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Travelers Championship Preview & Picks
by Matt Fargo - 06/19/2012
As with any golf fan, this is a letdown week after a Major, as the U.S. Open concluded Sunday with Webb Simpson capturing his first Major in backdoor fashion. The letdown not only comes because of the less importance on the line but also because the field strength goes way down following a Major championship. Both are the case this week for the Travelers Championship taking place from the TPC at River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.
The scoring will be different compared to last week at the Olympic Club where every player in the field finished over par. The last 18 winners of the Travelers have carded double-digit scores under par which means birdies are coveted so ball striking and hitting greens are of the utmost importance. This can be said almost every week on tour but when you are talking about going low, they become even more important. Last year, 37 players finished double-digits under par.
TPC at River Highlands has hosted this event since 1984 and it was formerly known as the Buick Championship and the Greater Hartford Open. It has gone through two redesigns and River Highlands is second only to the TPC Scottsdale for most spectators at a PGA Tour event. With the scoring, it is not a very difficult track and last year it was ranked 41st in difficulty out of 51 venues. The 6,841 yards in length makes it one of the shorter stops as well.
Because of the U.S. Open taking place last week, the field has been thinned out but there are still some significant names as five of the top nine in the money standings are in play. However, just nine tournament winners from this year are teeing it up so the possibility is there once again to crown a first-timer. Six of the past eight Travelers Champions are also here including 2010 champion and the defending Masters champion Bubba Watson. Last week's U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson is also in Cromwell.
The favorite this week is Matt Kuchar (+1,200) who is making his first start at the Travelers since 2008 when he finished T52. He was in the running last week at Olympic but a Sunday 74 knocked him down to a T27, his second straight finish outside the top 20 after seven of his previous eight starts inside the top 15. He is ranked 15th in ball striking so he will be dangerous here.
Hunter Mahan (+1,500) won here in 2007, followed that up with a T2 and T4 the next two years and while he has not done well the last two years, he cannot be left out. He could become the first three-time winner on tour this year and it doesn't hurt knowing he is ranked third in ball striking and sixth in greens in regulation so going low once again should not be an issue.
Padraig Harrington (+2,000) was one of the feel good stories at the U.S. Open last week as he got himself into contention by shooting -1 over the last three rounds but a Sunday bogey on 18 left him with a T4. After missing the cut at the Heritage and at THE PLAYERS, he has posted three straight in the top 15 and prior to his T63 last year, he finished T5 here in 2010.
John Rollins (+4,000) has been all over the place this year as he has missed seven cuts but has also placed in the top 10 four times. He has not won since August 2009 at the Reno-Tahoe Open and while you can't play the due factor, his success here last year shows he should come in with great confidence. Despite missing his last two cuts this year, his T2 at the Travelers last year takes precedence.
Harris English (+5,000) will be the longshot this week and while he has never played here, the same can be said about every course for the rookie. He has two top eight finishes and both came right after the big ones as he finished T8 at the Heritage right after the Masters and T5 at Colonial right after THE PLAYRERS. He could be the player to again take advantage of the other players letdowns.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Travelers Championship (all for One Unit)
Matt Kuchar (+1,200)
Hunter Mahan (+1,500)
Padraig Harrington (+2,000)
John Rollins (+4,000)
Harris English (+5,000)
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