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.”
— The National Tournament (@TheNationalDC) June 28, 2017
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.
— Kyle McFadden (@k_fadd) June 28, 2017
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).
— Kyle McFadden (@k_fadd) June 29, 2017
“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.
— Kyle McFadden (@k_fadd) June 28, 2017
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.