Any tournament held the week after a major is sure to have some big names not attend. This week at The Travelers Championship, as you would figure, that is the case. No Tiger. No Lefty. No Rors and no Luke. Still, the field isn’t as thin as you would think. On to that in a few.
How about looking at the course at TPC River Highlands.
The 6,844 yard, par-70 course is one of the easier courses (ranking 41 out of 51) and that usually adds up to low scores. Considering all the struggles we saw last week, this will be a stark difference from that of The Olympic Club. In fact, the lowest round ever carded occurred just last year when Patrick Cantlay posted a spectacular 60. Cantlay posted 30-30, so he didn’t prefer the front nine or the back nine. He went on to a T24 finish.
The hole deemed the hardest last year, and for the past 25 the tournament has taken place at TPC River Highlands, is #4. The wind can (and usually does) play havoc. Last year, the dogleg-right, 460-yard par-4 averaged 4.233 strokes. With a tee box inserted among trees and a narrowing landing area, the tee shot is critical. Go left…a large bunker. It will take a 311 yard drive to reach this one. Go right…two smaller bunkers and they lurk only 269 yards away.
The easiest for 2011 was the 523-yard par-5 13th hole. Strange that a hole with no water and only a trio of bunkers could play harder than a par-5 with two water hazards, but this was the case last year. The water won’t come into play unless you’re right of the tee and short of the green. There is a lay-up area to the right of a pond guarding teh green and if players elect that route, it will be only a shot of 70-80 yards. Going for the green in two, provided there is a decent pin placement and the shaping of a player’s shot, may be the better option. A birdie is good, but you will gain more from an eagle as it played 4.631 shots last year.
For the duration of the tourney’s history at TPC River Highlands, the par-5 6th is easier which normally plays around 574 yards. The fairway is much wider and no water. There is a group of bunkers in the middle of the fairway, but they don’t come into play for the pros. The green is narrow in the front and protected by a pair of bunkers to the left and right. In 2011, this hole played at 4.677 strokes and for the last 25 years the hole averages 4.797 shots.
Looking at the pairings, I have found eight that appeal to me on some level, but we’ll look at five of them.
1. Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley
The last three major winners in the same group. Some worry if Simpson is feeling a little run down after his U.S. Open win. Watson can attest to the rigors of how that all works. Bradley had an advantage over Simpson and Bubba as his major win was the last one to be played last year. Less worries about jumping back into the fray.
Last year, Simpson was T13, Watson was T38 (also won his 1st PGA event here in 2010) and Bradley was T63.
2. Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Johnson Wagner
All of these guys own a win in 2012 with Kuchar winning at The Players. Mahan has struck twice in capturing the WGC-Accenture Macth Play Championship and the Shell Houston Open. Wagner claimed his victory at the Sony Open.
Kuchar did not play her last year. Mahan is the 2007 champ and finished T43 last year. Wagner’s 2011 finish was a T17.
3. Louis Oosthuizen, Padraig Harrington, Justin Leonard
These three have something in common as all own a major win. Oosthuizen won The Open Championship in 2010. Harrington owns a par of Open Championships (2007 and 2008) and he won the PGA Championship in 2008. And sometimes I think people forget Leonard won The Open Championship in 1997.
Oosthuizen will be making his first appearance at TPC River Highlands. Harrington was a T63 along with Bradley last year while Leonard failed to make the cut.
4. Zach Johnson, Kyle Stanley, Fredrik Jacobson
Johnson won at the Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial and Stanley took the honors at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Jacobson is the defending champ here at The Travelers.
5. Ryo Ishikawa, Patrick Cantlay, John Peterson
A ton of young talent here. Ishikawa has yet to make the impression on teh PGA as he did back in his native Japan. That might be too tall of a task considering he hols rock star status there. Peterson owns all the tools to carve himself a nice career on tour. Cantlay announced after the U.S. Open that he was turning pro beginning with this event. He has signed on with agent Mark Steinberg at Excel Sports Management. IF that name sounds familiar, it should. Steinberg also represents Tiger Woods.
Congrats to Morgan Pressel and Jay Haas Winners of the CVS Caremark Charity Classic
Here’s a wrap-up video from the gang from WPRI in Providence, Rhode Island. The two-day affair was played at Rhode Island CC in Barrington, Rhode Island.
Topics: CVS Caremark Charity Classic, Fredrik Jacobson, Golf, Haunter Mahan, Jay Haas, John Peterson, Johnson Wagner, Justin Leonard, Kyle Stanley, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Morgan Pressel, Padraig Harrington, Patrick Cantlay, PGA, Ryo Ishikawa, The Travelers, TPR River Highlands, Zach Johnson