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BlogTravelers Championship Preview and Picks

Travelers Championship

June 19 – 22, 2014

TPC at River Highlands

Cromwell, Conn.

Par: 70 / Yardage: 6,854

Purse: $6.2 million

with $1,116,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Ken Duke

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 16 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with four players from the top-ten #3 Bubba Watson, #5 Matt Kuchar, Jason Day and #8 Sergio Garcia. The other top 50 players are #15 Dustin Johnson, #16 Zach Johnson, #23 Keegan Bradley, #29 Patrick Reed, #32 Brandt Snedeker, #35 Graham DeLaet, #38 Jonas Blixt, $40 Hunter Mahan, #43 Louis Oosthuizen, #44 Ryan Moore, #48 Harris English and #49 Matt Jones.  Last year this event had 18 top-50 players so their are two less playing this year.

The field includes 10 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2014.  Those players are #2 Bubba Watson, #3 Matt Kuchar, #4 Dustin Johnson, #8 Patrick Reed, #9 Harris English, #15 Zach Johnson, #19 Ryan Moore, #20 Keegan Bradley, #21 Kevin Stadler and #24 Graham DeLaet.

The field includes 11 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list. those players are #1 Bubba Watson, #3 Dustin Johnson, #5 Matt Kuchar, #7 Patrick Reed, #11 Harris English, #17 Jason Day, #18 Zach Johnson, #19 Ryan Moore, #202 Sergio Garcia, #23 Graham DeLaet and #25 Keegan Bradley.

The field includes 11 players that have won 13 events on the PGA Tour this year: Ryan Moore (CIMB CLassic), Dustin Johnson (WGC-HSBC Champions); Harris English (OHL Classic at Mayakoba); Zach Johnson (Hyundai T of C); Patrick Reed (Humana & Cadillac); Kevin Stadler (WM Phoenix); Bubba Watson (Northern Trust & Masters); Jason Day (WGC-Accenture); Matt Jones (Shell Houston); Matt Kuchar (RBC Heritage) and Seung-Yul Noh (Zurich).

The field includes six past champions: Ken Duke (2013), Marc Leishman (2012), Fredrik Jacobson (2011), Bubba Watson (2010), Hunter Mahan (2007), J.J. Henry (2006).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Traveler’s field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Traveler’s field in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Traveler’s field.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

 

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Travelers Championship

Player U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Lyoness Open Memorial Nordea Masters Colonial BMW PGA Byron Nelson Open Espana The Players Wells Fargo Zurich Classic
Dustin Johnson
(250.67 pts)
T4
(160)
T24
(26)
DNP
 
T46
(4)
DNP
 
T14
(24)
DNP
 
T7
(36.67)
DNP
 
T59
(0)
DNP
 
DNP
 
Erik Compton
(222.67 pts)
T2
(200)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
T34
(16)
DNP
 
T5
(23.33)
Keegan Bradley
(193.67 pts)
T4
(160)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T37
(13)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T29
(14)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T8
(16.67)
Matt Kuchar
(174 pts)
T12
(76)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T15
(35)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
T7
(36.67)
DNP
 
T17
(33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
Jason Day
(173 pts)
T4
(160)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T37
(13)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Ben Crane
(124 pts)
DNP
 
Win
(132)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T37
(8.67)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Sergio Garcia
(123 pts)
T35
(30)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
WD
(-5)
DNP
 
T38
(8)
3
(90)
DNP
 
DNP
 
Marc Leishman
(119.33 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T37
(13)
DNP
 
T21
(19.33)
DNP
 
T3
(60)
DNP
 
T23
(27)
DNP
 
DNP
 
Brendon De Jonge
(113.33 pts)
T28
(44)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T28
(22)
DNP
 
T30
(13.33)
DNP
 
T29
(14)
DNP
 
70
(0)
T6
(20)
DNP
 
Andrew Svoboda
(113 pts)
DNP
 
T6
(60)
DNP
 
T19
(31)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T44
(2)
T2
(33.33)
Paul Casey
(92 pts)
T56
(0)
T24
(26)
DNP
 
T13
(37)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
T16
(22.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T11
(13)
Troy Merritt
(90.67 pts)
DNP
 
2
(100)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
T48
(0.67)
Brandt Snedeker
(88.67 pts)
T9
(90)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T45
(3.33)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
T48
(2)
DNP
 
