TPC River Highlands
TPC River Highlands
Yards: 6,841 as per the scorecard
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: Bentgrass; 5,500 square feet on average
Rough: Bentgrass, Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass and fescue at 3.5”
Water Hazards: 5
Course Architect: Robert J. Ross and Maurice Kearney (1928); Bobby Weed (1998)
Winner’s Share: $1,098,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Marc Leishman fired a final round 62 and sat around for over two hours awaiting his fate. After late bogeys by Charley Hoffman and Roland Thatcher, Leishman’s 62 stood up for his first TOUR win.
Dates: June 20-23
Notes: This tournament moved to its current position after the U.S. Open in 2007
Greg Norman and Marc Leishman are the only Australian winners in 61 editions of this event.
Leishman joins Fredrik Jacobson (2011) as the only two international winners at this event since Greg Norman won in 1995.
There have been 25 tournaments this season. The Stars and Stripes have won 20 of them but Australian Adam Scott and Englishman Justin Rose have the two biggest trophies, the Masters and U.S. Open, respectively.
Past champions in the field include:
Brad Faxon (2005)
J.J. Henry (2006)
Hunter Mahan (2007)
Stewart Cink (1997; 2008)
Bubba Watson (2010)
Fredrik Jacobson (2011)
Marc Leishman (2012)
In the last seven editions of the Travelers, five of the winners made this their first win on TOUR, including the last three champions.
There have also been nine first-time winners this season. Looking at the previous stat, it could be 10 after this week!
There have also been just two multiple winners, Woods (four) and Kuchar (WGC-Match Play; Memorial).
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson, D (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FOUR times (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar TWICE (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22), Bae (26), Weekley (39), English (26) and now Rose (32). The young folks (30 and younger) now have nine victories; the 30-somethings have racked up a baker’s dozen victories, 13, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have their two wins. Phil Mickelson finished second for the sixth time last week at the U.S. Open. Ernie Els and Steve Stricker also hit the top 10. Watch out for those crusty veterans!
Rank and File
As of Monday morning, 18 of the top 50 OWGR were schedule to play this week.
Welcome back to stadium golf, this time on the East coast as the TPC River Highlands hosts this week’s stop on TOUR. The property on which the ground sits upon was Edgewood Country Club from 1932 until 1982. Pete Dye was put in charge of the first redesign in 1982 and the first Travelers tournament at the TPC Connecticut was held in 1984. After five years, it was redesigned again, this time by Bobby Weed, and was renamed TPC River Highlands. How often does a Pete Dye design get redesigned? Weird. There is plenty of amphitheater seating on the back nine designed to bring the roars of the massive crowds into play on the weekend. Only TPC Scottsdale handles more visitors each season to their event that the Travelers.
TPC River Highlands is known for its difficult finishing holes and undulating greens. At only 6,841 the golf course is protected mainly by bunkers, water and the undulations on the putting surfaces. When Jacobson won here in 2011, he didn’t make a bogey until the back nine on Sunday so that tells me I’m looking for guys who can sting GIR, make birdies and avoid bogeys. Every winner here in the last 10 years has been double-digits under par. Nick Price was the last winner to fire in single digits, 271, in 1993. Kenny Perry has the tournament record at 258.
After a week of fighting Merion, those who played the U.S. Open will be relieved to see fairways wider than a country road and greens that are running just 10.5’ on the Stimpmeter. With greens running that mellow, there should be plenty of birdies this week as the aggressive players will not be penalized and putts will get to the hole. Heck, Patrick Cantlay fired 60 here two years ago in his pro debut. Since moving to its new position on the calendar in 2007, TPC River Highlands has ranked in the “easier” half of courses played on TOUR. Last year, it checked in at No. 26 of 49 played. It played hardest at No. 18 in 2007. Between 2008 and 2011 it was rated in the 30s of 50 or so courses used. Remember this though: TPC River Highlands was in the top five hardest courses for scrambling from the rough last year.
So, let’s find guys who hit tons of GIR, stay away from bogeys and make a few birdies this week. Jacobson showed us premium short game can win here; Watson showed us it’s all about ball-striking. If the average winning score is around 15-under, that formula should be about right.
