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by Matt Fargo - 06/19/2013
As with any golf fan, this is a letdown week after a Major, as the U.S. Open concluded Sunday with Justin Rose capturing his first Major Championship. 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 Merion where every player in the field finished over par. The last 19 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, 14 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 even though last year was an aberration as it ranked 26th our of 49 spots in difficulty. 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 as just two players ranked in the OWGR top ten are here as well as only three of the top ten from the FedEx Cup Standings. Just six tournament winners from this year are teeing it up so the possibility is there once again to crown a first-timer. Seven of the past eight Travelers Champions are here including the last three winners. Last week's U.S. Open winner Justin Rose is also in Cromwell.
To no surprise, Rose (+1,200) is the favorite this week on the heels of his U.S. Open victory. He will try and avoid a letdown from his first ever Major but that will be tough to do. Last year, Webb Simpson came here after his first Major win and finished T29. Rose does have three tops tens at the Travelers but has not played here since 2010 and mentally I cannot see him ready this week.
Bubba Watson (+2,000) is once of seven players at +2,500 or lower but he is in the best shape of them all in not having a letdown or a hangover from the U.S. Open. He finished T32 and was never really in contention after the second day. He won this event in 2010, which was his first ever win on tour, and it was no fluke as he backed it up with a T2 last year, finishing one shot off the lead.
John Rollins (+3,000) could take advantage of the light field to pick up his first tour win since the 2009 Reno-Tahoe Open. He has had success at the TPC as he had a T4 last year while posting a T2 in 2011. That history is great to have but it is bolstered by his recent form as his two top tens this year came in his last two starts, a T4 at Colonial and a solo sixth at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Charley Hoffman (+4,000) was looking like we was on his way to win the 2012 Travelers as he was seven under through 13 on Sunday but finished the last five holes three over with a double on 17 and a bogey on 18. He has been around on the weekend here the last three years and his current form won't bring him down as he has four top tens this season including three in his final eight starts.
Birdies are available everywhere here and Brendon de Jonge (+4,000) is one player that can take advantage. He is second on tour in birdies made with 252 so keeping that up along with avoiding big numbers should have him in the hunt. He has missed only four cuts while posting three top tens this season and at the Travelers, he has a T9 and a T8 in two of the last three years. Last year included 19 birdies and one eagle.
We have not seen back-to-back winners here since Phil Mickelson in 2001 and 2002 but there is no reason to think Marc Leishman (+5,000) cannot do it and at longshot odds on top of it. He backdoored his way in to the win last year but did shoot a Sunday 62 so he deserved it. Additionally, he had 21 birdies over the course of four rounds. He has four tops tens this year, three of which were in April and May.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Travelers Championship (all for One Unit)
Bubba Watson (+2,000)
John Rollins (+3,000)
Charley Hoffman (+4,000)
Brendon de Jonge (+4,000)
Marc Leishman (+5,000)
2012 Record to date after 36 events: +51.6 Units
2013 Record to date after 22 events: -20.4 Units
Hyundai Tournament of Champions -5 Units
Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units
Humana Challenge - 5 Units
Farmer Insurance Open +3.5 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open +19 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship +25.66 units
The Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units
Tampa Bay Championship -5 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -1.5 Units
Shell Houston Open -5 Units
The Masters -8 Units
RBC Heritage +27 Units
Zurich Classic of New Orleans -5 Units
The Wells Fargo Championship -5 Units
THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units
HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units
Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial -5 Units
Memorial Tournament -5 Units
FedEx St. Jude Classic -5 Units
U.S. Open -6 Units