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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Travelers Championship - Preview

Following the conclusion of the U.S. Open, the PGA TOUR's attention will turn to Hartford, Connecticut for the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. For the second consecutive week, the world's best will face a course of under 7,000 yards, but this one is guaranteed to be much easier than Merion. 

TPC River Highlands comes in at 6,841 yards, and as you would assume plays to a par of 70. It features two par 5s, both under 575 yards, and the full bevy of par 3s. 

Marc Leishman won last year at 14-under-par, and that was the highest winning score since Woody Austin won at 10-under in 2004. Kenny Perry's 22-under in 2009 is the tournament scoring record. 

This has been the sight of several recent breakthrough wins, including Hunter Mahan's first TOUR win in 2007 and Bubba Watson's first in 2010. Knowing that, it's not out of the question for a rising star to pick up a breakthrough win this week. It was also Leishman's first (and only) PGA TOUR win. Bud Cauley anyone?

Since this is the third consecutive week we've seen a par-70 layout dating back to TPC Southwind in Memphis, some of the same research still applies. Perhaps what's different is the need to take it really low this week. That means it is essential that a player rip apart the par 5s and avoid bogeys. While we've seen shorter players contend and win here over the years, it's much more likely that a lengthy player will be identified. Nicolas Colsaerts anyone?

The stats don't suggest a heavy lean for the leading pack last season, reaffirming that there are a number of ways to navigate a low score at TPC Highlands.

The final dynamic to consider is the different paths players are taking to Connecticut. Those who played at Merion last week may feel like they are playing the easiest course in the world. Despite a grueling week, the ease of the course will overcome some of the fatigue of the U.S. Open. Everyone else will come in well rested and ready to go low.

We'll be back tomorrow with the power rankings. Until then, sit back and enjoy the final round of the U.S. Open! Oh, and Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!

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