Travelers Championship preview

This week’s PGA tournament sees the players head to the East coast of America for one of the tour’s regular stopping-off points.

The action is in Cromwell, Connecticut and it’s the TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP.

Last year we landed a 33/1 winner here with Bubba Watson. Same again this year would do just fine!

Here’s a preview of the action in the “Constitution State”…

The Tournament

1952 was the year of the first staging of this event, then the Insurance City Open, and the tournament has undergone numerous name changes since then before finally settling on the current title in 2007. This same year also signalled its permanent position in the schedule, after some years of moving around the rota the Travelers Championship came to be held in the week after the US Open. As a result the field is never top quality… but this year’s renewal boasts a surprising number of big names.

The Course

TPC River Highlands is in Cromwell, Connecticut and has been the host course since 1984. It’s a par 70 spread over 6,841 yards. Originally opened in 1928, the course was re-designed by Pete Dye in 1982 and then underwent a further upgrade in 1989. But the typical course set-up is the opposite of what has gone on the week before at the US Open, so with generous fairways and more receptive putting surfaces, scoring can be low… as seen by Jim Furyk’s 58 (yes 58!) here a few years ago.

72-Hole Record – 258, Kenny Perry (2009)

18-Hole Record – 58, Jim Furyk (2016)

Past Winners – Bubba Watson (2018), Jordan Spieth (2017), Russell Knox (2016), Bubba Watson (2015), Kevin Streelman (2014).

The Field

No invites or reduced fields, so a standard 156 players will line-up in Cromwell this week. Brooks Koepka is the 8/1 favourite.

The Weather

Thursday (60%) looks the worst of the four days, with no rain forecast through the weekend. In fact the temperatures should rise through to a high somewhere in the low 80s on Sunday. Wind speeds will be little threat with a maximum of 12-14mph on the middle two days.

The Chances

 

Bubba Watson – $34 available

“Gerry Lester (aka Bubba) is a standing-dish in this tournament. A three-time winner (and we backed him 12 months ago) Watson comes here not in the best form, but River Highlands clearly brings the best out of him. And as stated several times before, Bubba is a guy who has repeat form in certain tournaments, being a 3-timer here in 2010, 2015 and 2018 plus a dual US Masters champion, and two-time Northern Trust winner. His last three starts read MC-63-MC, so backing him this week is obviously a risk, but his course form is so good, and his overall winning ability so clear, that it would be very fair to assume Watson will be much more “at it” this week. He also won here 12 months ago on the back of equally poor form that read 57-44-MC. Watson has to be backed this week.”

Phil Mickelson – $56 available

“I thought I might be alone in backing Lefty this week, but one or two other observers have highlighted Mickelson’s claims this week. And the 44-time PGA Tour winner can boast two wins here at River Highlands. Ok, they were in 2001 and 2002… but these were back-to-back, and he’s barely played here since. Now a bit like Watson, Mickelson comes to Connecticut in not the best of form. But time and again we’ve seen the top players flick the switch and burst back into life, and if he starts well, I can see Mickelson being a huge threat this week. Certainly compared to some of the market leaders he’s massive value at 50/1+ and a real no-brainer of a play.”

Charley Hoffman – $67 available

“A very solid tee-to-green performer it’s no surprise that Hoffman has a decent record here. And the figures 15-3-25-26-7-2 in his last six starts prove the point. Having sat out the US Open he comes here fresher than most, and his record in 2019 is slowly coming to hand with just one missed cut in his last 8 starts, and this includes Top 10’s at the Texas Open and Zurich Classic. The main issue with backing Hoffman is his ability, or rather his inability, to get the job done – often placing as opposed to closing out the win. He is a four-time winner on the PGA Tour though, so there’s clearly merit to expecting Hoffman to win again. Still, try and get any extra each-way places on offer just in case!”

Russell Henley – $91 available

“Henley likes it here. 11th in 2016 and then 6th last year. And he’s another who will benefit from this week’s shorter track, ranking down the lists for Driving Distance, but he’s accurate off the tee and his Greens-In-Regulation stats suggest his iron play remains on-point. Another who did not play at Pebble Beach, Henley can come here more rested than most, and with the Majors now coming thick and fast, it’s a wonder why some top names are playing again this week. Even so, as a three-time winner on tour Henley has beaten some good fields in the past so he more than deserves his place in the list of potential winners in Cromwell. And with three-figure quotes on offer he’s a solid each-way play for me.”

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