The PGA Tour heads for Bethesda, Maryland this week where Troy Merritt will defend the Quicken Loans National hosted by Tiger Woods at Congressional Country Club.

After last week’s controversial U.S. Open at Oakmont, a number of top players have made the journey to Maryland to compete in the Quicken Loans National at Congressional.

Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed will be the top-ranked entrants, with other big name starters including: Ernie Els, Jim Furyk (fresh off a tied second at Oakmont,) Marc Leishman and Justin Thomas.

Tiger Woods will act as tournament host only again this year as he struggles to recover fully from injury. The event will benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation.

This tournament began life in 2007 as the AT&T National. That first event was won by K.J. Choi and since then, Anthony Kim, Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Nick Watney and Bill Haas have all been champions.

Last year, Troy Merritt claimed his maiden PGA Tour title with a three shot victory over fellow American Rickie Fowler at Robert Trent Jones GC in Virginia.

Rickie Fowler swing:

Merritt took the lead in the event with a fabulous third round of 61 and held on to the advantage with a closing 67

Located just outside Washington DC, Congressional Country Club has always maintained political connections. In fact, when it was founded in 1924, Presidents William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge were founding life members. It remains an exclusive club with a significant waiting list and a weighty annual subscription.

The Blue Course was originally designed by Devereux Emmett, though the layout was quickly revised by renowned course architect Donald Ross. During the late 1950s and into the early part of the 1960s, Robert Trent Jones was employed to make alterations in preparation for the club hosting the US Open of 1964.

It’s a testing track that has been used as the venue for three U.S. Opens as well as the 1976 USPGA championship.

The weather looks reasonably settled for the week, but it could be rather warm.

Venue: Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, Maryland
Date: June 23-26
Course stats: par 71, 7,569 yards
Purse: $6,900,000 Winner: $1,242,000
Defending Champion: Troy Merritt (-18)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 23 – Sky Sports 4 from 8.30pm
Friday 24 – Sky Sports 4 from 8.30pm
Saturday 25 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Sunday 26 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm

Player watch:

Jim Furyk – Back from injury, the veteran produced a stellar final round of 66 at Oakmont to secure a tie for second place. This is a course that should suit his game and he has a couple of decent results here in the past to feed off.

Marc Leishman – The talented Australian has been on good form in recent weeks with three straight top-20 finishes on the PGA Tour. He was tied for eighth the last time this event was contested at Congressional.

Byeong Hun An – He’s adapting well to the PGA Tour and finished in the top-25 at Oakmont. He has the ability to win on any course and he could well make a PGA Tour breakthrough this week and gain his first win.