Best 10, Plus One
John Rollins: His last three trips around par-70 courses were his last three tournaments. He finished T21 at HPBNC, T4 at Colonial and sixth at FESJC in Memphis so he’s dialed in and rolling. See what I did there? Anyhow, he’s playing great and it doesn’t hurt that he crushes par threes and fours (both inside top 21) and is 18th on TOUR in total birdies. If that’s not enough, he finished T2 (-19) in 2011 and T4 (-12) last year at TPC River Highlands. His worst round in the last two years was 68. He’s registered 10 top 25s in 12 weekends this season. He’ll be my one-and-done as well.
Bubba Watson: The last four tournaments Watson has played in have been on some of the more demanding courses on TOUR. Wells Fargo, THE PLAYERS, the Memorial and The U.S. Open will test the patience of the best golfers in the world and Watson should be grinning from ear-to-ear this week as he arrives in Connecticut. The course obviously fits his eye as he’s won (2010), finished T2 (2012), T6 (2008) and T14 (2009) in four of the last five years. His other finish was T38. He has ONE round over par in that stretch of tournaments. He has the best scoring average at TPC River Highlands with players with 15 or more rounds at 67.40. Michael Letzig is second. WHO KNEW? He’ll enjoy greens only rolling 10.5’ on the Stimpmeter as the putter is usually the club that holds him back. This is the site of his first TOUR win which he accomplished as his father was dying. Watson is highly emotional and that will work to his advantage this week.
Hunter Mahan: Since moving to this spot on the calendar in 2007, Mahan has played AT LEAST one round of 63 or BETTER in six tournaments (MC in the other). WHAT? Read that again, please. That’s insane! Mahan was on my list last week as I thought his form was rounding into shape and he didn’t disappoint with his T4 finish at the U.S. Open. Horse-for-course, form or class, it doesn’t matter this week with Mahan, just get him on your roster. Don’t worry either. This horse is a closer! His Sunday finishes in his last six are 61, 72, 64, 65, 65, and 65. In those tournaments he’s won, finished second twice, fourth and T11.
Jason Dufner: He had the co-round of Sunday and the tournament with a closing 67 at Merion. It would have been even better if he wouldn’t have jacked one on to Sergio Garcia Drive on No. 15 to make triple. Anyhow, Dufner hasn’t been playing poorly, per se, just poorly for gamers. Top 25s are great for guys that have never won on TOUR before or hit the ball crooked. Dufner is neither. His T4 finish last week was seventh straight weekend but only his first top 10. I think he’s ready to burst.
Brendon de Jonge: He’s second on TOUR in birdies in 2013 only behind Billy Horschel so I know he can take it low, if necessary. de Jonge is a known as a work-horse on TOUR and in the fantasy realm as he normally will put 30 or so starts on the board in a season. This year he’s teed it up in 19 of 25 so he’ll have plenty of chances to hit No. 30 again this year. He’s played the weekend in 15 of those 19 starts and was T8 here last year and T9 in 2010. He also fits the recent trend that supports first-time winners here as he’s looking for that elusive victory.
Ryan Moore: The classic argument of current form versus course history is front and center with Moore this week. He began May with T6 at Wells Fargo but since then he’s posted three MCs and T13 at Memorial. #allornothing. Gamers don’t like uncertainty so we’ll mark his current form as questionable. This week he returns to a course where he has one round in the last four years over par and has career finishes of T2, T2, T4 and T13 in seven events. His only MC was 2008. Some courses fit guy’s eyes perfectly and that’s my rationale with him this week.
Charley Hoffman: In the last three years here Hoffman has played nine of 12 rounds at 68 or better and that’s exactly what it will take to be in the conversation come Sunday this year as well. Hoffman has had an excellent spring as he’s made eight of nine cuts since MC at API in late March. In that stretch he’s banged out three top 10s and two additional T20 or better. He makes plenty of birdies and was T2 here last year.
Lee Westwood: In five of his last six events Westwood has been T15 or better. His only miss was a WD after a weather delay at the Memorial where he chose not to come back and finish bright and early. Westwood will be happy to see the back of the U.S. Open as he was brutally unlucky for the second year in a row. Last year it was a lost ball in a tree on Sunday; this year it was a ricochet off the legendary baskets atop the flagsticks at Merion. Both led to big numbers essentially knocking him out of contention. Putting isn’t his forte either but he won’t have the pressure to get it close knowing these greens will be running like regular European Tour events. Westwood is also in the top 10 in scrambling this season. That will help with the putting as well.
