I just realized that my other life took over yesterday afternoon and I didn’t post Horses for Courses.
Apologies to all of you not on Twitter, but you can always find that column, if you look hard enough, at PGATOUR.com on Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the TOUR lands in Connecticut for the annual Bubba Watson Invitational presented by Paul Casey this week.
68th Travelers Championship
TPC River Highlands
|Yards (per official scorecard):||6,841|
|Greens:||5,000 square feet; Bent/Poa annua.|
|Rough:||Kentucky Bluegrass, fescue starting at 3.5 inches.|
|Architect(s):||Pete Dye (1982); Bobby Weed (1989);|
500 FedExCup Points. $1.296 million (winner).
|Defending Champion:||Bubba Watson (263).|
|Notes:||Top 70 and ties make the cut.|
|2018||Bubba Watson||263||Won for the third time; second time he’s come from six back to do so.|
|2017||Jordan Spieth||268||Maiden victory at the event (playoff over Daniel Berger) and first to go wire-to-wire (no ties) since 1982.|
|2016||Russell Knox||266||Chased down Berger’s three-shot lead on Sunday to win by a shot.|
|2015||Bubba Watson||264||Won for the second time as he defeated Paul Casey in a playoff.|
|2014||Kevin Streelman||265||Began four back on Sunday of Ryan Moore’s lead but birdied the final seven to win by one.|
|2013||Ken Duke||268||Defeated Chris Stroud in a playoff for his first win on TOUR at age 44.|
|2012||Marc Leishman||264||Came from six back as he closed with 62 for his first TOUR win.|
|2011||Freddie Jacobson||260||Missed Kenny Perry’s tournament record by two shots; Picked up his first TOUR win defeating Moore by a shot.|
|2010||Bubba Watson||266||First of three wins this decade; came from six behind to force a playoff and win for the first time on TOUR.|
|Safeway Open||Kevin Tway**|
|CIMB Classic||Marc Leishman|
|CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES||Brooks Koepka|
|Sanderson Farms Championship||Cameron Champ**|
|WGC-HSBC Champions||Xander Schauffele|
|Shriners Hospitals for Children||Bryson DeChambeau|
|Mayakoba Golf Classic||Matt Kuchar|
|The RSM Classic||Charles Howell III|
|Hero World Challenge*||Jon Rahm|
|Sentry TOC||Xander Schauffele (2)|
|Sony Open in Hawaii||Matt Kuchar (2)|
|60th Desert Classic||Adam Long**|
|Farmers Insurance Open||Justin Rose|
|Waste Management||Rickie Fowler|
|AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am||Phil Mickelson|
|Genesis Open||J.B. Holmes|
|WGC-Mexico Championship||Dustin Johnson|
|The Honda Classic||Keith Mitchell**|
|Arnold Palmer Invitational||Francesco Molinari|
|THE PLAYERS||Rory McIlroy|
|Valspar Championship||Paul Casey|
|WGC-Match Play||Kevin Kisner|
|Corales Punta Cana||Graeme McDowell|
|Valero Texas Open||Corey Conners**|
|83rd Masters Tournament||Tiger Woods|
|RBC Heritage||C.T. Pan**|
|Zurich Classic of New Orleans||Ryan Palmer & Jon Rahm (2)|
|Wells Fargo Championship||Max Homa**|
|AT&T Byron Nelson||Sung Kang**|
|PGA Championship||Brooks Koepka (2)|
|Charles Schwab Challenge||Kevin Na|
|RBC Canadian Open||Rory McIlroy (2)|
|United States Open||Gary Woodland|
(* unofficial event; **First-time winner)
Facts and Figures:
|Tournament Record:||258; Kenny Perry, 2009.|
|Course Record:||58; Jim Furyk, Round 3, 2016.|
|Defending Champions (entered):||Phil Mickelson (2001-2002).|
|Multiple Winners (entered)||Watson (3), Mickelson (2)|
|First TOUR win:||2010-2013 (see above).|
|First Appearance (last):||Spieth, 2017.|
|Odd Fact:||Of the last six winners, three won in a playoff.|
|Odd Fact II:||Only three international winners since 1996.|
|Odd Fact III:||Watson’s three-shot win was the only margin of victory larger than one shot this decade.|
The Confidence Factor was the weekly column I wrote for PGATOUR.COM. It has evolved into Horses for Courses. I’ve included the link here for you.
