THE Travelers Championship used to be played the week after the US Open but due to the Olympics it has been put back a month and now follows the US PGA.
Making use of the extra month since last year’s Championship the TPC Highlands course has gone through some upgrades that will make players think twice before hitting off the tees.
Fifty bunkers have been removed but the remaining 69 have been upgraded, reshaped or shifted into the landing areas. Several trees have been chopped down but the fairways are narrower.
There are risk-reward opportunities on this par 70, 6841 yards layout but course management will play a big part.
Last year’s winner Bubba Watson led the field in scrambling and was second in conversion percentage so I’ll be looking at those stats.
After withdrawing from the Bridgestone and The Open Brooks Koepka came back a lot stronger than I thought he would at the US PGA. Even with a sore ankle he finished a commendable T4 at minus nine which included a 66, 67 and 68.
Although he is 117th (57.96%) on the Tour for scrambling he is 22nd (0.485) for strokes gained:putting. Got the all-round game to win here and certainly worth a bet.
Tyrrell Hatton has made a big push over the past couple of months for a Ryder Cup spot. He seemed to go off the boil over June but came back strongly in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open by finishing second. He then had a superb T5 at The Open and followed that up with a T10 last week in the US PGA.
The Englishman’s scrambling stat is 74.65% (he’s not played enough tournaments in US for a rating on Tour) and strokes gained:putting is 0.134. He has seven top-10 finishes this season and can see him being at the top end of the leaderboard on Sunday night.
With two wins and eight top 10s this year Branden Grace is having a great season. He had a tough time in Scotland with a T29 in the Scottish Open and then a T72 in The Open but came storming back with a T4 in the US PGA two weeks ago. His scrambling stat is 59.93% (68th) and although his strokes gained:putting is only 0.006 (96th) he has enough in his locker for this tournament.
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