DNP
 
Bo Van Pelt
(84 pts)
T63
(0)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T19
(31)
DNP
 
T14
(24)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T26
(24)
CUT
(-3.33)
T25
(8.33)
James Hahn
(83.33 pts)
DNP
 
T6
(60)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
T5
(46.67)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Carl Pettersson
(73.33 pts)
DNP
 
T3
(90)
DNP
 
T62
(0)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
T45
(3.33)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
T69
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
Bubba Watson
(72 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP
 
DNP
 
3
(90)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T48
(2)
DNP
 
DNP
 
Aaron Baddeley
(71 pts)
T23
(54)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T37
(13)
DNP
 
T51
(0)
DNP
 
T29
(14)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
Robert Streb
(69.67 pts)
DNP
 
T46
(4)
DNP
 
T28
(22)
DNP
 
T38
(8)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T23
(9)
T2
(33.33)
Brian Harman
(67.33 pts)
DNP
 
T6
(60)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T30
(13.33)
DNP
 
T29
(14)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
T65
(0)
DNP
 
Charley Hoffman
(66.33 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T19
(31)
DNP
 
T51
(0)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T38
(12)
DNP
 
T5
(23.33)
Ryan Moore
(63 pts)
T48
(4)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T19
(31)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
T26
(24)
T18
(10.67)
DNP
 
Freddie Jacobson
(61.33 pts)
DNP
 
T60
(0)
DNP
 
T49
(1)
DNP
 
T3
(60)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
64
(0)
DNP
 
T29
(7)
Kevin Chappell
(59 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T10
(26.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T26
(24)
T11
(13)
T34
(5.33)
Zach Johnson
(56 pts)
T40
(20)
T53
(0)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
73
(0)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T26
(24)
T14
(12)
DNP
 

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Travelers Championship

Player U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Lyoness Open Memorial Nordea Masters Colonial BMW PGA Byron Nelson Open Espana The Players Wells Fargo Zurich Classic
D.A. Points
(-55 pts)
CUT
(-20)
WD
(-5)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
T52
(0)
Chad Collins
(-45 pts)
CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
T45
(1.67)
Hudson Swafford
(-43.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Mark Wilson
(-41 pts)
CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T72
(0)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
T23
(9)
CUT
(-3.33)
Nick Watney
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T55
(0)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
T75
(0)
Ken Duke
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T51
(0)
DNP
 
T57
(0)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T75
(0)
Bobby Gates
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
Kevin Streelman
(-38 pts)
CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
T14
(12)
DNP
 
Y.E. Yang
(-37 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
T23
(9)
T48
(0.67)
Jim Renner
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
T68
(0)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T69
(0)
T70
(0)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

  • The U.S. Open was very successful, Martin Kaymer has proven to be a force to reckon with.  Funny because he always plays well at the Traveler, but Bubba Watson winner of the Masters and Kaymer are two totally different players.  We are seeing that with Watson it’s hit or miss, while Kaymer’s game is good just about anyplace.
  • Hard to believe that there are still two majors left but the PGA Tour season only has nine weeks left before the FedEx Cup playoffs.
  • The Travelers is one of the healthiest events on tour, just shows the importance of a sponsor that doesn’t mind spending some money and being a part of a community event.  On a national scale this event may not be very big, but for the folks of Hartford this is like a World Series.  Not only the PGA Tour but the LPGA and the Champions Tour need more events and sponsors like this.  The LPGA had a number of them like Corning before Carolyn Bivens scared them away and are trying hard to bring back some of them

Tournament information:

This is the 63rd annual Travelers Championship. The tournament was founded by the United States Junior Chambers in 1952 after an attempt to raise money from a turtle race the previous year failed. The Cromwell, Connecticut-based tournament was originally known as the Insurance City Open. The chief goal of the tournament since its inception has been to raise funds for the USJC’s philanthropic endeavors. In the inaugural tournament, war-hero Ted Kroll captured the crown, the second of his career. Four years later, the Insurance City Open served as a launching pad for Arnold Palmer as he notched his second win on the PGA Tour and the first on American soil in the 1956 Insurance City Open.

