This is a letdown week with the U.S. Open peaking interest last weekend. The letdown not only comes because less is on the line but also because the field strength goes way down following a major championship. That’s the case at the Travelers Championship at TPC at River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.
The scoring will be different compared to the U.S. Open, 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 and ball striking and hitting greens are of the utmost importance. Last year, 14 players finished double-digits under par.
With the U.S. Open taking place last week, the field has been thinned out as just two players ranked in the OWGR Top 10 are here, as well as only three of the Top 10 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 Top 10s at the Travelers but has not played here since 2010 and he may not be ready mentally this week.
Bubba Watson (+2,000) is one of seven players at +2,500 or lower, but he is in the best shape of them all avoiding 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 and pick up his first tour win since the 2009 Reno-Tahoe Open. He has had success at the TPC, with a T4 last year while posting a T2 in 2011. That history is great to have but it is bolstered by his recent form. His two Top 10s 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 on his way to win the 2012 Travelers, shooting 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 the last three years and his current form won't bring him down. He has four Top 10s 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 10s this season. At the Travelers, he has a T9 and a T8 in two of the last three years. Last year’s scorecard featured 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) can’t do it - and at long-shot odds as well. 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 Top 10s 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