2017 Quicken Loans National: 10 players to watch, picks to win

By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange  |  June 27, 2017 at 5:45 PM
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1. Rickie Fowler, United States

Rickie Fowler and caddie Joe Skovron walk from No. 5 tee box during the final round of the 117th U.S. Open. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Even though Fowler was unable to close the deal after contending in the U.S. Open, in which he tied for fifth, and the Memorial, in which he tied for second, he is enjoying a strong season. He claimed his fourth PGA Tour victory by four strokes over Morgan Hoffman and Gary Woodland in the Honda Classic and has four other results in the top 10. Fowler is No. 9 in the Official World Golf Ranking and also ninth in the FedExCup point standings, but the knock on him is that he does not win enough. It seemed he had gotten past that by winning the Players Championship and the Deutsche Bank Championship two years ago, but the Honda is his only victory since. Fowler is making his sixth start in the Quicken Loans National and his best result was solo second two years ago, three strokes behind Troy Merritt at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va.

2. Justin Thomas, United States

Justin Thomas putts for birdie on No. 1 but misses for par during the final round of the 117th U.S. Open. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
It probably wasn't a big surprise that Thomas missed the cut in the Travelers Championship last week, because he might have been running on empty after being in the hunt most of the way in the U.S. Open a week earlier at Erin Hills before settling for a tie for ninth. That was his best finish in a major and his eighth top-10 finish of the season, including three victories to tie top-ranked Dustin Johnson for the most on the PGA Tour. Thomas is third in the FedExCup standings while rising to No. 12 in the world rankings. His missed cut was his fourth of the season and came after he finished in the top 10 in three of his last four outings, so he will try to get back on track this week in his third appearance in the Quicken Loans National. He tied for fourth in 2015 at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club and tied for 12th last year at Congressional.

3. Si Woo Kim, South Korea

Si Woo Kim of Korea drives from No. 5 during the final round of the 117th U.S. Open. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
After showing that his victory in the Wyndham Championship last year was no fluke by winning the Players Championship by three strokes over Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Ian Poulter of England last month at TPC Sawgrass, the 21-year-old Kim backed that up with a tie for 13th in the U.S. Open. He was in the hunt in the second major of the season at Erin Hills before closing with a 3-over-par 75 after missing the cut in his first two major appearances. Kim has struggled somewhat this season with eight missed cuts on the PGA Tour, including four in a row at one stage, but he has shown poise far beyond his years and seems to have gotten his game back on track in the last month. He made his first start in the Quicken Loans National a year ago and shot 67-77 -- 144 to miss the cut by two strokes at Congressional.

4. Billy Horschel, United States

Billy Horschel and his daughter Skyler put the ball in the hole on the ninth green during the Par Three Contest at the 2016 Masters Tournament. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Following more than two years of struggles after winning the BMW Championship and the season-ending Tour Championship back-to-back to capture the 2014 FedExCup, Horschel seems to be heading in the right direction the last few months. He claimed his fourth PGA Tour victory in the AT&T Byron Nelson by beating Jason Day of Australia with a par on the first playoff hole, and tied for fourth in the St. Jude Classic by closing with a 6-under-par 64. However, his inconsistency has continued even in this stretch, as he shot 78-71 -- 149 to miss the cut in the Memorial Tournament and 79-78 -- 157 to miss the weekend in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills in his last start two weeks ago. Horschel will tee it up in the Quicken Loans National for the fifth time this week, and after two missed cuts and a tie for 61st, he posted a tie for 11th last year at Congressional.

5. Patrick Reed, United States

Patrick Reed drives from No. 2 during the final round of the 117th U.S. Open. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
It's been an uphill battle this season for Reed, one of the best players on the PGA Tour the last four years, but he seems to have found his form in recent weeks. After being in the chase for much of the way in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, he closed with a 2-over-par 74 to tie for 13th, and followed that with a tie for fifth last week in the Travelers Championship. It was only his second top-10 finish of the season, but he has finished in the top 25 in six of his last seven starts. Reed, who claimed five victories on the PGA Tour in the last four seasons, was No. 8 in the Official World Golf Rankings at the end of last year and is trying to climb back from No. 17. He is making his fourth appearance in the Quicken Loans National this week and his best result in the event was a tie for 11th in 2014 at Congressional.

