The PGA TOUR returns to action at TPC River Highlands for this week’s Travelers Championship, and here is a preview to get you off and running with your research. As we dive in, please accept my apologies for posting this a day later than usual. A combination of Father’s Day festivities, the U.S. Open and just being really tired were the contributing factors.
The good news is, this is a familiar tournament at a familiar venue, so we won’t have any trouble catching up.
As mentioned earlier, TPC River Highlands is the par-70 layout of 6,841 yards that awaits the competitors this week. It features two par 5s that offer legitimate birdies opportunities, a drivable par 4 among the 12 of those, and the expected dose of four par 3s. To say this course is short by modern standards is totally on point.
As we try and identify stats to watch, let’s take a look back at the winners and runners-up dating back to 2005 and look for similarities in player types atop the board.
2005 – Winner: Brad Faxon (14-under 266) over Tjaart van der Walt (playoff)
2006 – Winner: J.J. Henry (266) over Hunter Mahan and Ryan Moore (269)
2007 – Winner: Hunter Mahan (265) over Jay Williamson (playoff)
2008 – Winner: Stewart Cink (262) over Tommy Armour III and Hunter Mahan (263)
2009 – Winner: Kenny Perry (258) over Paul Goydos and David Toms (261)
2010 – Winner: Bubba Watson (266) over Scott Verplank and Corey Pavin (playoff)
2011 – Winner: Freddie Jacobson (260) over Ryan Moore and John Rollins (261)
2012 – Winner: Marc Leishman (266) over Charley Hoffman and Bubba Watson (267)
2013 – Winner: Ken Duke (268) over Chris Stroud (playoff)
2014 – Winner: Kevin Streelman (265) over K.J. Choi and Sergio Garcia (266)
One of the first things that jumps off the page is that there are several notable PGA TOUR players that picked up their first and / or only wins at this event. Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan have each gone on to have excellent careers after popping the cork in Connecticut, while J.J. Henry and Marc Leishman each hold this as their lone title. The lesson would be to take a hard look at players that are due to break through with a first win and consider this to be a great landing spot.
The other thing that stands out is the vast contrast between both long and short players showing well here. The perfect example would be in 2010, when both Bubba and Corey Pavin were in the same playoff. Other examples exist along these same lines.
In some ways, this reminds me of the John Deere Classic. It’s a course where deep numbers exist and several elite players have a great history. Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker at the JDC are replaced by names like Mahan, Ryan Moore and Watson at TPC River Highlands.
As with any par-70 layout, par-4 scoring average is relevant. I’ll also take a look at Par Breakers, Course History and Current form. Because of the mix of smooth putters and great ball-strikers on this list, it’s hard to give an edge to SG:TTG or SG:Putting. With that, I intend to take a more subjective look at things like how a player fares on shorter courses, etc.
We will be back as soon as possible with the power ranking and one-and-done selection.
Until then, happy research!