The Insurance City Open underwent a name change in 1967 when it became the Greater Hartford Open. The tournament’s original goal was given a boost when, in 1971, defending champion Bob Murphy donated $20,000 of his 1970 winnings to start the Greater Hartford Chapter of the “Jaycees.” The year 1973 was momentous for the Greater Hartford Open. In an effort to further boost tournament notoriety, entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., who frequently participated in the Pro-Am events, lent his name to Greater Hartford Open. Also in 1973, Billy Casper won his record fourth and final Greater Hartford Open. In 1985, the first major corporate sponsor for the event surfaced in the form of Canon USA.

Starting in 1985 the event added Canon to the its name; however, the name would be altered just three years later. In 1988, Sammy Davis Jr. was removed from the name, and beginning in 1989, the tournament was became known as the Canon Greater Hartfod Open. By 2001, the tournament had grown to previously unrealized levels. Phil Mickelson’s personal best 61 as well as appearances by Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino headlined the tournament, which saw a record 318,000 spectators come out to watch the 50th annual Canon Greater Hartford Open. In 2004, a three-year partnership was forged between Buick and the GHO. The result was the Buick Championship. After the three-year contract expired, however, Buick decided not to renew the contract. Consequently, St. Paul Traveler’s stepped in to become the new title sponsor.

Course information:

  • TPC River Highlands
  • Cromwell, Ct.
  • 6,854 yards     Par 35-35–70
  • The TPC River Highlands has experienced as many changes as the name of the tournament it hosts. The original piece of property was designed in 1928 by R.J. Ross, cousin to the more notable golf course designer Donald Ross. The course was tied to the Edgewood Country Club. However, when the Greater Hartford Open was searching for a larger venue than its home at Wethersfield Country Club in 1982, the Edgewood Country Club seemed like a perfect fit. Before the venue was fit to host a major PGA event, course renovations were necessary. The Greater Hartford Chapter of the USJC hired Pete Dye to renovate the Edgewood Country Club golf course. Dye’s finished product, known as The TPC Connecticut, hosted the Greater Hartford Open in 1984. One of the key features to the new course, especially the back nine, was the incorporation of amphitheatres to improve a fan’s viewing experience. In 1989, a re-design team that consisted of Bobby Weed, and consultants Howard Twitty and Roger Maltbie, made some additional changes. After the renovation, the course became known as the TPC River Highlands.
  • The golf course itself is forgiving. The par-70 course, measuring at 6,841 yards, has a Course Rating of 72.7 and a Slope Rating of 131. The tees and fairways are a 3/8″ cut of Bent Grass, while the greens are a 1/8″ cut of Bent Grass. The rough consists of a mixture of Kentucky Blue Grass, Perennial Rye Grass, and fine Fescue cut at just over 6 inches. The 132-acre venue has 119 bunkers and five water hazards that come into play on six holes. Golf Digest rated TPC at River Highlands as one of the six best courses in the state of Connecticut. Another notable achievements for the TPC at River Highlands was that it was the 49th course to become fully-certified in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses (ACSP), which promotes ecologically sound land management and the conservation of natural resources.
  • Holes No. 4 and 10 provide the biggest challenge. The fourth hole is the most difficult on the golf course. It’s a severe dog-leg right that measures 460 yards. The tee-shot requires a heavy fade to reach the fairway, while avoiding the tree-line on the right-hand side. From there, the approach shot goes into a tight green with a bunker guarding the front left. As for the 10th hole, the 460-yard par 4 requires a slight draw to the left-hand side of a tiny fairway to avoid the large fairway bunker on the right. From the fairway, the player aims for a green that is protected by a front left and back right bunker. The most famous portion of the course, the three-hole stretch from 15 to 17, incorporates a four-acre lake that is affectionately dubbed the “Golden Triangle.” Those three holes, along with the 18th, make up one of the top finishing stretches on the PGA Tour.
  • In summer 2008 the new practice facility opened. The 23.5-acre facility is adjacent to the new First Tee of Connecticut nine-hole golf course that is in its initial phase of construction.
  • In 2013 TPC River Highlands played to a 70.25 scoring average, jut a quarter of a shot over par.  It ranked as the 20th hardest course on the PGA Tour.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Travelers:

Key stat for the winner:

The TPC at River Highlands is a different type of TPC course.  Since it was a reconfiguration of a traditional, old style course it still has some of that flavor.  Most of the greens are small, raised or crowned, making it a scrambler’s delight.  The tournament is well supported in the community — as many as 80,000 spectators could be in attendance this week — so the timid need not apply.  Another factor that comes into play is the fact that the tournament has close finishes every year (except of course in 2009 when Kenny Perry won by three).  Since it moved away from Wethersfield in 1983, 20 of the 28 tournaments have been decided by either a shot or a playoff, including in 2010 when Bubba Watson beat Scott Verplank and Corey Pavin in extra holes.  In 2012 Marc Leishman was a shot better than Charley Hoffman and Bubba Watson.  Last year it was another playoff, with Ken Duke getting the better of Chris Stroud.  Here is a chart that shows exactly how close tournaments have been in the 62-year history of the Travelers Championship:

  • Tournaments tied after 72 holes: 21
  • Tournaments won by one shot: 21
  • Tournaments won by two shots: 8
  • Tournaments won by three shots: 5
  • Tournaments won by four shots or more: 7

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

Hitting it far is more important than accuracy because the last ten of 14 champions have been in the top-13 of the driving distance stat while only six winner have  broken into the top-ten of the accuracy stat just once.  Last year’s winner Ken Duke was 57th in driving distance and T10th in accuracy.

Playing the par 4s well is another key. Of the last 17 champions, ten have played those holes in 8-under or better, with Notah Begay III playing them in 16-under in 2000. Last year Duke played the par 4s in 8-under par.

Hitting greens will be at a premium. Just like in a U.S. Open, hitting lots of greens goes a long way in this event.  Normally you would look for the winner to hit globs of greens but that hasn’t been the case the last three years as Bubba Watson in 2010 was T30th in greens hit but T4th in putting, Freddie Jacobson in 2011 was T34th in greens hit but T3rd in putting, in 2012 Marc Leishman was T28th in greens hit and T11th in putting while last year Ken Duke was T-62nd in greens hit but 2nd in putting.

Now I don’t want to jinx the tournament, but weather in Connecticut should be OK for the the whole week but as always in the Northeast on hot, muggy days there is always a possibility of pop-up thunderstorms.  But on a whole look for good weather.

Who to watch for at the Travelers Championship

Best Bets:

Bubba Watson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
4 T2 T38 Win T14 T6   CUT        

He is trying to become the next Phil Mickelson in which you never know what he will do next. Bubba missed the cut at the U.S. Open but comes to a course that he has had good moments on. He also has experienced some weird finishes like he did in 2012 when he had the tournament won until he hit it in the water on 16. Still he will be the favorite and plays the best of any in the field this year.

Ryan Moore

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T7 T47 T2 T13 T4 CUT T33 T2        

Course if perfect for him and look for him to play well.

Matt Kuchar

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
  T8       T52     T36 CUT CUT CUT

Another good spot for him, hasn’t played well in over a month but he will get it back.

Best of the rest:

Jason Day

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
          T27            

Played great at Pinehurst, look for him to have a great week.

Sergio Garcia

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
        T43             T20

Wonder why he is playing here, he must know something and maybe it will be a great week for him.

Dustin Johnson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
        WD T34            

Played indifferently at Pinehurst, so he could be perfect this week.

Graham DeLaet

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
3 68 CUT T68                

Was third last year, look for another strong performance this week.

Solid contenders

Hunter Mahan

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T24 T11 T43 CUT T4 T2 Win T2 T54 T21 CUT  

Has been in the top-ten four times in this event.

Keegan Bradley

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T18 T29 T63                  

We are still waiting for him to have that one good start this year.

Erik Compton

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T30                      

We all hope that last week was just a preview of what Erik can do.

Freddie Jacobson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T30 T8 Win   CUT   CUT T48        

Has had great success in this event, look for another good week.

Long shots that could come through:

Paul Casey

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
First time playing in this event

Has been doing well in spurts, just needs some consistency.

Charley Hoffman

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T7 T2 T43 T27     CUT          

Was T7th last year, T2nd in 2012, so can he continue the good play this week?

Chris Stroud

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
2 T37 T17 T42 T26 70 WD          

Would like to improve upon last year’s performance

Comments

  1. Benjamin Liss says:

    Sal – great preview. 7 straight weeks for Dustin Johnson, I am almost in shock, u?

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