6. Marc Leishman, Australia

Marc Leishman prepares to hit off the 1st tee during round 3 of the 117th U.S. Open. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
The Aussie finished in the top 10 on consecutive weeks earlier this year when he claimed his second PGA Tour victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and tied for ninth in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. After a bit of a dry spell following those results, he seems to have it going again after a tie for 13th in the AT&T Byron Nelson, a tie for 15th in the Memorial Tournament and a tie for 17th in the Travelers Championship since late in May. Leishman seemed headed for another high finish before he closed with a 3-over-par 75 to tie for 27th two weeks ago in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills. This will be his eighth start in the Quicken Loans National, with his only top-10 finishes a tie for seventh in 2010 at Aronimink Golf Club, where he played the weekend in 67-68, and a tie for eighth three years ago at Congressional.

7. Bill Haas, United States

American golfer Bill Haas hits out of the bunker on the 8th hole at the 145th Open Golf Championship. File photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI
Haas has finished in the top four in three of the last four Quicken Loans National, winning the tournament by three strokes over Roberto Castro in 2013 for one of his six victories on the PGA Tour. He played the last three rounds in 68-68-66 at Congressional, where he also tied for third last year, and he tied for fourth two years ago at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, where he shot 8-under-par 64 in the third round. Haas has made eight previous appearances in the tournament and didn't crack the top 25 in any of the other five. He missed three straight cuts through the Players Championship in May, but in his last three starts he tied for 12th in the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, tied for 25th in the Memorial and tied for fifth two weeks ago at the U.S. Open. He played the last three rounds at Erin Hills in 68-69-69 and hopes to bring some momentum to TPC Potomac.

8. Kevin Chappell, United States

Kevin Chappell tees off on the 7th hole in the first round at the 2017 Masters Tournament. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI
It's been a breakthrough season for Chappell, who buried an eight-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to claim his first PGA Tour victory by one stroke over Brooks Koepka in the Valero Texas Open. The 30-year-old had six runner-up finishes and three thirds on the circuit before finally winning. He also posted a tie for seventh in April that is his best result in the Masters, in addition to tying for fourth this month in the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Chappell could have been on his way out of town after opening with a 2-over-par 74 in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, but battled back to salvage a respectable tie for 23rd. He is making his seventh consecutive appearance in the Quicken Loans National, but the only time he finished in the top 25 came when he tied for 18th in 2015 at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. However, it's a bitter memory, as Chappell was tied for the lead before closing with a 77.

9. Danny Lee, New Zealand

Danny Lee signs autographs for fans after a practice round at the PGA Championship. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI
The South Korean-born Lee is heating up with the weather, recording three top-10 finishes in his last five starts on the PGA Tour. He tied for fifth in the AT&T Byron Nelson, finished solo sixth the next week in the Dean & DeLuca Invitational and tied for third last week in the Travelers Championship, closing with a 3-under-par 67 that left him two strokes out of the playoff in which Jordan Spieth defeated Daniel Berger. Lee's only PGA Tour victory came in the 2015 Greenbrier Classic in a playoff over David Hearn of Canada, Kevin Kisner and Robert Streb, and he's looking forward to returning to the Greenbrier Resort next week. But first, he will make his fifth start in the Quicken Loans National and he tied for seventh in his first appearance in the tournament in 2009 at Congressional and also tied for fourth two years ago at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.

10. Brendan Steele, United Sates

Brendan Steele watches his tee shot on the 2nd hole during the third round of the 93rd PGA Championship. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
Since starting the season with his second PGA Tour victory in the Safeway Open, Steele has been a model of consistency with three more finishes in the top 10 and a total of nine in the top 25. He has played well lately with a tie for sixth in the Players Championship, a tie for 13th in the U.S. Open despite closing with a 1-over-par 73, and a tie for 14th last week in the Travelers Championship. Steele, whose other victory on the circuit came in the 2011 Valero Texas Open, has missed the cut only once in 18 starts this season and is 13th in the FedExCup point standings. He will tee it up this week in the Quicken Loans National for the sixth time and his best result was a tie for fifth in 2014 at Congressional, where he bounced back from an opening 74 with a 66 to make the cut. Steele also tied for 16th in 2013, when he had another 66 in round three at Congressional.

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