Sure, it’s not a major but this is sixth consecutive event on Bent/Poa (Bethpage, Colonial, Memorial, RBC CO and Pebble) and sixth consecutive event with normal or below normal green sizes (less than 6,000 square feet on average).
Gamers enjoy familiarity and so do the players and the Travelers provides plenty of history to lean upon.
Of the last nine winners, five have played the U.S. Open so don’t let that knock you over.
Last time the U.S. Open was played on the West Coast (2015), Bubba Watson missed the cut and then won this event. He MC again last year at Shinnecock and added another victory after that short commute. Heck, even U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka dropped by and closed with 65 for T19.
Jordan Spieth was T35 at Erin Hills before winning in 2017.
Russell Knox was T23 at Oakmont before his victory in 2016.
In these modern times guys make their own schedules and have premium transportation options so I’m not sweating the travel or the back-to-back events. Hell, every player GUSHED about how great Pebble Beach. They didn’t have to wait out rain delays or grind over every shot so I’m leaning on them being on the proper side mentally and physically.
There’s not much mystery in what flies this week as those who find more of the smallish greens will have plenty of chances to roll in birdies. Cleanliness around the greens, pitching in or saving par, won’t hurt either and neither will scoring on the Par-4 holes. Watson has won this event twice in the last four years with a great short-game week and a great ball-striking week. Looks like there is more than one way to tame this tiny ballpark!
The average winning score suggests rounds in the 70s won’t be of any use this week so find guys who aren’t afraid to post low numbers. The short course should push more players into contention but the last two winners have been major champions.
Patrick Cantlay: The hottest player, for my money, in the field this week returns to a track where he carded 60 as an amateur in Round 2 in 2011 (T24). He returned last year for T15 with four rounds in the 60s including 65 in Round 3.
Bubba Watson: I’m probably stretching here but the one angle pro gamers have learned about Watson is to jump in with both feet in events that demand his full attention. His form never concerns me entering this week because he never plays well at the U.S. Open.
Paul Casey: Quietly jumped into the top 25 with a closing 67 last week at Pebble Beach and returns to a track where he’s done everything but win. His stroke average is a comical 67.06 and any lingering doubt from his WD at Colonial should be long gone.
Jordan Spieth: The 2017 champ was sniffing around with three consecutive top-10 paydays before a tough weekend at Pebble Beach. His eye must like what it sees here as he’s opened with 63 in both of his visits the last two years.
Brooks Koepka: THE DISRESPECT OF BEING FIFTH on this list should power him to victory. It’s obvious his attention is on the major championships but his talent should push him into the top 10 weekly. Only one man in the last three years has beaten him in the U.S. Open. Hahahahahahahahaha. Wow.
Bryson DeChambeau: I’m trying to catch him on the UP this week as he’s trending at the course and in his game. Closing with 66 at Memorial grabbed my attention for Pebble. Bookends of 69 at the U.S. Open are more evidence of the ship righting itself.
Brandt Snedeker: Last year (MC) was the first tournament in five where he didn’t post 63 or 64 here. I’m not forgetting about his T4 in Canada before his stumble (77th) last week at Pebble. Last time there was a west coast US Open he finished eighth at Chambers and T10 the next weekend here.
Jason Day: New bagman resulted in three rounds under-par in a U.S. Open including a closing 69. These two getting off to a decent start should help gamers who have been on the fence using Day for the rest of the season.
Louis Oosthuizen: NO DOUBT that he WD since I’ve put him in here after his top 10 last week! As usual, he shows up at a major to rope all of us in. That sweet, sweet swing combined with his sweet short game screams tempts us all. He’s a great investment until he’s not.
