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Monday, June 16, 2014

Travelers Championship - Power Ranking

As we dive into the Power Ranking for the Travelers Championship, here’s hoping the annual pilgrimage to TPC River Highlands proves to be more exciting than the U.S. Open snooze fest last weekend. What Martin Kaymer did was impressive, to say the least, but it did not make for good TV. Had I not been covering it for Rotoworld, I probably would have bailed well before the back nine.

As always, I suggest you take a look at the Preview from yesterday if you are interested in some background as to the formula used to identify this week’s contenders.

With that off my chest, here we go:
  1. Bubba Watson – He’s immediately on the short list in this event with a win, T38, T2 and 4th in his last four starts in this event. Add to that, he has two wins, to runners-up and a third on his ledger this year and he’s the number one in a landslide. That he missed the cut in the U.S. Open last week is irrelevant.
  2. Matt Kuchar – When in doubt, go with Kuchar. Played this event fairly regularly from 1999 – 2008 with very little success, but scored in a T8 in his return in 2012 before skipping last year. He needs very little explanation.
  3. Charley Hoffman – He’s been flirting with a win in this event of late, with a T2 and a T7 in his last two trips, and has been extremely consistent in 2013-14. Checked all of the statistical boxes I evaluated with relative ease this week and recently tied for 19th at Memorial.
  4. Keegan Bradley – Made a charge to tie for fourth at the U.S. Open last week. He’s trending in the right direction in this event, improving from T63 to T29 to T18 in his three stops. Like Hoffman, he checks off all the right statistical boxes.
  5. Brooks Koepka – Another guy who tied for fourth at the U.S. Open, he’s essentially played his way onto the PGA TOUR for both this year and next with the FEC points he’s earned as a non-member. With his 2014-15 status secure, he could knock on the door for a breakthrough win. Ranks very high in Par 4 Scoring average, which is a key indicator in this event.
  6. Jason Day – Assuming he keeps this on his schedule after a T4 at Pinehurst last week, he is showing that his class knows no limit. Tied for 27th here in his only trip back in 2008, breaking par in each of his first three rounds.
  7. Ryan Moore – Despite a disappointing finish to his U.S. Open in the final round, his track record in this event warrants plenty of consideration. He’s twice been a runner-up, adding a T4 in 2009 and a T7 last year. His scoring average in this event is 67.73. While I wish he scrambled a tad better, his Par 3 and Par 4 Scoring splits are top shelf.
  8. Dustin Johnson – He’s on point from a form standpoint, but we’ll see how interested in ends up being in this tournament. He tied for 34th here in 2008, then withdrew following a first-round 68 in 2009 and hasn’t been back until this week. Strong on Par Breakers, which will be a focus at TPC River Highlands.
  9. Graham DeLaet – We must trust that his third-place finish last year in this event is more indicative of where he will wind up this week than a pair of 68ths and a MC in  his first three trips. It’s a broken record with him, but it all comes down to how he putts. He is the top ball-striker on the PGA TOUR.
  10. Chris Stroud – Probably peaked with his playoff loss to Ken Duke here last year, but there is certainly a precedent for course horses in this event and he could prove to be one of them.  He’s made the cut here every year since 2008. He’s an elite scrambler and Par 3 player.
  11. Hunter Mahan – A complete nod to course history that includes a win and two runners-up, but has not scored a top 10 here since 2009. Recent form is a concern.
  12. Brian Harman – Snuck into this ranking due in large part to his T6 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, but course history is just good enough to warrant some consideration and his stats line up nicely.

Next 5 (alphabetical):
  • Sergio Garcia – Not a surprise that he gutted it through the U.S. Open with an ailing knee but  I wonder if that will prove to be the case this week. A T20 in ’02 and a T43 in ’08 represent his only history.
  • Freddie Jacobson – Followed up his 2011 win with a T8 in ’12, then backed up a little further with a T30 last year.
  • Zach Johnson – We looked at the course history and current form, absent his name and full-season stats, he wouldn't have been this high. This is a nod to his class, as he isn't passing the eye test of late.
  • Marc Leishman – Last three starts here have gone T70-Win-T30. Flashed some form of late on the PGA TOUR.
  • Brandt Snedeker – Enters the conversation thanks to a big week at the U.S. Open. Best finish in this event was a T24 in ’11. Had it not been for the U.S. Open, he wouldn’t have been anywhere near the radar.

Also deserving some attention (no particular order):
  • Patrick Cantlay – Making his second start of the year (injury), don’t forget he shot a 60 here as an amateur in 2011.
  • Harris English – Stats still look good, but he hasn’t cracked a top 25 since a T14 at the Arnold Palmer.
  • Russell Knox – Tied for 13th here last year and had a nice run in the not-too-distant past, but has back-to-back missed cuts. Decent statistical fit and a solid dark horse or breakthrough candidate.
  • Michael Thompson – A T10 at Colonial combined with a fourth here in 2011 raises an eyebrow.
  • Brendan Steele – Has a pair of T13s in his last three trips to Connecticut.
  • Andrew Svoboda – Recent form is strong, with a T19 and a T6 in his last two starts. Missed the cut here last year.
  • Morgan Hoffmann – Improved from a T43 in ’11 to a T9 LY.
  • Peter Malnati – He blogged about an attitude adjustment when he dropped down to play the Rex Hospitals Open and found his name on the front page of the leaderboard before an eventual T19 at the St. Jude.
  • Erik Compton – Massive U.S. Open. Given his health concerns, we’ll see how fresh he is and if he ends up making the trip to Connecticut.
  • Patrick Reed – Played respectably at the U.S. Open following the birth of his daughter and posted a solid T18 here last year after a T47 in his first trip.
  • Louis Oosthuizen – Makes the long list thanks to his final-round 67 at the U.S. Open. Tied for 47th here in his only start.
  • J.J. Henry – Picked up the win here in 2006 and is a native to the area. Also tied for fifth here last year.

We will return with the OAD tomorrow. Until then, best of luck to all!

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