shot over the creeks and water could come into play on the par-three 17th.

Story of last year Local boy Billy Hurley held on at Congressional to claim a three-shot win over Vijay Singh, with Bill Haas and Spanish star Jon Rahm finishing a further shot in arrears. 

Weather forecast It looks set to be a warm week with temperatures in the low 30s. The only rain looks likely to fall on Saturday afternoon.

Type of player suited to the challenge Straight hitters have performed well in the web.com and senior tournaments at Potomac but the course is a bit of an unknown quality. It does not look a track that is likely to be overpowered, but there is little to go on.

Key attribute Accuracy

 

The 35-year-old had a week off following his tied for fifth at the US Open and his precise game and par-four scoring ability should help him
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