2014 Travelers Championship Preview, Picks + Predictions Plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #BackToRedNumbers

I always find it amusing every year how the best players in the world struggle to break par in the U.S. Open one week (unless you’re Martin Kaymer of course), then can transition so quickly the very following week to pepper the course with red numbers galore.  It definitely has to be a very liberating feeling to actually be staring down pins, rather than playing defensive golf all week.  No offense to Pinehurst, as it was a fantastically awesome venue for our national championship last week, but I know I’m not alone when I say that I’m excited for the Tour to move onto TPC River Highlands for the Travelers Championship this week.

The Travelers has an amazing streak going- four consecutive years with first-time PGA Tour winners.  Bubba Watson won his first ever title here in 2010 (hard to believe that was only 4 years ago and all that has happened since), followed by Freddie Jacobson (2011), Marc Leishman (2012) and Ken Duke (2013).  Not sure what can be taken away from that first-timer streak, but it’s an interesting and notable trend nonetheless.

Overall, the TPC River Highlands course is one of the shortest on the PGA Tour, playing to just 6,854 yards.  It is a par 70 with only two par 5s, and actually did play to an over-par average score of 70.248 last year, but that was the first time in six years that it slipped into black numbers.

The field is relatively solid for a week after a major, with Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Sergio Garcia, Zach Johnson, Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker and Hunter Mahan and others teeing it up this week.

A crazy week at the U.S. Open it sure was, as Martin Kaymer beat the field average by more than 20 strokes for the week, and while all of my picks made the cut, none finished inside the top 20 (Stricker was best at t-21st).  I also obviously whiffed on Keegan Bradley as my bust pick (he finished t-4th, although I did correctly predict via twitter that he’d shoot 76 on Saturday).  Already looking forward to seeing the birdies fly in Hartford this week, so let’s hop into some picks:

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: Stricker t-21st, Sergio t-35th)

Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson
– Bubba talked himself into missing the cut at Pinehurst last week, but that doesn’t mean it should talk you out of him being the clear-cut favorite this week.  Simply put, he owns this joint, as since his victory in ’10 he’s finished t-38th, t-2nd and solo 4th here.  Add in that he’s arguably the PGA Tour player of the year so far (with Martin Kaymer closing in quickly), and Bubba is a surefire top 10 LOCKZILLA this week…let’s just hope that he doesn’t publicly berate his caddie Ted Scott on-air this year.

Ryan Moore
Ryan Moore
– Ryan let me down last week as my DOTD BOLD play of the week at Pinehurst (t-48th), but he’s still in solid form and has five top 15s here, including two top 2s (t-7th here last year).  He’s as sneaky-solid of a play as you’ll find this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Last Week: Goosen t-45th)

Hunter Mahan
Hunter Mahan
– Hunter fits right into the “something has to give” department this week, as he has not been playing well this season relative to his standards, but he is the all-time leader in earnings at this event (won here in ’07).  He was actually playing relatively solid at the U.S. Open last week before hitting the wrong ball on Friday in his pairing with Jamie Donaldson and ended up missing the cut by one.  That’s ok because that will keep more people from picking Hunter this week, much to your advantage.  I’m calling for familiar surroundings to return Hunter to the top form this week that we all know that he possesses.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last Week: Keegan t-4th)

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson
– I am shocked that DJ is teeing it up this week, which makes it his seventh straight PGA Tour event.  I mean seriously, who does he think he is playing that often, Matt Kuchar? Anyway, I digress.  DJ has the talent to win anywhere and everywhere—when he’s focused and actually cares that is.  I’m sensing a huge post U.S. Open letdown this week following his t-4th finish and a carefree Paulina-distracted scorecard this week.  Definitely a week to fade Mr flat-billed TaylorMade.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last Week: Moore t-48th)

Graham DeLaet
Graham DeLaet
– The 54 hole leader here last year has yet to win on the PGA Tour, but will inevitably break through sooner than later.  Graham finished t-7th at the Byron Nelson and t-14th at Colonial prior to his U.S. Open MC, which in his own words he still described as playing well, but getting nothing out of his rounds.  Throw in his t-3rd here last year, his solid form of late and the four straight years of first-time winners here at the Travelers and Graham DeLaet is your Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

P.S. Check out this cool new predictions tool that I’ll now be offering on my site via my friends at Knoda, be sure to check out their site (hint- I’m Jorlboy 🙂 )


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