Padraig Harrington: Last season Harrington started heating up as June hit the calendar with quality finishes at HPBNC, FESJC and the U.S. Open before T11 at the Travelers. This season hasn’t been as lucrative but he has shown form as he finished T10 in Memphis and T21 last week at Merion. He’s made all four cuts in Connecticut including T5 in 2010. When form meets course history…
Rickie Fowler: The 2009 Walker Cup standout rewarded course history gamers last week at Merion as he finished T10. If he could get the ball in the fairway and get up-and-down last week, I would suggest he could find the form that saw him finish T13 here in 2010. He’ll hit plenty of fairways and should be aggressive with his putter.
Justin Rose: We saw Webb Simpson play in this event after his first major victory last year and Justin Rose is keeping up the tradition. Simpson went out 66-68 before falling apart on the weekend so we’ll see if Rose can keep pace with all of that. Another player who will be happy to see slow-ish greens this week, there is no reason to believe that he won’t post a few numbers the way he’s been hitting the golf ball. He didn’t make a double-bogey at Merion in four days! I think a top 25 would be acceptable following this life-changing experience. Anything in the top 10 would be a bonus for me. He’s in the top 10 plus one because he’s really freaking good (and out of respect) but it would be silly to expect a “normal” performance from him this week.
Form and Function
These players just missed out but should not be dismissed.
Keegan Bradley: Essentially a home game for the Vermont native, Bradley destroys par fours and fives and will make plenty of birdies. He’s currently T25 in par four birdie-or-better percentage and fourth in par five BOB%. After an uninspiring run at Memorial (T50) and a rough +12 at the U.S. Open, Bradley will embrace his local celebrity this week and get back to the form that saw him rack up six top 10s already this season.
Fredrik Jacobson: The 2011 champ finds himself just out of the premium places this week as his recent form outweighs his last two years here (T8, win). The good news is even though his ball-striking is suspect, he still manages a way to get up-and-down and hole putts when he has the chances. He’s 14th in actual scoring and eighth in par four performances so he consistently finds a way to put the ball in the hole. That is the name of the game!
Tim Clark: This time last year he was just finding his way back after injury and put up a T4 here so he should be in a good frame of mind this week. He didn’t play poorly at the U.S. Open but rounds of 70-79 saw him miss the weekend. He’ll hit every fairway; he’s 19th in total putting and he plays par threes and fours quite well. His lack of length will not be problem on this course.
Nicolas Colsaerts: He overpowered Marion and I don’t see why he couldn’t do the same this week. He hits plenty of GIR and should be brimming with confidence after an excellent top 10 last week in the U.S. Open. He’ll be more than happy as well to see greens running 10.5’ as well as he’s not a fabled putter.
Webb Simpson: He joins Bo Van Pelt with 10 rounds under 67 since 2008 at TPC River Highlands. Both of those fellas are chasing Bubba Watson who has put up 13 rounds under 67. Simpson will hit plenty of fairways and greens and if he can avoid that one big round, he should be in the mix. He’s played five times and made all five weekends but his best finish is only T13. Weird that.
Chris Kirk: He banged out 11 cuts on the bounce before 74-74 at Memorial broke up his run. This man makes tons of birdies and tons of birdies on par fours because he can absolutely stroke it on the greens. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s No. 1 on TOUR in scrambling. That’s very helpful when you check in at 105th in GIR.
Brian Davis: He’s quietly made nine of his last 10 cuts on TOUR and that run included two finishes inside the top 10. He thrives at TPC River Highlands because he’s highly accurate, a very solid putter and he thrives on par threes and fours. He was T4 last year and T9 in 2011.
Bo Van Pelt: As you read earlier, BVP has no problem getting low in CT as he is T2 for the most rounds of 67 or better since 2008. He’s played eight of the last nine years here and has made seven cuts in that time frame. In six of those weekends, he was T25 or better and that includes two top 10s. He only has one top 10 in 12 weekends on TOUR this season and that’s why he’s down here.
Kevin Streelman: He’s made five straight weekends in Connecticut and that will be exactly what the doctor orders after three tournaments in a row MC. He has two top 10s here so that should boost his confidence back up as he’s enjoying a massive season on TOUR. He’s 12th in ball-striking and 19th in total putting so it’s not like I’m sticking my neck out here, people. He’ll get those irons dialed in this week.
Take It Deep
Cameron Tringale: Solid across the board in ball-striking, putting and bogey avoidance, Tringale closed the weekend here last year 68-64 to catch T15. He’s an excellent bunker player and scrambler as well and that will come in handy this week. Plus, he’s never won and that’s been the trend five of the last seven winners here.
