While the world’s top players take a week off after the U.S. Open, 11 guys will be looking to become two-time winners in 2011 and defending champion Bubba Watson will look to become a three-time winner this year at the Travelers Championship just outside of Hartford, Connecticut. The TPC River Highlands is a relatively short par 70 that is very tamable and you only have to go back to last year when 20 players finished double digits below par to see it is a very different venue from a U.S. Open course. It is typical for a shorter par 70 course like this to favor shot makers and to take away the advantage the bombers have with their length. That isn’t necessarily the case at River Highlands, though. While a PGA event has been held here every year since 1984, a look at the last ten years shows winners with all different types of profiles… from 2-time winner Phil Mickelson to the control game of a Brad Faxon to last year’s champion, Bubba Watson, who overpowered the course with his length. Here’s a look at my favorites this week in the Travelers Championship:
Webb Simpson +3000- I think he’s a star in the making and he’s played well in his three previous appearances at the Travelers. He has 8 top 20s, 4 top 10s and two runner-up finishes in 2011 and his Saturday 66 at Congressional shows his game is in good shape coming to a course he likes. This could be where he gets over the hump and finally wins one.
Bubba Watson +2000- Although he hasn’t finished inside the top 40 since his win in New Orleans in early May, he’s the defending champion and showed with is 14-under performance over 4 days last year how a power guy can really tame this par 70 layout. You have to believe he’ll get his confidence back this week.
Hunter Mahan +1400- A disappointing showing last week in the U.S. Open shouldn’t affect Mahan on a course where he’s found a ton of success including 3 straight years in the top 5 (2007-09) and a win in ’07. If you look at his body of work prior to Congressional, he has been playing very well of late.