Top 5 Players For The Travelers Championship
Five Players To Watch At The Travelers Championship
After the drama that the U.S. Open always provides, players and fans alike will likely enjoy a lighter week of golf. Thankfully, the Travelers Championship is here to provide just that.
That’s not to say there won’t be some tremendous golf played, or that the stakes aren’t still tremendously important. The closer we get to the end of the season, the more precious every FedEx Cup point gets for anybody with designs on the season championship. Of course, the winner’s check and everything that goes with it don’t hurt much either.
Unlike the vicious test provided by Merion Golf Club last week with its 500-plus yard “par-4’s”, TPC at River Highlands will be friendlier to golfers’ scorecards as well as their psyches. Last year’s lowest finishers, Arjun Atwal and Jamie Lovemark, shot 3-over-par, or the same score Phil Mickelson just shot to earn his sixth second-place finish at the U.S. Open.
The course measures even shorter than Merion, coming in at only 6,841 yards. One of the shortest courses on the Tour schedule, River Highlands features one of the more entertaining holes in golf. The par-4 15th is only 296 yards long, easily reachable in one by several of the Tour’s longer hitters. With bombers like Bubba Watson and Keegan Bradley in the field, fireworks are all but certain.
The Travelers is a fan-favorite event on Tour, traditionally having the highest attendance other than the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Having this type of event immediately following a major championship would normally lead to a downturn in interest, but with several big-name players looking to recharge their batteries from such a stressful week, the 2013 Travelers Championship should be a great tournament. Let’s take a look at my top five picks for the week.
5) Keegan Bradley
It's easy to forget with some of his recent results, but Keegan Bradley has been playing well enough this year to rack up six top-10 finishes, so he's clearly still got the ability. His biggest drawback right now is his poor greens in regulation percentage is 65.14 percent, good for 85th on Tour. However, ranked 13th on Tour in the all-around and 30th in Strokes Gained Putting, Bradley cannot be counted out this week.
4) Justin Rose
There are some who think that his whirlwind week following the U.S. Open victory will keep Justin Rose from performing at his peak at the Travelers. I don't think that will necessarily be the deciding factor, but with little time to practice and focus on his game, he may get off to a rocky start. Still, you have to like Rose's chances coming off the biggest win of his life so far. Sixth in Greens In Regulation, 13th in Birdie Average and second in Scoring Average, Rose has a great chance to make an impact again this week.
3) Rickie Fowler
Always difficult to predict, Rickie Fowler is coming off a difficult Sunday at the U.S. Open that saw him slip to a tie for 10th place at Merion. When Fowler gets in a groove, though, the birdies can come in bunches, and he's still looking for his second career Tour victory. 32nd in total putting, his flatstick has made up for his occasional lack of ball-striking accuracy. I like the short track to provide Fowler with some excellent short-game opportunities this week.
2) Bubba Watson
It's hard to believe that Bubba Watson hasn't won a tournament since his landmark victory at last year's Masters, but that could very well change this week in Connecticut. Watson has great history at this venue, with his first career win coming at this tournament in 2010. He also finished tied for second in last year's event, beaten only by Marc Leishman's incredible six-under 62 on Sunday.
Watson's trademark length off the tee is sometimes undercut by his inability to keep the ball in play, but he's ranked an impressive fifth in greens in regulation and birdie average. Despite his relatively disappointing record this season, I'm looking for some big things out of Bubba this week.
1) Hunter Mahan
The popular thought is that Hunter Mahan may be down following a disappointing finish at the U.S. Open that had him in the final pairing on Sunday, only to fall out of contention with some ill-timed bogeys. While that may be the case, I think Mahan can channel that frustration to excellent results this week. He's won this tournament before and finished second twice. You don't just get that type of performance from dumb luck. If he can take advantage of all the good things that had him close at Merion, he should be the favorite to take home the hardware this week.
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