Andres Romero: His first time at TPC River Highlands in 2011 he finished T6 (-15) as he fired 64-67-67-67. He’s 15th on TOUR in birdie of better conversion percentage. Dig deep my friends.
Tommy Gainey: His best finish in last seven starts is T32 in New Orleans. He’s played 20 events so he’ll stay one ahead of de Jonge in the ironman race. Gainey was T18 last year and T17 in 2011 so it’s no impossible that he finds some form this week. His recent outings will suggest otherwise.
Brian Stuard: He made a ton of birdies to qualify for the U.S. Open after MC at Memorial. His ball-striking and putting numbers are excellent and he’ll be happy to see an easier course this week as well where he can turn some more birdies in on the card.
Charlie Beljan: He opened with 73 here but chased it with 67-68-66 to hit the top 30. Get rid of that Thursday and he could be a factor. This was the time last year when he got moving in the right direction.
Chez Reavie: He’s made three straight on the bounce and also had three very solid rounds here last year minus a second round 71. He hits plenty of fairways and bunches of greens and that how he found T11 here last season.
Gary Woodland: His last time out he closed with 64 in Memphis as he made the cut for the ninth straight time in 2013. His back-to-back weeks of T18 and T16 are his best of 201. Ding, ding!
Matt Every: The last time he played here he put all four rounds in the 60s so after 74-84 at Memorial, this should help out his psyche. His buddy Billy Horschel was again doing big things last week so let’s see if Every can get inspired. We’ve seen him make birdies and get low before, including 65 and 66 en route to a T4 at Crowne Plaza Colonial the week before the Memorial. Up and down, up and down…
Stuart Appleby: The Aussie is now up to seven events in a row on the weekend so that’s encouraging. The only issue is there hasn’t been a finish inside the top 30.
Jonathan Byrd: Last time out at Memphis he was T9 in GIR and put up his first top 10 of 2013 after returning from a wrist injury.
Just because they have well-recognized names doesn’t always mean you have to panic to fill your roster out with them…Also, it seems at least one of these guys will hit the top 10 EVERY week. I’m not scared.
Ian Poulter: Another week of “really close” doesn’t do it for me where I have to pick Poulter in these games. I’m disinterested.
Zach Johnson: I was really surprised to see the mild-mannered Johnson light into the USGA on his Twitter feed about Merion. After his T3 at Colonial he played the weekend at the Memorial 81-75. You let me know when he’s going to figure it out in 2013.
Kevin Stadler: The one player I was shocked to find on this list this week after grading the field was Stadler. His game sets up PERFECTLY for this course yet in seven starts here he’s been cut five times, WD once and finished T54 in 2007. Kinda wonder why he keeps teeing it up here. He could also be on the LONG SHOT list because of his numbers. I’m confused.
Troy Matteson: In six tries, he’s made one cut, T66, in 2006.
Aaron Baddeley: He’s missed six cuts in a row.
Rookie of the Week Last Week
I keep an eye on the youngin’s each week to see who is making the most noise.
Sony: Russell Henley WIN
Humana: David Lingmerth P2
Farmers: Brad Fritsch T9
WMPO: James Hahn T16
AT&T: James Hahn T3
NTO: Luke Guthrie T21
WGC-Match Play: Russell Henley 2nd round
Honda: Luke Guthrie 3rd
WGC-Cadillac: Russell Henley T28
Puerto Rico: Jordan Spieth 2nd
Tampa Bay: Jordan Spieth T7; Shawn Stefani T7; Ben Kohles T7
Arnold Palmer: Ben Kohles T14
Shell Houston Open: Robert Streb T22
Valero Texas Open: Ben Kohles T37
Masters: Russell Henley MC
RBC Heritage: Russell Henley T6
Zurich Classic: D. H. Lee T8
Wells Fargo Championship: Derek Ernst WIN
THE PLAYERS: David Lingmerth. Great back-to-back weeks for the rookies on TOUR!
HPBNC: Morgan Hoffmann T5
Colonial: Jordan Spieth, yep, him again, T7
Memorial: Russell Henley T6
FESJC: Patrick Reed Fifth
U.S. Open: David Lingmerth T17; special mentions for Hideki Matsuyama T10 and Michael Kim T17.