Marc Leishman: Sprang to life at Memorial (solo 5th) after a dire April and May and backed it up with a solid T35 at Pebble Beach. He put the scare into gamers when he WD late at Trinity Forest with a bum neck/back deal thingy. He also stung gamers with a MC here last year after eight straight.
Chez Reavie: Coming off his best finish in a major his confidence won’t an issue. Coming off T14 (PGA) and T3 (U.S. Open) in the last two majors his confidence won’t be an issue. Coming off T28 or better in four of his last five on TOUR his confidence won’t be an issue.
Kevin Streelman: Half of his last six on TOUR are T6 or better including solo fourth at Memorial. His horse-for-course pushes him into this conversation as he makes his 12th start here.
J.B. Holmes: Since his win at Riviera he’s done absolutely nothing. Finishing T2 here last year will obviously push some contrarians in his direction. I’ll point out that T37 was his best finish in five tries here before last year. Last year he was solo third the week before the U.S. Open (DNP Shinnecock) before arriving at TPC River Highlands. Apples and oranges for me.
Patrick Reed: Wonderfully all-or-nothing here and his closing 68 at Pebble Beach brings even more temptation into the equation. He’s killed the Par-5 holes here and 10 of his 22 rounds are 67 or better. His last top 25 on his own ball? Mexico City in February. Gulp.
Justin Thomas: OK, rust should be gone but I’m more interested in scores than press conferences.
Brian Harman: I don’t think I’m reaching here as I was maybe earlier this month. He’s rattled off three straight weekends after a dire winter. A pair of top-six finishes in his last four here should help boost his case.
Emiliano Grillo: Just cruising along and plenty will see T58 last week not the run of form in the non-majors before it.
Charley Hoffman: His best two finishes this spring are on courses he’s annually played well. TPC River Highlands more than checks that box.
Sebastian Munoz: He’s flying into CT on T38, T10, T7 and T11 in his last four on TOUR. Only sharp gamers will point out one of those paydays were on the Web.com but I’m more interested in the run of form.
Adam Hadwin: Had the week off after contending in the B Flight at the RBC CO (6th) and should be ready to extend his streak to seven straight paydays.
Daniel Berger: Similar to Casey, he’s done everything but win here as Spieth knocked him out in a playoff in 2017 after he couldn’t hold his 54-hole lead in 2016. He’s making cuts, seven straight on TOUR, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the break-out week.
Ryan Moore: As you read above he’s probably a bit sour that he doesn’t have at least one win at this track. He’ll gladly fly under the radar this week but not mine.
Sungjae Im: Remind me why I shouldn’t and I’ll listen. Flushed a four tournament cold streak with solo seventh at RBC CO. Fantastic rookie has five top 10s in 2019 alone.
Keegan Bradley: With no more Boston on the schedule this becomes the de facto “home” game on the east coast. He’s comfortable here as he’s never missed in eight tries.
Russell Knox: I’ll always give a recent past champion the benefit of the doubt especially in a course where tee-to-green play is my tiebreaker.
Kevin Tway: Six in a row on TOUR and T6 last year, I LOVE to HATE converging trends.
Functioning Form/Long Shots/Etc.
U OTTA NO
Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff, Collin Morikawa and Justin Suh are all in the field this week.
If you initial reaction is/was “who are those guys?” you’re probably new to fantasy golf or this column.
All of that is completely acceptable as my job is to shed light, not to master.
If you’re not aware of Hovland after his performance last week at Pebble Beach (after the Masters), then you’re beyond help, haha.
Morikawa opened his pro career with T14 at RBC CO and backed it up with T35 at Pebble Beach after going through local qualifying.
Well, I had Gary Woodland in here last week and look where that got me!
Sung Kang: Only two of 13 rounds here are under par and a late WD in Canada provides more doubt than answers.
Phil Mickelson: Sweet contrarian play based on his past but that was a lifetime ago. Will he play more rounds at TPC River Highlands or Winged Foot this week?