October 21, 2017

QLN pro-am takeaways: J.R. Smith is good at golf and “you could 100 percent host a U.S. Open here”

Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith fist bumps Rickie Fowler on Wednesday during the Quicken Loans National pro-am at TPC Potomac. Photo courtesy of the PGA Tour.

 

BETHESDA — After a seven-year hiatus from what was previously known as “Avenel,” the PGA Tour roles back through the outskirts of D.C. for this week’s Quicken Loans National at the overhauled TPC Potomac.

The pro-am for this week’s tour stop took place on Wednesday, where a slew of takeaways bobbed to surface – some meaningful and others maybe not meaningful to you, but the world needs to hear about it anyway.

To clear up any confusion on why the Tour stopped playing here in 2009, Greg Norman, the former top-ranked ranked golfer in the world, said in 1987 the No. 9 green at then Avenel ought to be blown into pieces – when the tournament made its debut.

In terms of rankings, the best golfer on the planet griped at first sight, and then more backlash and hate piled on for 22 more years, until the Tour had enough and decided to yank the wonky designed course off the docket. Well, after a major facelift – a complete redo of infrastructure – the PGA Tour is baaaaaack (and still playing at a ruthless rate).

“There are no low scores here,” Bill Haas, the 2013 winner of the tournament, said.

“It’s hard,” Justin Thomas, the No. 12-ranked golfer in the world, added after shooting a 2-under-par 68 on Wednesday. “You could 100 percent host a U.S. Open here starting tomorrow. I mean you really could. It’s not very often we play greens this firm on tour other than majors.”

Point No. 1: “It’s [still] hard.”

Annapolis native and Naval Academy alum, Billy Hurley III, who supposedly plays TPC Potomac more than anyone else on tour, shot the worst score of the day at 8-over. He’s also the defending champion. And though there’s not a lick of golf talent inside the 5-foot-4 frame of ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter, he, too, stunk up the joint with flubs and OB cranks.

“Adam, just pretend you’re preparing your mind for speaking in front the camera, and maybe that’ll help,” I suggested.

“Being in front of the camera is a lot easier than this, buddy,” Schefter said.

He probably shot like a 136. But hey, he’s making millions $$, and he stays winning.

They say this everywhere, but this week, it’s paramount: If you hit your fairways, you’ll be aye OK. Miss a fairway? You’ve got to get out of some lush, U.S. Open-like rough. And if it’s real bad, the dreaded fescue looms.

Just ask Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. Dude pitched a tent in that stuff all day Wednesday.

For all my 21-and-over people, this shouldn’t come as a surprise: Beer is still overpriced. Eight-freaking-dollars for a cold one. Booooooo. And everything else is still outrageous, like a $12.00 BBQ sandwich and $8.00 burger, and that’s without a drink or anything else. Tack on $3.00 more for a water and $4.00 for a little bag of chips.

My lunch yesterday that I would’ve gotten at Burger King for like $7.00 costed $15.00 (it also would’ve came with fries instead of chips). Oh well.

So I guess point No. 2 is you’re either going to go meal-less for the weekend or drain your bank account.

Here’s something that may be surprising: J.R. Smith (yes the J.R. Smith who balls for the Cavaliers and went days without a shirt during the Cavs’ title festivities in 2016) takes his golf very seriously.

Smith probably tinkered with even-par on the front, and even capped his first nine holes with a birdie on No. 9. He consistently hammered drives 280-plus-yards, and his 113.7 MPH club speed is in touring pro range (110-127 MPH).

“Man what a day! It’s crazy how my dreams keep coming true! … @pgatour I’m coming!!” Smith said in an Instagram post.

On another side of things, what’s a D.C. sporting event without D.C. sports figures? Nothing, really. Redskins coach Jay Gruden and Redskins punter Tress Way played on Wednesday, as well as Ryan Kerrigan.

Capitals’ Karl Alzner, John Carlson and Justin Williams participated as well. We tried getting them to do a Happy Gilmore impersonation, and if it happened a video would be on here somewhere. 

For a Redskins snippet in June, Gruden says the biggest thing is his roster is finally healthy for once, which has been marred with injuries the past few years.

“We’re healthy, and that’s all that matters right now,” Gruden, who also lost 20 pounds over the offseason, said.

In the PGA’s perspective, they’d like to see this week be a healthy one, too, and more than just a one-stop-shop. Let’s just hope no whiners spoil it this time around.

About Kyle McFadden 339 Articles
Kyle McFadden is a graduate from Linganore High School's Class of 2014, a sports junkie and general news-hound. He got his start as a sports writer in January 2014 for Linganore's student-run newspaper The Lance, where he wrote 13 articles. McFadden then launched his own blog in October 2014 called The Beltway Dispatch covering collegiate, local high school and professional sports. Formally known as The Beltway Dispatch, McFadden and Evan Engelhard merged respective platforms in June 2015 to make what is now Maryland Sports Access. With baseball, basketball and golf experience, McFadden brings ample knowledge to the helm of MSA. McFadden covers a wide variety of sports in football, baseball, basketball, golf, hockey, lacrosse, soccer and specializes in the collegiate and high school levels. McFadden volunteers his time at Damascus Road Community Church -- serving as a mentor to the youth, basketball coach at the varsity and junior varsity levels, and leads a small group of high school sophomores every Wednesday night. Although he's only been around journalism since January 2014, he's a high school sports reporter for The Baltimore Sun and freelancer for The Frederick News-Post. McFadden's work has also appeared in DMV newspapers The Aegis, The Capital Gazette, The Daily Times (Delmarva Now), The Hometown Observer, Howard County Times, Germantown Pulse and The Towson Times. He's also won two Mike Powell Excellence in Journalism awards and has appeared on The Best of SNO, which showcases top student work of high school and college journalists. McFadden currently studies at Frederick Community College and plans to transfer to the University of Maryland in the fall of 2018 to work on a bachelor's degree in journalism with aspirations to be a national college basketball writer.
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