Photo Gallery

    • FANTASY

      Power Rankings: Quicken Loans National

    • Jordan Spieth finished sixth at Congressional last season. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images) Jordan Spieth finished sixth at Congressional last season. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

    Tiger Woods makes his latest return to competition at this week's Quicken Loans National. His foundation is the host and benefiting charity. The new title sponsor inked a multi-year agreement in March. The first round is scheduled to begin just 87 days after he underwent a microdiscectomy or procedure to relieve a pinched nerve in his back. Even before surgery, Woods admitted that swinging a driver caused little if no pain, so the maximum length of 7,569 yards at Congressional Country Club's Blue Course -- second-longest of the season behind Torrey Pines South (7,698 yards) -- is unlikely to present a roadblock. Instead, Woods admitted in his announcement last week that he'll simply be "rusty." That usually translates into imprecision on approach and inconsistency on and around greens.

    Woods has won two of the five editions of the event at Congressional, which served as site of the first three in 2007-2009 and again since 2012. It sat out two years for the 2011 U.S. Open for which the old Poa annua greens were replaced with bentgrass. What Woods does when he reenters the ropes will no doubt command attention, but 119 others will also be attempting to tame what 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 (next to Merion's pair for the U.S. Open). The Blue Course's trio of par 5s -- Nos. 6, 9 and 16 -- averaged 4.92.

    Defending champion Bill Haas flourished en route to a three-stroke margin, ranking T4 in greens in regulation and second in strokes gained-putting. He circled a field-high 25 birdies. No one else had more than 21 par breakers. Seven of his were collected on his 12 trips through the par 5s.

    A reasonable chance for rain dots the forecast all week. Summertime heating will help fuel afternoon thunderstorms, but they are expected to be isolated. High temperatures into the low 90s in conjunction with the humidity will likely evoke discussion of Ken Venturi's win in a sweltering 36-hole finale at the 1964 U.S. Open at Congressional.

    Power Rankings: Quicken Loans National

    Rank

    Player

    Comment

    1 Jason Day Jason Day

    Proven healthy again with a T4 at Pinehurst and a T18 at the Travelers. Solo second at 2011 U.S. Open. T8 (2012) and T21 (2013) here since.

    Proven healthy again with a T4 at Pinehurst and a T18 at the Travelers. Solo second at 2011 U.S. Open. T8 (2012) and T21 (2013) here since.

    2 Brendon Todd Brendon Todd

    Four straight top 20s sparked by Nelson breakthrough. T13 here last year. Sits seventh in strokes gained-putting; 12th in adjusted scoring.

    Four straight top 20s sparked by Nelson breakthrough. T13 here last year. Sits seventh in strokes gained-putting; 12th in adjusted scoring.

    3 Jordan Spieth Jordan Spieth

    Top 20s in six of his last seven starts; 14 on the season. Co-led at Congressional after 36 holes last year en route to a solo sixth.

    Top 20s in six of his last seven starts; 14 on the season. Co-led at Congressional after 36 holes last year en route to a solo sixth.

    4 Brandt Snedeker Brandt Snedeker

    Rounding into form with consecutive top 15s for the first time in 11 months. Three top 10s at Congressional and a T11 in 2011 U.S. Open.

    Rounding into form with consecutive top 15s for the first time in 11 months. Three top 10s at Congressional and a T11 in 2011 U.S. Open.

    5 Justin Rose Justin Rose

    Won this event in 2010 but at Aronimink in Pennsylvania. Five top 15s worldwide in last seven starts; T12 at Pinehurst two weeks ago.

    Won this event in 2010 but at Aronimink in Pennsylvania. Five top 15s worldwide in last seven starts; T12 at Pinehurst two weeks ago.

    6 Billy Horschel Billy Horschel

    Congressional caters to his wont for the level of difficulty and premium off the tee. No worse than T26 in his last four starts this season.

    Congressional caters to his wont for the level of difficulty and premium off the tee. No worse than T26 in his last four starts this season.

    7 Keegan Bradley Keegan Bradley

    Tied for fourth at Pinehurst two weeks ago. Currently 17th in the all-around, 22nd in adjusted scoring and 21st in scrambling.

    Tied for fourth at Pinehurst two weeks ago. Currently 17th in the all-around, 22nd in adjusted scoring and 21st in scrambling.

    8 Webb Simpson Webb Simpson

    Shared third three weeks ago in Memphis. In U.S. Open debut, tied for 14th at Congressional in 2011. Thirtieth in adjusted scoring.

    Shared third three weeks ago in Memphis. In U.S. Open debut, tied for 14th at Congressional in 2011. Thirtieth in adjusted scoring.

    9 Marc Leishman Marc Leishman

    Arrives having survived five consecutive cuts, four of which for a top 25. T11 at the Travelers. Ranks 29th in adjusted scoring.

    Arrives having survived five consecutive cuts, four of which for a top 25. T11 at the Travelers. Ranks 29th in adjusted scoring.

    10 Bill Haas Bill Haas

    In similar form prior to last year's win. Steady not spectacular season as he enters his prime. Ranks 23rd in GIR; 45th in adjusted scoring.

    In similar form prior to last year's win. Steady not spectacular season as he enters his prime. Ranks 23rd in GIR; 45th in adjusted scoring.

    11 Aaron Baddeley Aaron Baddeley

    A solo fourth at the Travelers was his best finish since the same at Pebble Beach in 2012. Confidence is evident when he speaks, too.

    A solo fourth at the Travelers was his best finish since the same at Pebble Beach in 2012. Confidence is evident when he speaks, too.

    12 Brendan Steele Brendan Steele

    Fresh off a season-best T5 at the Travelers where he's had success before. Opened with career-tying-low 62. T16 at 2013 Quicken Loans.

    Fresh off a season-best T5 at the Travelers where he's had success before. Opened with career-tying-low 62. T16 at 2013 Quicken Loans.

    13 K.J. Choi K.J. Choi

    Winner of the inaugural edition of this tournament missed the cut in the last two, but he tied for second at TPC River Highlands on Sunday.

    Winner of the inaugural edition of this tournament missed the cut in the last two, but he tied for second at TPC River Highlands on Sunday.

    14 Gary Woodland Gary Woodland

    Outside the top 50 in his last two starts, but riding a consecutive cuts made streak of 15. Shared 16th at Congressional last year.

    Outside the top 50 in his last two starts, but riding a consecutive cuts made streak of 15. Shared 16th at Congressional last year.

    15 Carl Pettersson Carl Pettersson

    With a T3 at St. Jude and a T7 at Travelers -- and under par in every round -- he's connected top 10s for the first time since August 2012.

    With a T3 at St. Jude and a T7 at Travelers -- and under par in every round -- he's connected top 10s for the first time since August 2012.

    comments powered by Disqus
  • file