SEASON TOTAL: $2,937,490
HTOC: Steve Stricker (2nd; $665,000)
Sony: Charles Howell III (T3; $324,800)
Humana: Tim Clark (MC)
Farmers: Rickie Fowler (T6; $204,350)
WMPO: Jason Dufner (MC)
AT&T Pebble: Hunter Mahan (T16; $94,250)
Northern Trust: Bill Haas (T3; $343,200)
WGC-Match Play: Charl Schwartzel (T33; $46,000)
Honda: Lee Westwood (T9; $156,000)
WGC-Cadillac Championship: Matt Kuchar (T35; $68,500)
Tampa Bay: Jim Furyk (T7; $148,892)
Bay Hill: Sergio Garcia (WD after three rounds)
Shell Houston: Jimmy Walker (T50; $14,838)
Valero: Cameron Tringale (MC)
Masters: Phil Mickelson (T54; $18,320)
RBC Heritage: Luke Donald (T3; $336,400)
Zurich Classic: Bubba Watson (T15; $102,500)
Wells Fargo: Webb Simpson (T32; $37,073)
THE PLAYERS: Nick Watney (MC)
HPBNC: Jason Day (T27; $46,565)
Colonial: Kevin Streelman (MC)
Memorial: K.J. Choi (T21; $58,202)
FESJC: Ryan Palmer (4th; $273,600)
US Open: Graeme McDowell (MC)
Travelers: John Rollins
GolfChannel.com Fantasy Challenge
The US Open
(I play as “Glass” for ALL fantasy games although I’m thinking about renaming my teams to SINKING LIKE STONES)
Mike Glasscott (Rank: 3,606; $13,748,498)
Group 1: Bubba Watson
Group 2: John Rollins
Group 3: J.J. Henry
Group 4: Stuart Appleby
Ryan O’Sullivan (Rank: 6,870; $12,600,670)
Group 1: Hunter Mahan
Group 2: John Rollins
Group 3: Brian Davis
Group 4: D.J. Trahan
Ned Brown (Rank: 2,771; $14,121,750) “Pure Spin”
Group 1: Hunter Mahan
Group 2: John Rollins
Group 3: Brian Davis
Group 4: Chez Reavie
Rob Bolton (Rank: 11,592; $11,366,007)
Group 1: Hunter Mahan
Group 2: John Rollins
Group 3: Brian Davis
Group 4: Chez Reavie
Ned said, “…
Bubba Watson—He has a very good record at the Travelers of three top 10s (T6 in'08, a championship in '10 and a T2 last year) in six career starts.
Jason Dufner-- He looked great last week at the US Open and his T4 finish was his first top 10 of the season. Dufner does have a lack luster history at the Travelers, but those starts are so long ago that I don't give them a lot of weight.
Brendon de Jonge, Brian Davis, Padraig Harrington
Justin Rose-- He is coming off of his first major championship, but I don't think there will be a big letdown. His record at the Travelers is solid with three top 10s (third in '5, T9s in '07 and '10) in seven career starts.
Hunter Mahan-- He played well at the US Open and was in the hunt for the title until a final round of 75 dropped into a tie for fourth place. Mahan has four top 10s in 11 career starts at the Travelers, including a championship in '07.
Fredrik Jacobson-- He has missed the cut in his last two starts, but Jacobson has played well in his last two starts at the Travelers with a championship in '11 and a T8 last year.
Charley Hoffman-- He has played well this season with four top 10 finishes and I expect him to be motivated at the Travelers to improve on his T2 finish here last year.
Webb Simpson, Bo Van Pelt, Zach Johnson, Keegan Bradley
Lee Westwood-- Westwood had a streak of five consecutive top 10s before his withdrawal at The Memorial. He then played well last week at the US Open where he tied for 15th place. His history at the Travelers is only one start back 2005, so history isn't a big factor with him.
John Rollins-- This spot is a real tossup between Rickie Fowler and John Rollins. I know most fantasy players will be all over Fowler, but Rollins is coming off back-to-back top 10 performances and he is recent history at the Travelers is very strong with a T2 in '11 and a T4 last year.
Rickie Fowler, Harris English, Ian Poulter, Ryan Moore
Ned Brown is a long-time contributor for Rotoworld Golf. He’s had documented success in Yahoo!’s game for years. Even if you’re confident in your selections for that game, give his insight a read. Ned also provides us with his GolfChannel.com Fantasy Challenge selections as well!
Points last week: 110
Points this year: 3,953
Overall Ranking: (525; 99th percentile)
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat WEDNESDAY at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the Travelers Championship and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (https://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (https://twitter.com/GlassWGCL) on Twitter.